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Metropolitan Opera 2014-2015

“Met Music Director James Levine, back to full strength, will resume his typical schedule of six operas in the 2014-15 season.” Here we go, cher public, details of the Met’s (to be perfectly frank) not particularly spectacular mid-decade season.

New Productions

OPENING NIGHT: Le Nozze di Figaro – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Opening: September 22, 2014
Conductor: James Levine/Edo de Waart
Production: Richard Eyre
Set and Costume Design: Rob Howell
Lighting Design: Paule Constable
Choreographer: Sara Erde
Live in HD: October 18, 2014

The season opens with a new production of Mozart’s elegant masterpiece of marital discord, Le Nozze di FigaroJames Levine conducts the new staging byRichard Eyre, whose Met credits include the 2011 hit production of Carmen and the current season’s Werther. Eyre’s staging of the opera, in which the romantic bonds of two couples are tested over the course of one eventful day, is set in a stately manor in 1920s Seville.

Ildar Abdrazakov, star of this season’s Prince Igor and an acclaimed Figaro at the Met in the past, sings the title role in the premiere performances. The opening night cast also includes Marlis Petersen as Figaro’s quick-witted bride-to-be, Susanna; Peter Mattei in one of his most acclaimed roles as Count Almaviva;Marina Poplavskaya in her role debut as Almaviva’s wife, the long-suffering Countess; and Isabel Leonard as the boisterous page Cherubino.

A second cast, led by Edo de Waart, takes the leading roles starting December 4. Three artists who have sung their roles to acclaim in past Met seasons—Erwin Schrott as Figaro, Danielle de Niese as Susanna, and Mariusz Kwiecien as Count Almaviva—star opposite two debuting artists, American soprano Amanda Majeski as the Countess and Italian mezzo-soprano Serena Malfi as Cherubino.

 

MET PREMIERE: The Death of Klinghoffer – John Adams

Opening: October 20, 2014
Conductor: David Robertson
Production: Tom Morris
Set Design: Tom Pye
Costume Design: Laura Hopkins
Lighting Design: Jean Kalman
Video Design: Finn Ross
Sound Design: Mark Grey
Choreographer: Arthur Pita
Live in HD: November 15, 2014

John Adams’s meditative work, based on the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro and the subsequent murder of an American Jewish passenger, has its Met premiere. The Death of Klinghoffer is the third Adams opera to be presented at the Met in recent seasons, following the success of Doctor Atomic and Nixon in China. The Met premiere, a co-production with English National Opera, is directed by Tom Morris, whose other credits include the international theatrical hit War Horse.

David Robertson, who led the 2013 Met premiere of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys, conducts the opera, which will star Paulo Szot as the Captain of the Achille LauroAlan Opie as the title character; Michaela Martens as Klinghoffer’s wife, Marilyn; Sean Pannikar as Molqi; Aubrey Allicock in his Met debut as Mamoud; andRyan Speedo Green as “Rambo.”

 

The Merry Widow – Franz Lehár

Opening: December 31, 2014
Conductor: Andrew Davis/Fabio Luisi
Production: Susan Stroman
Set Design: Julian Crouch
Costume Design: William Ivey Long
Lighting Design: Paule Constable
Choreographer: Susan Stroman
English Translation: Jeremy Sams
Live in HD: January 17, 2015

Broadway director and choreographer Susan Stroman, whose many credits include the Tony Award-winning musicals Crazy For You, Contact, and The Producers, makes her Met debut with a lavish new staging of Lehár’s effervescent operetta The Merry Widow. The operetta will be performed in English, in a translation by Jeremy Sams. Lehár’s best-known composition has been an audience favorite since its 1905 premiere and features a great deal of well-known music, including “Vilja,” “You’ll Find Me at Maxim’s,” and “The Merry Widow Waltz.”

As Hanna, the widowed Parisian millionairess, Renée Fleming will add a new character to her wide-ranging Met repertory of 22 roles. Andrew Davis will conduct a cast that also includes Nathan Gunn as Hanna’s lover, Danilo; Alek Shrader as the young nobleman, Camille de Rosillon; Thomas Allen as the scheming Baron Zeta; and soprano Kelli O’Hara, currently starring on Broadway in the new musical The Bridges of Madison County, in her Met debut as the Baron’s coquettish wife, Valencienne.

In April, Fabio Luisi leads a new cast in the principal roles, headed by Susan Graham as Hanna, a role she sang at the Met to acclaim in 2004. The cast also includes Rod Gilfry as Danilo, Stephen Costello as Camille, Alan Opie as Baron Zeta, and Danielle de Niese as Valencienne.

