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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!


  • CL in DC says:

    Who (or what) will be the face of the Met on all the posters?

    • flamingopera says:

      I seriously dont know. Theres only two NPs that have new promotional photos (Boris and Ory) and I dont really see them in Times Square. Maybe the’ll just put a set of the Ring on all of the posters?

  • kashania says:

    Interesting that they’re giving Kathleen Kim another opportunity to master Zerbinetta’s music. But I am excited by Di Donato as the Komponist and Dean Smith as Bacchus.

    I’m glad that Met seems to be aware of De Niese’s limitations. She’s effective in the right roles. First Euridyce, then Susanna, and now Despina. Good roles for her.

    Nice P & M cast!

    Peter Stein directing Boris. That’s definitely promising.

    Galouzine should be a great Ghermann. Zajick doing the Countess already? I guess it’ll be easy money for her.

    • OlivePratt says:

      don’t really see much great except the enticing idea of a NEW Ring. The rest is pretty hackneyed, and quite dull really.

    • Regina delle fate says:

      A nice P & M cast that’s full of fucking Brits? And conducted by one. You will be getting a whipping from the Vicar and the other Brithaters.

      • kashania says:

        I can see getting a whipping form the Brit-haters but shouldn’t I get a pat on the back from the Vicar? (I’m still waiting to hear why he doesn’t include Canadians in his praise of Commonwealth singers). :)

        • armerjacquino says:

          Kashania, that’s an easy enough one to answer.

          Whichever snide little xenophobe is behind the ‘Vicar’ login obviously doesn’t hate Canadians with the same venom he or she reserves for British people.

        • kashania says:

          AJ: But I thought the Vicar loves the British!

        • BETSY_ANN_BOBOLINK says:

          That’s what he wants sveryone to think. In actuality, he is a nineteen-year old savant living with his widowed aunt just outside Des Moines. I have to admit, though, his knowledge of British singers is encyclopedic. I’ll bet he could name off at least eight troubadors at Castle Camelot. He has not, however, at least to my knowledge, stooped to Justin Lavendar.

        • 98rsd says:

          Justin Lavender is a tenor, so perhaps one doesn’t have to stoop to him.

  • manou says:

    Can I make a small plaintive plea that has nothing whatsoever to do with the Met’s new season?

    Could La Cieca bring hither the solution to the fatted calf thread so that I may sleep again?

    Grateful thanks.

  • Zerbinetta says:

    Anyone got a link to the cheesy publicity photos? I’m curious to see who’s going to end up on the bus stops in September.

    Rheingold has no obvious leading diva like the previous seasons’ Dessay, Fleming, or Mattila. So who….?

    • flamingopera says:

      I saw the photos of the 2010-11 NPs friday when they appeared for five minutes and there were only Boris and Ory that had a photograph session (this season was tosca, hoffmann, carmen, attila, nose and armida). All of the other operas were sets photos.
      Hope its not only a set! I seriously really liked Fleming’s head and all her gloden hairs all over NYC.

  • Cassandra says:

    Hilarious that they actually still think that Terfel will show up for Wotan when he could barely handle it in a house not even half the size. I want whatever the person who thinks Debbie is going to appear as Brunnhilde and Minnie is smoking. That Ring cast is a disaster waiting to happen. I hope they’ve got back up, but I’m sure it will be the usual hysteria and clusterfuck once the actual production rolls around.

    Calling the Don Carlo “new” is a stretch. WAY too much Poplavskaya next season. Overrated and overhyped singer of the year. Her Don Carlo at ROH was sketchy at best, her Anna a mess, and I can’t imagine what traviata will be like.

    Holzmair is just now making his debut? How… odd. Relyea as Escamillo = oh, dear. Interesting to see Uusitalo on the boards considering his debacle in the much easier to sing Scarpia.

    Very lucky for them to get DiDonato to do a role that has no aria, that’s luxe casting. Great thing they combined it with Komponist, since she’s the best out there in the role right now.

    Epstein just keeps James Morris’ career going and going. Impressive. Matthias Goerne’s Wozzeck should be interesting. Enough of Kathleen Kim all ready.

  • CruzSF says:

    Interesting to see Uusitalo on the boards considering his debacle in the much easier to sing Scarpia

    I thought that Uusitalo dropped out of Tosca for reasons other than his voice.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    “Icelandic Eddas” I hope they get Bjork for one of the Valkirias!

    How would a musically deprived creep like Sher know what “the most beautiful music Rossini ever wrote” was?

    That’s the thing about meeting MJ in person -- she’s so much nicer than her on the air exposure at the MET.

  • rommie says:

    so for tomorrow’s Attila prima, do you guys think i should try Rush orchestra or would it sound better in the family circle standing room?

    thanks y’all.

    your most ardent fan.

    • Zerbinetta says:

      usually they don’t have rush for opening nights of new productions. you should give them a call and check.

      I’m going to be in orchestra standing room.

      • rommie says:

        im basing that on the one they have listed online (in terms of the rush) as they have it pegged for seniors… maybe thats different?

        so do u think orchestra standing room is better than family circle standing?

        • Zerbinetta says:

          Hmmm, interesting. They did have rush for the first House of the Dead, so it’s not a universal policy with new productions. I’d still call and check though.

          I like orchestra standing room because you can see a lot more than FC and it’s often pretty easy to snag a great seat after intermission (just go to the doors and politely ask the people who don’t take return tickets from the ushers). But the acoustics in Family Circle are better.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Peter Sellars looking like a middle aged pineapple must be quite a sight.

  • La Valkyrietta says:

    I find the next season utterly, utterly depressing.

    The Traviata? Well, perhaps it will suggest another dimension to the lyrics, “Dunque a la misera…”

    The Ring? I hope it is exciting musically. I could care less about all those athletes jumping up and down. I remember that poster who likes Corno di Bassetto, and I tend to agree with this critic who wrote, “I must admit that my favorite way of enjoying a performance of The Ring is to sit at the back of a box, comfortable on two chairs, feet up, and listen without looking.” Will it have something well worth listening to?

    Oh well, There is Rossini, and there is Pape in Boris, perhaps those will be fun. That ‘pineapple’ Nixon will be new to me, I missed it when it was done before.

    Depressing, depressing. Let me play some Beethoven to cheer up. :)

    • La Valkyrietta says:

      There would be reason to cheer had they announced intermissions will be fifteen minutes long, twenty at the most.