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The advent of the Nézet-Séguin era: announcing the Metropolitan Opera’s 2018-2019 season

Accelerating his arrival as Music Director by two seasons, Yannick Nézet-Séguin will take up the post in time for the start of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2018–19 season, it was announced today. By freeing up some guest conducting weeks in his busy calendar in both the 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons, Nézet-Séguin will now be able to conduct three operas and two Met Orchestra concerts at Carnegie Hall in each of those seasons, instead of the two operas per season originally scheduled. 

With the assumption of the Music Director title in the fall of 2018, Nézet-Séguin will also be taking on the full artistic responsibilities for the orchestra, chorus, and music staff. His full-time collaboration with Met General Manager Peter Gelb on all other artistic matters will also begin at that time. As previously announced, Nézet-Séguin will begin conducting a minimum of five operas per season starting with the 2020–21 season.

The new Music Director will be a significant presence on the podium in the 2018-19 season. In addition to leading the new La Traviata and conducting the two Carnegie Hall concerts, Maestro Nézet-Séguin will also lead revivals of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande and Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites.

It was also announced that the Neubauer Family Foundation, founding sponsors of the Met’s successful Live in HD transmissions to movie theaters, now in its 12th season, has made a $15 million gift to name the Music Director position in honor of Nézet-Séguin’s appointment. In recognition of this gift, the position will be called the Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer Music Director, the first time in the history of the Met that the position has been named. Mrs. Lerman-Neubauer is a member of the Executive Committee of the Met’s Board. Her husband, Joseph Neubauer, former Chairman and CEO of Aramark, is a well known philanthropist who is Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the University of Chicago and Chairman of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

The Met’s 2018-19 season opens on September 24 with Tony Award winner Darko Tresnjak’s new production of Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila, conducted by Sir Mark Elder, starring Roberto Alagna and Elina Garanca in the title roles. Nico Muhly’s new opera Marnie has its North American premiere a few weeks later, conducted by Robert Spano, with Isabel Leonard in the title role. Marnie is directed by Michael Mayer, who is also responsible for a new La Traviata, conducted by Nézet-Séguin and starring Diana Damrau. The final new production is from Sir David McVicar: Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, starring Anna Netrebko in the title role.

Because of the significant production demands and rehearsal time required by the revival of the Lepage Ring cycle, the Met is presenting only four new productions this season.

Wagner’s epic four-opera masterwork, Der Ring des Nibelungen, returns to the Met this season for the first time since 2013. Philippe Jordan, Music Director of the Paris Opera, will lead all three cycles of Robert Lepage’s production, beginning March 9, 2019. Soprano Christine Goerke leads the cast with her first Met performances as the warrior maiden Brünnhilde.

In addition to the Ring, the season features 18 revivals, including Verdi’s Aida, with Anna Netrebko singing the title role for the first time at the Met; Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West, with tenor Jonas Kaufmann returning to the Met to star opposite Eva-Maria Westbroek; and Verdi’s Otello, with Gustavo Dudamel making a highly anticipated Met conducting debut.

“It is wonderful for the entire company that Yannick will assume his duties two seasons ahead of schedule, said General Manager Peter Gelb. “The orchestra loves him, the chorus loves him, everyone in the building loves him. He is a truly great artist under whom the Met will only thrive.” Referring to the gift from the Neubauer Family Foundation, Gelb said, “The Met is so fortunate to be the recipient of such enlightened and generous philanthropy from two of our most loyal supporters, who believe in the power of transformative gifts.”

Yannick Nézet-Séguin said, “The Metropolitan Opera is the greatest opera company in the world and I’m honored to become its next Music Director. I’m eager to continue to collaborate with the Met Orchestra, Chorus, and administration to keep the Met’s artistic standards at the highest level, and to amplify the great work the company already does to reach new audiences and ensure the future of the art form. I have worked with the Neubauers for many years in Philadelphia and know how committed they are to supporting the arts. Their extraordinary generosity for the work of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Met makes this exciting moment even more humbling for me.”

Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer said, “Yannick insists on the timeless virtues that have led the Met to the highest standards of artistic expression. But he also adds a new kind of energy, making opera a compelling choice for broader and younger audiences. We believe his enthusiasm, energy, and inspired music-making will continue to be a major asset for the Met and will push the boundaries even further for what great opera can achieve.”