 

MET PREMIERE: Iolanta – Peter Tchaikovsky

Duke Bluebeard’s Castle – Béla Bartók

Opening: January 26, 2015
Conductor: Valery Gergiev/Pavel Smelkov
Production: Mariusz Trelinski
Set Design: Boris Kudlicka
Costume Design: Marek Adamski
Lighting Design: Marc Heinz
Video Projection Design: Bartek Macias
Choreographer: Tomasz Wygoda
Live in HD: February 14, 2015

Mariusz Trelinski, artistic director of Warsaw’s Polish National Opera, makes his Met debut with a double bill of two rarely performed one-act works: Tchaikovsky’s romantic fairy tale Iolanta, about the psychological awakening of a blind princess, and Bartók’s harrowing Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, in which newlywed Judith must open seven locked doors to discover the full depths of her husband’s dark secrets. Valery Gergiev conducts the double bill, which is a co-production with Teatr Wielki-Polish National Opera.

Anna Netrebko stars as the title character in Iolanta, in her second Tchaikovsky role at the Met; she opened the 2013-14 season to great acclaim as Tatiana in his Eugene OneginPiotr Beczala and Alexey Markov sing Tristan Vaudémont and Robert, rivals for Iolanta’s love; baritone Elchin Azizov makes his Met debut as the physician Ibn-Hakia; and Alexei Tanovitski sings King René, Iolanta’s protective father.

Nadja Michael, who made her Met debut as Verdi’s Lady Macbeth in 2012, sings the central role of Judith in Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, with Mikhail Petrenkoas her mysterious and menacing new husband.

 

MET PREMIERE: La Donna del Lago – Gioachino Rossini

Opening: February 16, 2015
Conductor: Michele Mariotti
Production: Paul Curran
Set and Costume Design: Kevin Knight
Lighting Design: Duane Schuler
Projection Design: Driscoll Otto
Live in HD: March 14, 2015

Joyce DiDonato stars in the virtuosic title role of the bel canto rarity La Donna del Lago, Rossini’s adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem The Lady of the LakeJuan Diego Flórez sings his fifth Rossini hero at the Met as Giacomo, the benevolent king of Scotland whose life unexpectedly intersects with the destiny of the lady of the lake.

Michele Mariotti conducts debuting Scottish director Paul Curran’s production of the opera, a co-production with Santa Fe Opera, where it premiered in 2013. The cast also includes Daniela Barcellona in the trouser role of Malcolm, John Osborn as Rodrigo, and Oren Gradus as Duglas.

 

Cavalleria Rusticana – Pietro Mascagni / Pagliacci – Ruggero Leoncavallo

Opening: April 14, 2015
Conductor: Fabio Luisi
Production: David McVicar
Set Design: Rae Smith
Costume Design: Moritz Junge
Lighting Design: Paule Constable
Choreographer: Andrew George
Vaudeville Consultant: Emil Wolk
Live in HD: April 25, 2015

Fabio Luisi conducts and David McVicar directs the first new Met production of the popular verismo double bill in 45 years. McVicar’s staging will highlight the contrast between the repressed, ritualistic morality of Cavalleria Rusticana and the glitzy volatility of Pagliacci’s twisted farce.

Marcelo Álvarez makes his company role debuts in both the leading tenor parts: the unrepentant seducer Turiddu and the jealous clown Canio. Eva-Maria Westbroek will sing Santuzza, the abandoned woman at the heart of Cavalleria Rusticana, with Željko Lucic as Alfio. Patricia Racette will star as Canio’s ill-fated wife, Nedda, in Pagliacci, with George Gagnidze in his first Met performances as Tonio.

 

Repertory

The Met’s 2014-15 season features 18 revivals of works by 12 composers in a variety of operatic styles, ranging from Mozart to Shostakovich.

Two rarely heard operas will receive Met revivals in the 2014-15 season. In October, James Conlon conducts Shostakovich’s searing Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, starring Eva-Maria Westbroek as the headstrong heroine, Brandon Jovanovich as Sergei, Raymond Very as Zinovy, and Anatoli Kotscherga as Boris. The opera was last performed at the Met in 2000.

In May, James Levine leads Stravinsky’s only full-length opera, The Rake’s Progress. The cast includes Paul Appleby as Tom Rakewell, Layla Claire as Anne Trulove, Stephanie Blythe as Baba the Turk, and Gerald Finley as the diabolical Nick Shadow.

Levine will also conduct next season’s Ernani, with Plácido Domingo adding a role to his extensive Met repertory as Don Carlo, opposite Angela Meade as Elvira, Francesco Meli in the title role, and Dmitri Belosselskiy as de Silva. In April, Levine leads a revival of Un Ballo in Maschera, with three original cast members of David Alden’s production—Sondra Radvanovsky (Amelia), Dolora Zajick (Ulrica), and Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Anckarström)—joined by Piotr Beczala as Gustavo and Heidi Stober as Oscar.

In December, Levine leads Wagner’s grand human comedy Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in its first Met performances since 2007. Johan Reuter stars as Hans Sachs, with Johan Botha as Walther, Annette Dasch as Eva, Karen Cargill as Magdalene, Paul Appleby as David, Johannes Martin Kränzle in his Met debut as Beckmesser,  and Hans-Peter König as Pogner.

