Thursday, September 27, 2012

Opening Week at the Metropolitan Opera

When the end of September comes around, New York always seems to come back to life. Schools are in session again, people's vacations have ended and the 'social' season starts again. To me, this signifies the start of another wonderful cultural season: New York City Ballet, Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall...the list goes on and on of institutions that hold Opening Nights at their respective venues to kick of the season.

Of course, it is also the start of our new MONC season, even though we had our official opening two weeks ago when we held our VIP event. This is the time when there is a major surge in applications in my mailbox (real and electronic), which is wonderful because I find out who will be joining us this year. Being that this is our second year organizing the Auditions, it is great to see some familiar faces in the application pile, as well as plenty of fresh ones. It promises to be an exciting season again.

Courtesy Ken Howard/Met Opera
The Metropolitan Opera kicked of its season with a new production of L'Elisir d'Amore, with Anna Netrebko and Matthew Polenzani in the leading roles. I must say I was under the impression that Matthew Polenzani got his start in the Lindemann Young Artist Program, and I was not the only one. Anne Midgett had to correct her review in the Washington Post as well. It turns out Mr. Polenzani had his start in the young artist program at the Lyric Opera of Chicago (where our very own Will Liverman is currently at).

Where the confusion began for me was at last week's Met Talk about L'Elisir. The Met Talks are a great way to find out about new productions and learn what is going on in the minds of the singers and directors. Both Netrebko and Polenzani discussed where they had their start in opera. Polenzani was studying to be a music teacher until he heard an opera recording of "E lucevan le stelle'' from Puccini's Tosca which was sung by José Carreras.  He was eighteen at the time.

Netrebko was also eighteen when she knew opera was the career path she wanted to follow.  She was in St. Petersburg when she heard a performance of Otello, and at that moment she knew she wanted to be in the world of drama, acting, singing...  I have always loved the continuation of the story.  To see as many performances as possible and pay for her studies, Netrebko started to clean the floors at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg (she was a janitor).  By the age of twenty-two, maestro Valery Gergiev had discovered her and took her under his wings.  

L'Elisir is not the only exciting premiere this week at the Met. Yesterday was this season's first performance of Puccini's Turandot, and it was especially important for the National Council Auditions because Ryan Speedo Green made his debut on the Met stage, in the role of Mandarin. I did not get a chance to see him last night, but I will report back after I see the performance on Saturday. Ryan is now in his second year of the Lindemann Young Artist program, and he has another role coming up at the Met this season, as The Second Knight in Parsifal.

It promises to be another great season, both for the Met and for Monc, and we look forward to sharing it with you.