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Meet the Met 2010: Go for the Gelb

jj_thumgIntern JJ here, ready to go with live coverage of the Met’s 2010-2011 press announcement, which will begin in about 30 minutes.

See you there, cher public! Latest coverage begins after the jump.  

4:10: Here’s the complete Season Press Release and the 2010-11 Repertory and Casting complete as of today.

4:00: Over at the Rubinstein Atrium now, where the WiFi is free and (more to the point) operating. A summary of what’s up at the Met next season is on the Times website, scoopers that they are.

Some impressions of the event: it was VERY well attended. List Hall was packed, with people standing in the rear, though some of these were Met (press office and some video, photographers, etc.)

Peter Gelb is most comfortable working from prepared notes. It’s a bit of a fool’s errand asking him a searching, penetrating question as he is just going to duck it anyway. At least he is pleasant and civil in his evasiveness.

The mood seemed a lot more optimistic than last year, even though they seem to have 86ed the idea of having singers from next season’s productions making a personal appearance. (This is perhaps because by far the most engaging of the personalities at least year’s event was Angela Gheorghiu, who, well, you know how that turned out.)

The look of next season seems sort of cautiously modern; the Boris, Traviata and Don Carlo look fairly plain, open-boxy. We didn’t get any look at the Comte Ory, just the Sher talk, and the discussion with Lepage suggests he is not one of the world’s great talkers, not much more than that. It did seem that he has a solid grasp of what he wants to do with the Ring, and in this venue at least he is very respectful of the work. Idea I hd not heard before (Lepage): “In an opera production, the conductor is in control of time, and the director of space.”

I met Margaret Juntwait, who is quite charming in person, sort of a very scaled down version of her radio personality.

I apologize for the connectivity thing, cher public: next year, 3G for backup for sure.

Back to Sunnyside.

3:30: As is traditional at these events, the WiFi cut out the minute Peter Gelb started his introduction. I’ll continue to type, we’ll get this online as soon as possible

James Levine 40th anniversary will be marked with releases of CDs, DVDs and a tour to Japan.

Seven new productions, 11 HD telecasts.

A clip from the Carmen HD (as seen by 360,000 audience members.)

The new productions are as predicted before: Rheingold, Walkure, Boris Godunov, Don Carlo, Traviata, Nixon in China and Le Comte Ory. Joyce DiDonato is in the Ory.

We also will see other directors on video.

Maestro Levine: Going into my 40th season. During the first three seasons working with PG, the effort to build a new audience required refocus, hard work. One of the things most striking: conducting roster is best in JL’s memory. The future looks very bright. One other thing: the Ring. Really a new Ring, a new way of dealing with this story that has never been seen before, but it does deal with the story in great detail. “This may be very, very wonderful.”

PG: 2011-2012 first cycle of Ring. The construction of the Ring set (more machine than set).

“Impressionistic” video of some of the ideas of the design for the Lepage Ring. There will be acrobats on bungee cords and flying on rings. Robert Lepage is live on video from Vancouver.

RP offered the Ring several times before, never felt companies could commit to time & resources necessary. “The big story is always an echo of the small story.” He brings singers as close to the audience as possible. Spectacle in the background points to the small story in the foreground. Designs and staging will push voices forward, singer-friendly. The set is a living thing that breathes (metaphorically, one hopes.). Meeting between traditional stagecraft and state of the art technology, in the spirit of the motifs of the Ring, constantly reinventing and blending set elements. Coups de theatre are created organically. His take based on imagery of the Icelandic Eddas; some of the costumes will recall the first production at Bayreuth which also reflected this source material. The Ring is not “Avatar.”

Levine seems genuinely enthusiastic about the stagecraft. is this the most expensive production the Met has ever done? PG: Ours is less expensive than the one in Los Angeles. Since it’s all contained in one giant piece of scenery, it’s not significantly more expensive than (say) four Boris Godunovs.

Video presentations of new productions. Peter Stein top of Gelb’s list of directors to be invited to the Met.

Nicholas Hytner directs the Don Carlo (this is as seen at Royal Opera, met is a co-producer).

Willy Decker directs Traviata. Entire chorus is dressed as men. The set is being redesigned for the proportions of the Met proscenium. Decker: “A set has to be a clear background for strong characters.” Dr. Grenvil is onstage almost through entire production because he represents mortality. The production is otherwise tightly focused on Violetta as “outcast.”

“Nixon in China” is Peter Sellars’ overdue debut at the Met. One hates to say this but in middle age Sellars is looking a lot like a pineapple. “What distinguishes the performances of Maddalena and the others is that they are so humane.” “Nixon in china coming to the Met is sweet, we made it as an anti grand opera, and now at the Met it can be genuinely grand.”

PG: very supportive intro of Bart Sher.

BS re Comte Ory: “Dessert at the end of the meal. A French pastry made by an Italian chef. The most beautiful music Rossini ever wrote: the trio.

Questions: Will any new opera achieve the popularity of Boheme or Tosca?
PG: Always looking for ways to revitalize standard repertory. There isn’t enough repertory.

Question: Are there any singers or conductors you still want to go after?
Always looking. Nina Stemme a holdout for many years, we’re working on her. Cecilia Bartoli we would love to have back at the Met, not for lack of trying.