Levine will also conduct some February and March performances of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, starring Matthew Polenzani in the title role andAudrey Luna (Olympia), Susanna Phillips (Antonia), and Elena Maximova (Giulietta) as three of the women Hoffmann unsuccessfully romances. These performances also feature Karine Deshayes and Laurent Naouri in their first Met performances of Nicklausse and the Four Villains, respectively. Earlier performances of the opera, beginning in January, will be conducted by Yves Abel and star Vittorio Grigolo in the title role, with Hibla Gerzmava singing all four heroines, Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse, and Thomas Hampson as the Four Villains.

Franco Zeffirelli’s popular staging of La Bohème returns with multiple casts, including Angela GheorghiuKristine Opolais, and Ekaterina Scherbachenkoas Mimì opposite Ramón Vargas and Bryan Hymel as Rodolfo. Myrtò Papatanasiu (in her Met debut), Susanna Phillips, and Sonya Yoncheva sing Musetta, andMariusz KwiecienQuinn Kelsey, and Luca Salsi share the role of Marcello. Riccardo Frizza conducts all performances of La Bohème at the Met this season.

Fabio Luisi leads a revival of Verdi’s Macbeth, with Anna Netrebko in her first North American performances as Lady Macbeth. Željko Lucic sings the title role in a revival of Adrian Noble’s 2007 production, with Joseph Calleja as Macduff and René Pape as Banquo.

Richard Eyre’s production of Carmen returns with two casts, each led by an acclaimed Carmen of recent Met seasons. Anita Rachvelishvili sings the title role in the opera’s fall performances, with Aleksandrs Antonenko and Anita Hartig in their company role debuts as Don José and Micaëla, and Massimo Cavalletti andIldar Abdrazakov as Escamillo. Beginning in February, Elina Garanca returns to the role she sang in the premiere of Eyre’s production, opposite her original co-starRoberto Alagna as Don José. Jonas Kaufmann takes the role of the military officer destroyed by his love for Carmen for some performances in March. American soprano Ailyn Pérez makes her Met debut as Micaëla in the spring cast, as does Hungarian bass Gábor Bretz as Escamillo. Pablo Heras-Casado and Louis Langrée conduct this season’s performances.

This season will include the first full-length German performances of Die Zauberflöte at the Met since 2010. The cast for Julie Taymor’s production will includeToby Spence as Tamino, Pretty Yende and Miah Persson as Pamina, Ana Durlovski (in her Met debut) and Kathryn Lewek as Queen of the Night, Markus Werbaas Papageno, and René Pape and Franz-Josef Selig as Sarastro. Adam Fischer conducts.

Marco Armiliato will conduct both La Traviata and Aida this season, with Plácido Domingo leading some performances of the latter opera. Marina Rebeka, who made a notable Met debut as Donna Anna in the 2011 new production premiere of Don Giovanni, sings her first Met performances of Violetta in Traviata, withStephen Costello and Ludovic Tézier in company role debuts as Alfredo and Giorgio Germont. Later in the run, Marina Poplavskaya reprises her Violetta, which she sang in the new production premiere of Willy Decker’s staging, opposite the Alfredo of debuting Italian tenor Francesco Demuro.

Aida will star Liudmyla Monastyrska and Latonia Moore, both of whom made acclaimed Met debuts as the Ethiopian princess in 2012, with Oksana Dykaassuming the role later in the season. Olga Borodina reprises her celebrated Amneris, sharing the role with Violeta Urmana, who sings her first Met performances as the jealous princess. Marcello Giordani and Marco Berti sing the hero Radamès, and Željko Lucic and Andrzej Dobber sing Amonasro, Aida’s father.

Michele Mariotti conducts Isabel Leonard as Rosina and Lawrence Brownlee as Count Almaviva in Bartlett Sher’s production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, which features Christopher Maltman in his first Met performances of the title role.

The Met’s holiday presentation will be Richard Jones’s fanciful staging of Hansel and Gretel, conducted by Andrew DavisChristine Schäfer reprises her Gretel, with debuting mezzo-soprano Christine Rice as Hansel and Robert Brubaker returning to the role of the evil Witch. The opera, performed in English, will feature lower ticket prices and weekday matinee performances.

Alan Gilbert returns to the Met for the first time since his 2008 debut to conduct Don Giovanni, starring Peter Mattei in the title role. Elza van den Heevermakes her company role debut as Donna Anna, with Emma Bell as Donna Elvira, Kate Lindsey as Zerlina, Luca Pisaroni as Leporello, Dmitry Korchak in his Met debut as Don Ottavio, and James Morris as the Commendatore.

Diana Damrau adds a new title character to her Met repertory when she takes on the starring role in Massenet’s Manon, opposite Vittorio Grigolo as the Chevalier des Grieux. Emmanuel Villaume conducts the revival of Laurent Pelly’s production, which also stars Russell Braun as Lescaut and Nicolas Testé as the Comte des Grieux.

