Thursday, April 25, 2013

Welcome to the 2013-2014 Season

As this season comes to an end, the Met is already busy preparing for a new one. As a matter of fact, they have probably been planning the 2013-2014 season for the last five years. Yesterday evening, Peter Gelb gave a sneak peek at the upcoming season, highlighting 6 new productions which will premiere starting September.

Eugene Onegin by Peter Tchaikovsky

The tragic love story of Tatiana and Onegin will be returning to the Met stage on opening night. If you are wondering why there is a new Onegin so soon after the last one (1997, which is fast in opera terms), Mr. Gelb gave some insight per request of an audience member. Not only is a new production a more exciting way to start the new season with a fresh theatrical perspective (as has been the case ever since Peter Gelb took the reigns), but it was also the perfect way to entice Anna Netrebko to tackle the role of Tatiana. It will be the first time Ms. Netrebko will be singing the role at the Met, so a new production will allow her to put her mark on the role. A few weeks ago Ms. Netrebko sang her very first Tatiana, at the Vienna State Opera, and the reviews were raving. As the New York Times wrote: "a Tatiana waiting to happen", "New Yorkers have much to look forward to" and "she was wonderful." It is said to be the greatest interpretation ever heard.

Two Boys by Nico Muhly

Two Boys is a commissioned co-production between the Met and the English National Opera. This means the initial cost of production were shared between the two opera houses. It premiered two years ago in London under critical acclaim. The libretto, inspired by a true story, was written by US playwright Craig Lucas and Bartlett Sher returns to the director's chair for another Met production. The story involves a detective, Anne Strawson (Alice Coote), investigating the murder of a young boy by a teenager. As the investigation unravels, it turns out not everything is as it seems. The dark side of the Internet and chat rooms come to light in this opera. It is a modern take on an age-old story.

Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi

Talk about a stellar cast: Lisette Oropesa, Angela Meade, Stephanie Blythe, Jennifer Johnson Cano...and the long-awaited return of Maestro James Levine. It is only fitting that Maestro Levine returns to the conductor's podium with Falstaff, an opera he has always been closely associated with. This is another co-production, this time with the Royal Opera House and La Scala. The production has already premiered there, which is always a good way to see how a production will perform once it makes its way to the Met stage. This is the first new Falstaff in almost fifty years, and director Robert Carsen has set the action in the English countryside.

Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss

Fittingly, Die Fledermaus will ring in the new year as it gets its premiere on December 31st. Director Jeremy Sams has set this new production in Bel Epoque Vienna, New Year's Eve 1899. This will be an English version Fledermaus, with a revised libretto by playwright Douglas Carter Beane. It is not a new idea to perform this opera in English. The Met's most popular English Fledermaus was commissioned in 1950 by then new General Manager Rudolf Bing. The role of Prince Orlofsky, while usually a trouser role for mezzo-sopranos, will be sung by counter-tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo.

Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin
This opera is the artictic highlight of the season; an opera of epic proportions. Prince Igor has not been performed at the Met since 1917. Epics are hard to put on, even for a big house like the Met, and an enormous cast is needed. The chorus plays a very important role in this opera, especially as they accompany the ballet dancers during the Polovtsian dances. The music for that piece is instantly recognizable. Borodin died before he was able to finish his masterpiece, so earlier productions were pieced together from what he left at the time of his death. Research was performed in St. Petersburg to make this production as musically cohesive as possible. Oksana Dyka will make her Met debut as Yaroslavna, and Mr. Gelb made it known she is expected to become a star at the Met.

Werther by Jules Massenet

You won't get a better cast for this new production of Werther; Jonas Kaufmann and Elīna Garanča. This visually stunning production is brought to life by director Richard Eyre. The Met's goal is to bring the best casts to the stage and they certainly accomplish that in this opera.

Some more tidbits which were discussed by Peter Gelb after questions from the audience:

As to whether the Lepage Ring Cycle will be back: Yes, it will be back for future seasons.

As to the use of mikes in opera (based on what instruments are used in Two Boys): Music that was not meant to be miked should not be miked. If it was a composers true intention to mike his singers (as John Adams does) than it can be done.

As to what future directors will be brought to the Met: The goal is to bring all top directors to the Met at some point, and this new season is no exception.  This season's new directors include Deborah Warner (Eugene Onegin) and Dmitri Tcherniakov (Prince Igor).  Some directors who change the story or the underlying beliefs of an opera will probably not be brought to the Met. The opera has to stay true to itself and not make it confusing for audiences. Before the new Rigoletto received the green light, they went over every detail of the story to make sure it made sense to set it in Vegas of the sixties.

Videos are courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera website, where you can now 'Create your own Series' so you get your tickets early.

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