Q: Levine’s take on reception to Tosca?
Levine: i don’t have a take. My mind is in a development state; some things I live, other things I don’t like so much. I prefer for people to use their own mind and feeling, not “Jimmy said this.”

Q: Are we ready to tolerate a production of Traviata that strips away everything? Can’t adjust to the lack of romance.
PG: Many Americans saw this at Salzburg, liked it. If we didn’t think audiences would like it, we wouldn’t bring it here.

JL: We asked Peduzzi and Bondy for original work, not something they did before. It’s very important to let artists work and for me it isn’t always about agreeing with what they do.

PG: We are not about “minimalism” – we are after productions that tell the story well.

Q: How has the success of HD productions changed “what you tell directors” because of closeups, etc.

Levine: HD is clearly live, but medium is electronic. Artists don’t change what they do for it; the point is for the HD to pick up what we are doing. If anything, the HD day only increases he sense of occasion. The company, under huge continuous pressure, rise to the occasion magnificently.

PG: The Met is too complicated, with limited amount of time: we can’t rework productions for HD. What we do is this: after production has opened, we analyze how HD will do “reportage” of the live performance.

Q: Is operating budget reduced in current climate?
PG: Most of budget is function of costs we have no control of (unions, etc). We have made millions of dollars in cuts.

JJ and La Cieca will edit all this stuff a little later, but now you know!

2:07: A hush falls over the house. Not really. But first tidbit is: 11 HD telecasts in 1010-2011.

2:00: And here we are. Recognized are Bartlett Sher, director of next season’s Le Comte Ory, and Mercedes Bass, who presumably is not directing anything, but still.

No guarantees on any of this, but if you have ideas for questions to be asked at the presser, email to

Back in 15 minutes!


  • Satisfied says:

    “conducting roster is best in JL’s memory.”

    So who is conducting???? Are we getting any Salonens, Mutis, or just maybe (one could only dream!) a Jansons????

  • Dan Johnson says:

    Oh dang the new Ring sounds GREAT.

    • kashania says:

      I’m a big fan of Lepage. His has the potential to be the great Ring of our times.

    • Zerbinetta says:

      I hope it’s great, but I’m scared it’s going to look like a video game. I know images are going to sell better than Personenregie at a press conference but I hope that Lepage has some good ideas about the characters and relationships that he just isn’t telling us….

  • Satisfied says:

    According to the NY Times article Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Rattle, and William Christie will conduct next season.

    That should be very interesting!

  • Satisfied says:

    Anyone able to get their hands on a press release with full roster? As expected, nothing n the Met site.

  • pernille says:

    Why do we have to get a copy-cat Traviata? Isn’t there someone out there who could give us something new without the wiff of Eurotrash?

  • CL in DC says:

    It boasted that about one-third of tickets will cost less than $100 and said that discounts for students, under-30s and last-minute buyers will continue.

    I’ve never heard of the under-30s discount and I couldn’t find any info w/ a quick search. Anyone familiar w/ this discount program?

  • flamingopera says:

    Lawrence Brownlee is Rinaldo next season and not Goffredo

  • flamingopera says:

    Coup de théatre : Lucia is being rebroadcast next season with Dessay!!!!

  • Gualtier M says:

    Suspicious Brit-casting: Patricia Bardon as Erda. Why not Podles? Questions: Hibla Gerzmava as Antonia in “Hoffmann” -- anyone heard her? What is she like? Is Eboli Anna Smirnova’s Met debut? What role did she sing before?

    Problem castings: Gheorghiu as Juliette -- at this point? I didn’t like her take on the role over a decade ago! James Morris as Scarpia, time to give that up, Jim. The whole “Traviata” cast seems to be replacements, very underwhelming for a new production of a major warhorse work. Only Gelb seems to believe this will be a success at the Met. Juha Uusitalo as Rance in “Fanciulla” in a revival, not a new production of the work for the centennial. See if he shows up as Vanderdecken this Spring and then let’s talk. Pimen needs a basso profondo and Mikhail Petrenko is a lighter basso-cantante.

    I like the casting for Wozzeck, Walkure, Capriccio (some Brits in there but good ones -- Peter Rose is just okay but Connolly is a fine artist), Pelleas, Orfeo, Pique Dame and Simon Boccanegra.

    • manou says:

      Saw Hibla Gerzmava in Boheme (with Beczala) at Covent Garden. She is fine -- not spectacular. Sings the notes in the right order.

    • kashania says:

      Indeed! Why not Podles as Erda? She should be their go-to Erda, First Norn and Ulrica.

      • NYCOQ says:

        I am beginning to think that those rumors of Podles’ difficulty are true. She was at the Met in Gioconda and has raised her profile in America over the past few years. So what’s the deal? Well it’s the Met’s loss (and ours).

    • armerjacquino says:

      Patricia Bardon is Irish. Don’t call an Irish person a Brit, they don’t tend to like it.

      I feel like I’ve said this a billion times before.

    • Baritenor says:

      Rebutal: First off, Patricia Bardon is actually really, really talented. This isn’t a case of importing, say, a Marcellina. Not a lot of people can sing Erda succesfully. Bardon, I have heard, actually can. And how do you know they didn’t try to get Podles and failed? The Met, apparently, isn’t one of her favorite houses.

      Also, I saw Petrenko sing Pimen on tour with the Marinsky theater, which he did very succesfully.