Albina Shagimuratova, an acclaimed Queen of the Night at the Met earlier this season, makes her company role debut as the title character in Lucia di Lammermoor. Maurizio Benini conducts a cast that also includes Joseph Calleja as Edgardo and Fabio Capitanucci as Enrico.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads Don Carlo, which he also conducted to acclaim at the 2010 new production premiere of Nicholas Hytner’s staging. The cast includes Yonghoon Lee in the title role, Barbara Frittoli as Elisabeth de Valois, Ekaterina Gubanova and Nadia Krasteva (in her Met debut) as Eboli, Simon Keenlyside as Rodrigo, Ferruccio Furlanetto as Philip II, and James Morris as the Grand Inquisitor.

The Met: Live in HD 2014-15

The 2014-15 season of The Met: Live in HD will feature 10 live transmissions of select Saturday matinees to movie theaters around the world. The HD season opens on October 11 with Macbeth and continues with Le Nozze di Figaro (October 18), Carmen (November 1), The Death of Klinghoffer (November 15), Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (December 13), The Merry Widow (January 17), Les Contes d’Hoffmann (January 31), Iolanta and Duke Bluebeard’s Castle (February 14),La Donna del Lago (March 14), and Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci (April 25).

The Peabody and Emmy Award-winning series of live transmissions into movie theaters, which enters its ninth season in 2014-15, currently reaches more than 2,000 theaters in 65 countries. The Met’s groundbreaking series launched in 2006 and quickly became the world’s leading alternative cinema content provider. More than 14 million tickets have been sold since the series’ inception.

Tickets for the 10 transmissions in the 2014-15 Live in HD season will go on sale in August in the U.S. and Canada, with Met Members offered priority before tickets are made available to the general public. International ticket sales dates and details on ordering tickets for the 2014-15 Live in HD series vary from country to country and will be announced separately by individual distributors.

The Met: Live in HD series is made possible by a generous grant from its founding sponsor, The Neubauer Family Foundation. Global corporate sponsorship of The Met: Live in HD is provided by Bloomberg. Transmission of The Met: Live in HD in Canada is made possible thanks to the generosity of Jacqueline Desmarais, in memory of Paul G. Desmarais Sr.

Within months of their initial live transmissions, the Live in HD programs are shown on PBS. The PBS series, Great Performances at the Met, is produced in association with PBS and WNET, with support from Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®. Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Met Debuts

Met debuts this season, in chronological order, include Greek soprano Myrtò Papatanasiu as Musetta in La Bohème (September 23);  Macedonian sopranoAna Durlovski as Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte (October 6); American bass-baritone Aubrey Allicock as Mamoud in The Death of Klinghoffer (October 20); Italian baritone Alessio Arduini as Schaunard in La Bohème (November 14);  German baritone Johannes Martin Kränzle as Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (December 2); American soprano Amanda Majeski as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro (December 4); Italian mezzo-soprano Serena Malfi as Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro (December 4); English mezzo-soprano Christine Rice as Hansel in Hansel and Gretel (December 18); Italian tenor Francesco Demuro as Alfredo in La Traviata (December 30); American soprano Kelli O’Hara as Valencienne in The Merry Widow (December 31); Azerbaijani baritone Elchin Azizov as Ibn-Haki in Iolanta (January 26); Russian tenor Dmitry Korchak as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni (February 4); Czech bass-baritone Adam Plachetka as Masetto in Don Giovanni (February 4); Hungarian bass-baritone Gábor Bretz as Escamillo in Carmen (February 6); American soprano Ailyn Pérez as Micaëla in Carmen (February 6); Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian as Elisabeth de Valois in Don Carlo (April 15); Bulgarian mezzo-soprano Nadia Krasteva as Eboli in Don Carlo (April 15); and English bass Brindley Sherratt as Trulove in The Rake’s Progress     (May 1).

René Pape Recital

René Pape will take the Met stage for a solo recital on Sunday, September 28, joined by pianist Camillo Radicke. The program will feature works by Dvorák, Beethoven, Ravel, and Mussorgsky. Pape, one of the most acclaimed artists on the Met roster, has sung 22 roles with the company and will sing both Banquo inMacbeth and Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte in the 2014-15 season. Pape will be the first bass to sing a recital on the Met stage since Martti Talvela in 1984.

The MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

The MET Orchestra continues its highly acclaimed annual series at Carnegie Hall with three Sunday afternoon concerts conducted by James Levine. The program for the October 12 concert, will include Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K. 467, featuring soloist Maurizio Pollini, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 9.

On February 8, the program will include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 36; Berg’s “Seven Early Songs,” with soloist Elina Garanca; Carter’s Three Illusions; and Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 in C, Op. 61.

The final concert of the season, on May 17, will begin with Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15, featuring soloist Yefim Bronfman, and conclude with Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14.

For tickets and additional information on the MET Orchestra concerts at Carnegie Hall, the public may visit www.carnegiehall.org or call (212) 247-7800.

The complete season brochure may be accessed here.

639 comments

  • Porgy Amor says:

    It was worth the price of a year’s subscription to Opera News to get Barbara Daniels’s vivid recollections of which of her tenor partners were the most sexual beings on stage (“Reunion,” March). Ha.