New Productions

Samson et Dalila – Camille Saint-Saëns OPENING NIGHT

Opening: September 24, 2018
Conductor: Sir Mark Elder
Production: Darko Tresnjak
Set Designer: Alexander Dodge
Costume Designer: Linda J. Cho
Lighting Designer: Donald Holder
Choreographer: Austin McCormick
Live in HD: October 20, 2018

The season opens with a new production of Saint-Saëns’s biblical tragedy Samson et Dalila, conducted by Sir Mark Elder and starring El?na Garan?a and Roberto Alagna, last seen together at the Met in acclaimed performances of Bizet’s Carmen. Laurent Naouri co-stars as the High Priest opposite Elchin Azizov as the Philistine King Abimélech and Dmitry Belosselskiy as the Old Hebrew. Beginning March 13, Elder returns to lead Anita Rachvelishvili and Aleksandrs Antonenko as the title characters, with Tomasz Konieczny and Günther Groissböck joining the cast as Abimélech and the Old Hebrew, respectively. Darko Tresnjak, the Tony Award-winning director of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, makes his Met debut directing the first new Met production of the opera in 20 years.

Marnie – Nico Muhly MET PREMIERE
Opening: October 19, 2018
Conductor: Robert Spano
Libretto: Nicholas Wright
Production: Michael Mayer
Set and Projection Designers: Julian Crouch and 59 Productions
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
Lighting Designer: Kevin Adams
Choreographer: Lynne Page
Live in HD: November 10, 2018

Nico Muhly’s Marnie, based on Winston Graham’s novel, which also inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, has its Met premiere on October 19. Isabel Leonard stars in the title role opposite Christopher Maltman as her blackmailing husband, Mark Garland, Iestyn Davies as his brother, Terry, Janis Kelly as Mrs. Rutland, and acclaimed mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves as Marnie’s mother. Co-commissioned by the Met and sung in English, Marnie is one of two new productions directed by the Tony Award winner Michael Mayer next season at the Met, in addition to a revival of his staging of Verdi’s Rigoletto. Robert Spano makes his company debut leading this Met premiere. Marnie is a co-production with English National Opera, where the opera premiered in 2017.

La Traviata – Giuseppe Verdi
Opening: December 4, 2018
Conductor: Yannick Nézet-Séguin / Nicola Luisotti
Production: Michael Mayer
Set Designer: Christine Jones
Costume Designer: Susan Hilferty
Lighting Designer: Kevin Adams
Choreographer: Lorin Latarro
Live in HD: December 15, 2018

Yannick Nézet-Séguin makes his first Met appearance as Music Director conducting Verdi’s La Traviata, directed by Michael Mayer, featuring a dazzling 18th-century setting that changes with the seasons. Diana Damrau, who made her acclaimed role debut as Violetta at the Met during the 2012-13 season, returns as the tragic heroine, opposite Juan Diego Flórez as her lover, Alfredo, and Quinn Kelsey as Alfredo’s protective father, Giorgio Germont. Beginning April 5, Nicola Luisotti conducts Anita Hartig as Violetta, Stephen Costello as Alfredo, and Artur Ruci?ski and Plácido Domingo sharing the role of the elder Germont.

Adriana Lecouvreur – Francesco Cilea NEW YEAR’S EVE GALA
Opening: December 31, 2018
Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda
Production: Sir David McVicar
Set Designer:Charles Edwards
Costume Designer: Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Lighting Designer: Adam Silverman
Choreographer: Adam Pudney
Live in HD: January 12, 2019

For the first time at the Met, Anna Netrebko sings the title role of Adriana Lecouvreur, the great 18th-century actress in love with the military hero Maurizio, sung by Piotr Beczala. Gianandrea Noseda conducts Cilea’s tragedy, directed by Sir David McVicar, with the action partially set in a working replica of a Baroque theater. The cast also features Anita Rachvelishvili as the Principessa de Bouillon, Adriana’s rival for Maurizio’s affections, and Ambrogio Maestri as Michonnet, Adriana’s faithful friend. For the performances on January 23 and 29, Jennifer Rowley takes on the title role.

Der Ring des Nibelungen – Richard Wagner

Wagner’s epic four-opera masterwork, Der Ring des Nibelungen, returns to the Met this season. Philippe Jordan, Music Director of the Paris Opera, will lead all three cycles of Robert Lepage’s production, beginning March 9, 2019. Among the returning and new Wagnerian stars in leading roles are Christine Goerke as the warrior maiden Brünnhilde; Greer Grimsley and Michael Volle as Wotan; Stefan Vinke and Andreas Schager as the fearless hero Siegfried; Eva-Maria Westbroek as Sieglinde; Stuart Skelton as her twin, the ill-fated Siegmund; Jamie Barton as Fricka, the formidable queen of the gods; Tomasz Konieczny in his Met debut as the scheming Alberich; Karen Cargill as the Earth goddess Erda; Sarah Connolly as Brünnhilde’s sister, Waltraute; Gerhard Siegel returning as the wily dwarf Mime; Evgeny Nikitin as the manipulated Gunther; Dmitry Belosselskiy as the giant (and later the dragon) Fafner; Günther Groissböck as his brother, Fasolt, and the brutal Hunding; and Eric Owens as the villainous Hagen. In addition to the three complete cycles, the Met will present individual, non-cycle performances of Das Rheingold on March 14, 2019, and Die Walküre on March 25 and April 25, 2019.