    Oh, also, there’s a review of a Domingo performance of Count di Luna. Whenever I see PD’s name, I start skimming and….”burnished”? Check.

  • zinka says:

    Happy Valentine’s Day,

    I SLAVED all night getting together what I wanted to see next season at theMet, having received their package. It was not easy,since I had to find a subscription that did NOT include Klinghoffer, Hansel, Rake, or Barbara Frittoli.
    One might call the items i picked a partial “tribute to Facebook friends” as we have the debut of Ailyn Perez, Jennifer Check as Donna Elvira, the return of Latonia Moore, and the return of Mr.Perez…oops..Stephen Costello,not to mention the brilliant Bryan Hymel.
    There are so many unpronouncable new names (whatever happened to “Baum” or ” Steber”??) and this looks exciting. I always love to hear new singers live for the first time and I look forward to many of them.
    If she does show up as Mimi., I may give Angela another chance (so nice of me), hoping she does not cause me to question my hearing as in the past. Same with Grigolo, whom I liked as Rodolfo, but not as the Duke, and I hope his Hoffmann will be a success.
    Of course, there are some serious “omissions,” as we have remarked, and hopefully in the near future we will see Lisette Oropesa,Irina Lungu, and especially Michael Fabiano back at the Met.
    I am sure the above post will be of the usual interest to you,and if not, there is always no-doze. Charlie

    • pobrediablo says:

      Zinka, are you expecting that Madamigella Gheorghiu’s voice would have grown since the last time you heard her? :D

      • Bianca Castafiore says:

        pobre, as I said, she’ll cancel and you get Hong again.

        • Lady Abbado says:

          I don’t know about vocal volume, but I did use Google Translate to find out what the Austrian critics thought of Gheorghiu’s December La Boheme in Vienna, and the consensus was that:
          1. The voice doesn’t show signs of aging/wearing off;
          2. Her acting got better: they remembered her earlier Mimi in Vienna in the 1990s when she was playing herself instead of Mimi and they said now she is indeed playing Mimi, not herself.

          (they also criticized Grigolo for singing too loud instead of working for vocal harmony with her, etc)

          • Regina delle fate says:

            Grigolino will go the wqy of Rolando if he carries on like this. I’m stunned she still wants to sing with him after his curtain call antics at the RO Faust two year ago.

      • zinka says:

        Who else reads the Traviata letter as Helen Keller.?????

  • hagenschmagen says:

    What happened to Rachele Gilmore? She seemed to create a lot of buzz as Olympia when she stepped in for Kim (??) when the production was new. Haven’t heard about her since.

    • la vociaccia says:

      She’s been singing a lot regionally, I think, so some people have heard from her, if not New Yorkers

    • Feldmarschallin says:

      Gilmore was decent as Olympia in the Hoffmann on Tuesday. Of the women the only fallout was Brenda Rae but Gilmore and Nakamura were both good. Calleja I like a lot and Naouri was quite good as well and a big improvement over Relyea. I thought D’Arcangelo great yesterday as the Turk. Poor Brownlee looked a bit silly in his jeans and tight tank top. He was the most unfortunate figure with all the weight in the thighs and short legs. He was no match for the tall and handsome and sexy D’Arcangelo who also is the much better actor and had the role down perfectly. Machaidze was better in the second act than in the first where she sounded shrill. Still nothing really great about her and it opera seemed to drag on forever.

      • Maury D says:

        Every time I hear the tall=hot/short=”unfortunate” dichotomy on here I wish I could crawl into the internet and punch some queen’s lights out or at least figure out a filter so that I didn’t have to read that person’s fascinating commentary anymore.

        • Feldmarschallin says:

          It isn’t so much tall vs short it is that he is short and pear shaped. Florez certainly isn’t tall either but is slim so it works. The proportions need to be correct but Brownlee seems to have all his weight in the middle. And please just skip over anything I have to say. I actually hope you stick to it and that I needn’t waste my time with replying to your stupidity.

          • MontyNostry says:

            All that being said, Brownlee looks very good in his white tie and tails on the concert stage. His suit is beautifully cut for him and he is very pfiffig altogether. (And I’d rather listen to him than Florez -- it’s a prettier voice with more energy and feeling in it.)

            • Cicciabella says:

              Brownlee is a very fine tenor, whatever he’s wearing. Refusing unflattering costumes should not be left up to singers, although kudos to those who have the clout and character to do so. Artistic management should vet costume design from start to finish, and top to bottom from lead singers to walk-ons.

              Designer team Viktor & Rolf were democratic in giving the whole Freischütz cast unflattering silhouettes in this 2009 production from Baden Baden. The talented duo proudly declared on Dutch TV that they hate opera (sorry, couldn’t find a citation or Toob clip), so naturally they couldn’t possibly refuse an invitation to design for the opera.

            • MontyNostry says:

              There’s more from Viktor and Rolf here
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZf6moVgTQI

              Those costumes are very beautiful in the way, but like something for a Dadaist play. And it all looks so 1980s.

            • MontyNostry says:

              … I hadn’t realised it was a Robert Wilson production. Just imagine, all that work on the colours for the costumes, just so they can be bathed in all-enveloping blue light.

            • Cicciabella says:

              NY Times review of the Wilson/Viktor & Rolf/Swarovski Freischütz: http://tinyurl.com/pfnopza

          • armerjacquino says:

            Which was the ‘stupid’ bit? You DID suggest that short legs are unfortunate and being tall is hot.

            • Feldmarschallin says:

              Stupid is when goes on stage wearing things that do not flatter but make you look worse. I have seen Brownlee in his white tie and he looks perfectly fine. But there are not that many opera singers who can get away with wearing anything and look great. But there are ways to hide things and to distract from one body part that is not flattering. Röschmann was another unfortunate one as Elvira. She has a similar shape as Brownlee and they had her in sneakers with stockings and a skirt that made her legs look even shorter. I have seen Röschmann other times when she looked much better for example the Paminas at the Met and Garden or the Susannas everywhere more or less. But to put Brownlee in tight jeans and a tight tank top draws attention to those areas. Brownlee already was not flattered in his Ramiro costume which I believe was originally made for Araiza. Now to just make a larger version that fits will not do. Empire style dresses for example can be very flattering if you are tall and slender or even if you are a little thicker in the bad or thighs since they are free flowing but if you put Damrau who is not very tall in something like that it makes her look shorter. Ditto with a dress that has a huge skirt ala that white dress Callas wore in the early Traviatas. Now if you are tall like Callas, Harteros, Tebaldi, Radvanosky, Mattila, Schwanewilms or Sutherland you can get away with a big crinoline but to put that same style dress on a Damrau or Röschmann or Varady and they would get lost and make them even shorter. And there are plenty of hot guys who are short and tall guys who are not.

            • -Ed. says:

              Indeed! The silhouette one presents matters a great deal while onstage. Even the greatest sometimes make a mistake, for example I’ve always thought this gown worn by Only Maria for her Paris recital in 1958 was a mistake. From a distance it gives her the silhouette of a tall and glamorous traffic cone.

            • Indiana Loiterer III says:

              And, folks, that is why singers used to bring their own costumes to every production.

            • MontyNostry says:

              And Callas wasn’t happy with her ankles, I believe.

            • oedipe says:

              And Gheorghiu once refused to wear a blonde wig.

            • armerjacquino says:

              I’ve always been totally Team Gheorghiu on that one, even though some people hold it up as an example of diva antics. While you should always be expected to do the blocking and wear the costume of the production you’re in, if a performer feels unhappy and uncomfortable with something they’re wearing- especially something as relatively unimportant as a wig- then it should be changed. I’ve asked for wigs to be changed in my time and the response has always been ‘of course’. Volpe comes across as a bully and a pig in that story.

            • kashania says:

              Agreed. I can’t imagine Gherghiu looking anything but unnatural in a blond wig. And I don’t see how having the character be a brunette would’ve affected the dramatic integrity of Zeff’s production.

            • Grane says:

              I seem to remember Heidi Grant Murphy as an angel in Orfeo, dangling from a wire in jeans and a crew shirt. Not the best look for her. A simple little gown would have been fine!

            • Grane says:

              Yup, here it is. Even worse than I remembered.

            • Krunoslav says:

              Ellen DeGeneres channeling Kathryn Grayson. The worst Amor in my experience, save for the boy soprano on the *catastrophic* Peter Hofmann recording.

            • Porgy Amor says:

              Other brunette beauties looking all wrong as blondes:

              I reluctantly side with my bête noire Gheorghiu here. I never quite understood, even when reading it from his side, why Volpe dug in his heels so on the point of that wig. Maybe he just felt by then that if you gave an inch, she would take a mile? When you have someone as attractive as AG was at that time in a production, you should take full advantage; have her looking her best.

              However, once she had agreed to wear it, she should have ceded the point and been a pro about it, not passive-aggressively protested by wearing it crookedly with part of her own hair sticking out, and having to be reprimanded again over it. (Assuming for the sake of argument that that particular Tale of Uncle Joe is accurate.)

            • Poison Ivy says:

              I think it was just one of those cases where Joe Volpe was being a dick for no reason.

            • La Cieca says:

              Joe Volpe being a dick wasn’t a bug but a feature. He was put in place to play bad cop to Levine’s good cop, to fire Kathleen Battle for example when Levine had no more use for her. That way Levine got exactly what he wanted, all the authority with none of the responsibility. An added perk for Volpe was that pointless bullying, especially of women, seemed to give him immense pleasure.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              Could also have been the fact that Joe was having an affair with Waltraud Meier at the time, and Meier didn’t want to go onstage with Angela looking her best.

            • hawksmoor says:

              La Cieca: “[Volpe}He was put in place to play bad cop to Levine’s good cop, to fire Kathleen Battle for example when Levine had no more use for her. That way Levine got exactly what he wanted, all the authority with none of the responsibility.” NOW I FINALLY UNDERSTAND BILLY BUDD! Levine as Vere. Volpe as Claggart!