Repertory Highlights

La Bohème returns on September 25 with James Gaffigan making his Met debut conducting all performances. Nicole Car makes her company debut as Mimì opposite Vittorio Grigolo as Rodolfo, with Angel Blue adding another role to her Met repertory as Musetta and Étienne Dupuis making his Met debut as Marcello. Later performances of Franco Zeffirelli’s production will boast Ailyn Pérez, Michael Fabiano, Susanna Phillips, and Simone Piazzola as the bohemians.

Anna Netrebko makes her Met role debut in the title role of the enslaved Ethiopian princess in Verdi’s tragedy of ancient Egypt, Aida, opening September 26, with Anita Rachvelishvili as her formidable rival, Amneris. The cast also features Aleksandrs Antonenko as the warrior Radamès and Quinn Kelsey as Aida’s father, Amonasro, under the baton of Nicola Luisotti. On January 7, Sonja Frisell’s production returns with Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role with Dolora Zajick and Olesya Petrova as Amneris, Yonghoon Lee as Radamès, and Roberto Frontali as Amonasro. For the later performances Luisotti will share podium duties with Plácido Domingo.

Jonas Kaufmann and Yusif Eyvazov star in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West, sharing the role of the outlaw Dick Johnson, opposite Eva-Maria Westbroek in the title role of the saloon owner Minnie. Giancarlo Del Monaco’s production opens October 17, with Željko Lucic as the sheriff Jack Rance and Marco Armiliato conducting all performances.

Sondra Radvanovsky stars in the title role of Tosca, featuring Joseph Calleja as Cavaradossi and Wolfgang Koch as Scarpia, in Sir David McVicar’s production from the 2017-18 season, beginning October 25. Later, from March 18, Jennifer Rowley sings the title diva. Carlo Rizzi conducts all performances.

Omer Meir Wellber conducts Carmen beginning October 30. Clémentine Margaine returns in her signature role as the gypsy seductress following her 2017 triumph in Sir Richard Eyre’s production, with Yonghoon Lee and Roberto Alagna as Don José, Guanqun Yu as the devoted Micaëla, and Kyle Ketelsen as the toreador Escamillo. Louis Langrée conducts later performances, beginning January 9, with Aleksandra Kurzak as Micaëla and Alexander Vinogradov as Escamillo.

For the first time since 2000, Robert Carsen’s production of Arrigo Boito’s only opera, Mefistofele, returns to the Met on November 8, starring Christian Van Horn as the title character, with Michael Fabiano as Faust, Angela Meade as Margherita, and Jennifer Check as Helen of Troy.

In November, Pretty Yende stars in Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles as the beautiful Hindu priestess pursued by Javier Camarena and Mariusz Kwiecien as the rival pearl divers competing for her hand. Penny Woolcock’s 2015 production has its first revival, conducted by Emmanuel Villaume. Nicolas Testé returns as the high priest Nourabad.

Il Trittico, which received its world premiere at the Met exactly 100 years ago, comprised of three one-act Puccini operas, Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi, returns to the Met from November 23 in the popular 2007 production by Jack O’Brien. Amber Wagner sings Giorgetta with Marcelo Alvarez as Luigi and George Gagnidze and Lucio Gallo as Michele in Il Tabarro; Kristine Opolais sings the title role in Suor Angelica; Plácido Domingo sings the title role of Gianni Schicchi, with Kristina Mkhitaryan in her Met debut as Lauretta, and Atalla Ayan as Rinuccio. They are joined by Stephanie Blythe, who repeats her much admired portrayals of Frugola in Il Tabarro, the Principessa in Suor Angelica, and Zita in Gianni Schicchi. Bertrand de Billy conducts.

Gustavo Dudamel makes his Met debut on December 14, conducting Verdi’s Otello in Bartlett Sher’s 2015 production starring Stuart Skelton in the title role, with Sonya Yoncheva reprising her acclaimed interpretation of Desdemona and Željko Lu?i? as Iago.

The Met will again stage a holiday presentation, continuing a tradition begun in 2006. The abridged, English-language version of Julie Taymor’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute opens December 19. The cast includes Erin Morley as Pamina, Kathryn Lewek as the Queen of the Night, Ben Bliss as Tamino, Nathan Gunn as Papageno, Morris Robinson as Sarastro, and Brenton Ryan as Monostatos. Harry Bicket will conduct all of the performances. An “Open House” for families, attracting hundreds of young audience members for behind-the-scenes displays and demonstrations by members of the Met’s backstage staff, will again be a highlight of the season on December 29.