            • kashania says:

              They also lightened Domingo’s hair for Lohengrin. Not very convincing.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              The weirdest hair color rules apply to the Ring. Brunnhilde has to be a redhead of some sorts, Sieglinde a blonde/brunette. Siegfried has to be blonde.

            • Ruxxy says:

              Brunettes who want to look natural in blonde wigs need only to lighten their eyebrows and it all seems to work beautifully. Naturally if a nude scene is required -- Tasmania has to be blonde matched or it can all look rather weird,

      • MontyNostry says:

        Feldmarschallin -- where was that ‘Hoffmann’? I can’t seem to locate it. And did Brenda Rae pull out? She was excellent in the coloratura role of the Princess in a concert performance of Offenbach’s Fantasio in London recently.

        • Feldmarschallin says:

          The Hoffmann was in the Nationaltheater. Rae didn’t pull out but I found her lacking in comparision to the other two ladies. She doesn’t have the sensual timbre I would expect from a Venetian courtesan. Damrau also had the Amy Whinehouse act better down.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Why do they cast a high soprano (a Zerbinetta, for instance!) as Giulietta, though? Crazy. Rae could do Olympia and Antonia far better!

            • oedipe says:

              Because when it comes to Hoffmann, anything goes: you are allowed to transpose down, transpose up, cut, add, delete, replace, switch, tweak…

            • Indiana Loiterer III says:

              Or because Giulietta was in fact a high soprano role as originally conceived by Offenbach.

            • MontyNostry says:

              But don’t the versions generally performed presuppose a falcon/mezzo for Giulietta?

            • Lady Abbado says:

              A rare treat…she was Antonia…

            • Regina delle fate says:

              Monty -- it’s the same production that came to ENO with Gloria/Claudia (?) Jarman. I believe Damrau did all four heroines when the production opened in Munich. I would have thought Rae could have done the three singing roles in the Damrau version without much trouble.

            • MontyNostry says:

              Giorgia (on my mind) Jarman, I think, Regina -- who was pretty good too. I very much like what I’ve heard of Rae -- she has some style as well as the notes.

            • MontyNostry says:

              Talking of American imports to ENO (which we f***ing Brits welcome, of course … provided they sing well), I do think Sara Jakubiak (last year’s Marie in Wozzeck) really does have a good sound.

            • Regina delle fate says:

              Jakubiak is doing the ENO Tcherniakov Lady M of M next season, I’m told.

            • Buster says:

              Jakubiak did very well in the Andrea Breth Gambler. One of those productions that stay with you for a long time.

              The Flemish Opera Lady M of M (Bieto) next month will have John Tomlinson, and Ausrine Stundyte, of whom I have never heard before.

            • Regina delle fate says:

              Buster -- Ausrine Stundyte was until recently a member of the Oper Köln ensemble and I’ve seen her in mainly small roles -- Rhinemaidens, Valkyries etc, but recently she has been picking up Sieglindes and Chyrsothemises in some quite good, though not leading houses. I’m sure I’ve seen her as Sieglinde somewhere and I have a vivid memory of her, but I can’t for the life of me think where it was. I’ll consult Opera Base.

            • Regina delle fate says:

              Buster -- you must have missed her Charodeika in Antwerpen! Shame on you!!!!

            • Buster says:

              Thanks Regina! How could I have missed that indeed :-) I’ll make up for this, and check her out in that Bieito Lady M of M.

        • Lady Abbado says:

          This thread is weird: if someone replies to a post, I see no “reply” option to reply to the reply…hence I end up posting in all the wrong place.

          But anyway, the full 1997 Carmen with Meier -- Gheorghiu-Domingo is here (Micaela’s aria begins at 1:57:00, but in the duet “Parle-moi de ma mere” which begins at 31:00, she looks blonder still!):

          • PetertheModest says:

            I thought Meier was okay as Carmen, not as good as her Kundry or Isolde, but pretty much okay-to-good.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        Did Naouri sing “Scintille diamant” in that Munich production’s pathetic version of the Giullietta act?

      • pobrediablo says:

        D’Arcangelo tall? He seems actually quite short.

        • Fifi Figaro says:

          Pobrediablo: D’Arcangelo isn’t short, he’s medium height. I’m 6 feet tall and he’s an inch or two shorter than me. But he’s as slender as a rail, which probably makes him appear taller on stage.

          • MontyNostry says:

            I’ve only seen D’Arcangelo as Escamillo -- he looked good, of course, but distinctly short in the leg. And a bit short of voice too.

            • manou says:

              …and not a very proficient horse rider.

            • Rackon says:

              LOL, no, and he didn’t look very comfortable astride in the Carmen broadcast/DVD, but that Friesian was a big hoss so I can cut him some slack. How many opera singers ride well?

            • Rackon says:

              LOL, no, and he didn’t look very comfortable astride in the Carmen broadcast/DVD, but that Friesian was a big hoss so I can cut him some slack. How many opera singers ride well?

            • manou says:

              In subsequent performances he walked in near the horse.

            • MontyNostry says:

              Let’s face it, the livestock were the highlight of that production by the prolific Ms Zambello.

          • UpB7 says:

            Being very slender does help people appear even taller than they are.

            At the same time, if D’Arcangelo is one or two inches shorter than 6 feet tall (5 ft 10 -- or 5 ft 11), then he is still tall. Not very tall, but tall just the same.
            According to a few sources, the average height of a man worldwide is 5 ft 8, while the average height of a man in the U.S. is 5 ft 9.

            • pobrediablo says:

              I remember seeing him in that Carmen production from Vienna in 2010 and Netrebko seemed taller than him (waiting backstage for the curtain calls).

            • oedipe says:

              Pobre,

              I know for a fact that Garanca is 5ft9. D’Arcangelo is about Garanca’s height (as you can see in the Vienna Bolena video in the scene where the two of them are smooching). Which means he is about 5ft9. Netrebko must be about 5ft7: look at Utube videos with the two women singing together and you will see. Now, if Netrebko was wearing 4inch high heels when you saw her, that’s another matter.

            • pobrediablo says:

              It’s possible. I, for the longest, thought that Ildebrando was very tall ever since seeing him in the Salzburg Nozze towering over Schaefer. So maybe that’s why later on when I discovered he wasn’t that tall, I remained with the impression that he’s short. Well, 5’9” is certainly not tall for a man. Average -- yes.

  • oedipe says:

    OT, for those interested in Zimmermann and in contemporary music:

    Live concert today on France Musique, at 2:00pm NY time, from Salle Pleyel:

    Wolfgang Rihm -- Nähe Fern 2 et 3
    Philippe Manoury -- Zones de turbulences
    Bernd Alois Zimmermann -- Die Soldaten (Symphonie vocale pour six chanteurs et orchestre)

    http://tinyurl.com/n5cczfn

    The concert is part of a contemporary music festival entitled “Festival Présences 2014″. All the concerts will be broadcast on France Musique. The detailed program of the festival can be found here:

    http://sites.radiofrance.fr/chaines/formations/presences/concert_list.php

    • redbear says:

      Manoury, who was (is) a professor at UC San Diego (couldn’t find a position in France!) composed a very engaging opera which I saw in 2011 in Strasbourg, “La Nuit de Gutenberg.” The inventor of movable type (done in Strasbourg) returns as a street person to the present city with all the kids busy texting.

      • redbear says:

        The second half of this concert has a symphonic version of Die Soldaten done by Zimmermann with six soloists.

  • zinka says:

    When I speak of the past, some people say, sometimes angrily,”But they are DEAD..or retired.” However, after Destinn,there was Ponselle, and Zinka..and after Caruso,there was Martinelli, and then Tucker and Corelli and del Monaco…
    So, amici miei, tell me about the last great Sieglinde..Her name was Leonie…and so it goes..many roles have never been filled by ANYONE who are special.
    The reverse is true also….We had no Di Donatos and Florezes(is that the plural?). We had lyric tenors..but not nearly as many fine ones as today,especially from Poland.
    Therefore, do not attempt to tell me that “there never were Golden ages.” Go look at the Met Annals…and tell me if you would ever be home in 1920…..I was rarely home in 1955…even with Baum around..but the GREATS were there…and you had no trouble over those years finding decent Aidas, Brunnhildes, Manricos, etc. The DRAMATIC roles are the problem today..Look at the light-voiced Reuter for Sachs next season..Look at Frittoli as Elizabetta..remember Freni,Scotto, Stella,Steber (Zinka thought it was not good enough for her.)
    Just go back and do my “….is to…..as…..is to……”

    Meaning: Stignani….Elmo…Barbieri…Cossotto…Zajick..and now????????????????????
    Get my drift??( Ooops..snow again!) Charlie

  • Grane says:

    Enough with the snow metaphors already! You’re starting to sound a little flaky.

  • zinka says:

    Jerky Zinka….I do not know where I got that three yr.thing..I think I listened to another jerk…..

  • zinka says:

    I goofed…Some idiot said three..years..non e ver…

  • La Valkyrietta says:

    I’m not too happy with a manor in 1920s Seville. I think this coming Met season will just often lead me next door. How can they destroy a symphony with regietheater? I’m listening to all the Eroica versions on youtube. I guess for that instead of a projection of Napoleon covering all the back of the band that is torn down during the first two staccato chords, they could have one of Idi Amin. Thank God Avery Fisher does not have a “clever director”, just a conductor.

  • stignanispawn says:

    This is the first time I’ve actually thought of not upping my subscription. Of course I will, but there is no real excitement in the coming season. Interestingly, this year’s subscription brochure is a much less expensive print piece than those of the past few years and the monochrome nature of the subscription brochure is, to me, symbolic of what’s ahead at the Metropolitan Opera in 2014-15.