Pelléas et Mélisande returns to the Met stage for the first time in almost a decade starting January 15, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Isabel Leonard stars as Mélisande and Paul Appleby as Pelléas, with Marie-Nicole Lemieux as Geneviève, Kyle Ketelsen as Golaud, and Ferruccio Furlanetto as Arkel in Sir Jonathan Miller’s production.

The Met’s 2015 production of two rarely performed one-act operas returns in January: Tchaikovsky’s romantic fairy tale Iolanta, with Sonya Yoncheva in the title role of a blind princess and Matthew Polenzani as Count Vaudémont, a knight who loves her; and Bartók’s harrowing Bluebeard’s Castle, with Angela Denoke as the bride who gradually uncovers the terrifying truth about her new husband, sung by Gerald Finley. Henrik Nánási makes his Met debut to conduct both operas, presented in Mariusz Trelinski’s production.

Conducted by Cornelius Meister making his company debut on January 30, Mozart’s Don Giovanni features Luca Pisaroni and Peter Mattei in the title role. Michael Grandage’s production features Rachel Willis-Sørensen and Guanqun Yu as Donna Anna, Susanna Phillips as Donna Elvira, Aida Garifullina in her Met debut and Serena Malfi as Zerlina, and Stanislas de Barbeyrac in his company debut sharing Don Ottavio with Pavol Breslik. Ildar Abdrazakov and Adam Plachetka share the role of Leporello.

Donizetti’s comedy La Fille du Régiment will return to the Met in February, with Pretty Yende and Javier Camarena in the leading roles of the tomboy Marie and Tonio, the soldier who loves her. Enrique Mazzola will conduct the opera, seen in Laurent Pelly’s light-hearted staging. Stephanie Blythe will play the Marquise of Berkenfield, with Alessandro Corbelli and Maurizio Muraro singing the role of stout-hearted Sergeant Sulpice.

With performances from February 12, Verdi’s Rigoletto stars Nadine Sierra and Rosa Feola as Gilda, opposite Vittorio Grigolo and Bryan Hymel as the Duke, and Roberto Frontali and George Gagnidze in the title role. Nicola Luisotti conducts Michael Mayer’s 1960s Las Vegas-themed production.

Verdi’s final masterpiece, Falstaff, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, conducted by Richard Farnes, returns February 22, with Ambrogio Maestri in the title role following his lauded portrayal in the 2013-14 season. Robert Carsen’s production, set in post-war 1950s Britain, also stars Ailyn Pérez as Alice Ford, Juan Jesús Rodríguez as the jealous Ford, Golda Schultz as their daughter, Nannetta, and Marie-Nicole Lemieux as the cunning Mistress Quickly.

In the spring, Lothar Koenigs conducts La Clemenza di Tito, with Matthew Polenzani adding a new Mozart role to his repertoire as the noble title character, and Joyce DiDonato singing Sesto for the first time at the Met. Elza van den Heever co-stars as the imperious Vitellia. Ying Fang portrays Servilia, Christian Van Horn sings the role of Publio, and Paula Murrihy plays Annio, in Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s 1984 staging.

Led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Poulenc’s masterpiece Dialogues des Carmélites, about a group of nuns caught in the maelstrom of the French Revolution, begins performances on May 3, 2019. John Dexter’s production stars Isabel Leonard reprising her acclaimed performance as Blanche de la Force, Adrianne Pieczonka as Mme. Lidoine, Erin Morley returning as Sister Constance, David Portillo as Blanche’s brother, Chevalier de la Force, and Karita Mattila as the First Prioress.

The MET Orchestra continues its highly acclaimed annual series of three performances at Carnegie Hall in 2018-19. On May 18, Valery Gergiev conducts the Met Orchestra in a program of Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Daniil Trifonov, and Schubert’s Great C Major Symphony. On June 3 Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads a presentation of French music (Debussy, Dutilleux and Ravel), in a program featuring mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, and on June 14 he will conduct Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder with El?na Garan?a, and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7.

The 2018-19 season of The Met: Live in HD will kick off October 6 with Aida. The series will continue with Samson et Dalila (October 20), La Fanciulla del West (October 27), Marnie (November 10), La Traviata (December 15), Adriana Lecouvreur (January 12), Carmen (February 2), La Fille du Régiment (March 2), Die Walküre (March 30), and Dialogues des Carmélites (May 11).

Photo: Rose Callahan / Met Opera