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Sunday, August 7, 2011

The 2011-2012 Metropolitan Opera Season Preview

All the operas, from Anna Bolena to Billy Budd. 
by Paul Pelkonen.
Queen Anna: Ms. Netrebko in Anna Bolena. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe © 2011 The Metropolitan Opera
After spending the summer in deep negotiations with the various unions that make up the staff of the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center' sole remaining opera company is gearing up for an exciting 2011-2012 season.
Come blow your horn. Gary Lehman as Siegfried. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe © 2011 The Metropolitan Opera
The schedule this year is already fraught with drama, and the gold curtain has yet to rise on the company's new staging of Donizetti's Anna Bolena, the final chapters of the Robert Lepage Ring cycle, or The Enchanted Island, the "baroque pastiche" that opens on New Year's Eve.

There are a few things to note before we get to the season:

All performances now start at 7:30 instead of 8. Whether this is an attempt to appease bridge-and-tunnel opera lovers or get more people to watch the operas in the comfort of List Hall is anyone's guess.

Ticket prices are once again higher. Subscribers who want to change out an opera have to now pay a $7.50 service fee per ticket--a 50% increase--unless you're changing the night you're going but not switching operas.

The company is doing three full cycles of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen this year. Unfortunately, they've changed the scheduling of the operas so it's no longer possible to go to a complete cycle in the course of one week.

Here's a quick breakdown of the season by month:

The season starts on Monday, Sept. 26 with a gala performance of Anna Bolena with Anna Netrebko in the title role. For the rest of us mortals, Nabucco is the first generale opera of the year.

Ladies' Man: Mariusz Kwiecien is Don Giovanni. Photo by Nick Heavican © 2011 The Metropolitan Opera
The repertory operas in October are AnnaNabucco, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and two new productions: Don Giovanni and Siegfried. Gary Lehman (a late replacement for tenor Ben Heppner) takes on the arduous task of being the world's dumbest hero. There's also a recital featuring Jonas Kaufmann on Oct. 30.

As the leaves turn, revivals of Philip Glass' Satyagraha (part of the celebration of the composer's 75th birthday) and Handel's Rodelinda (starring Renée Fleming) join the repertory. La bohème returns (again) and the new "atomic age" Faust (a co-production with English National Opera) starring Mr. Kaufmann and Marina Poplavskaya has its premiere.
Witchy Woman: Joyce DiDonato is Sycorax in the new pastiche The Enchanted Island. 
Photo by Nick Heavican © 2011 The Metropolitan Opera.
Featured operas this month include revivals of Madama Butterfly, La Fille du régiment and Hansel and Gretel. New Year's Eve marks the premiere of The Enchanted Island, a pastiche of works by Handel and Vivaldi starring David Daniels and Joyce DiDonato. It is a sort of Shakespearean prequel to The Tempest, with a new libretto by Jeremy Sams.

January 2012:
The Luc Bondy Tosca gets another go-round. Expect another set of directorial tweaks. The month ends with the premiere of the new Götterdämmerung, the last chapter of the Ring.

February: February features a number of operas continuing in repertory, a rare revival of Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina along with two Verdi classics: Ernani and Aida.

The busiest month on the Met calendar opens with the re-teaming of Juan Diego Flórez and Diana Damrau in a revival of L'Elisir d'Amore. Also, Adrian Noble's well-received 2007 production of Verdi's Macbeth. Madama Butterfly returns (with Patricia Racette in the title role) alongside a second run of Don Giovanni starring baritone Gerald Finley.
Is this a bust? Anna Netrebko as Manon. Photo by Bill Cooper © 2010 Royal Opera House of Covent Garden.
Das Rheingold and Die Walküre return, as the Met schedule is dominated by the three scheduled Ring cycles. But in between the clanks and thunks of Robert Lepage's whirring machine set, the company's new production of Manon and last year's La Traviata finds both of these ladies open for business.

The very end of the season features the last of the three Ring cycles, alongside rare revivals of Billy Budd (starring Nathan Gunn in the title role with James Morris as the evil John "Jemmy Legs" Claggart) and The Makropoulos Case (with Karita Mattila in the title role). These are important operas that deserve to be more than an afterthought on the schedule.

To order tickets for the Metropolitan Opera's 2011-2012 season, visit the box office at Lincoln Center, or buy your seats at MetOpera.Org.
Come in and burn: Deborah Voigt is Brunnhilde in Götterdämmerung.
Photo by Brigitte Lacombe © 2011 The Metropolitan Opera.
2011-2012 Live in HD Schedule:
Anna Bolena: Oct. 15, 2011
Siegfried: Nov. 5, 2011
Satyagraha: Nov. 19, 2011
Rodelinda: Dec. 3, 2011
Faust: Dec. 10, 2011
The Enchanted Island: Jan. 21, 2012
Götterdämmerung: Feb. 11, 2012
Ernani: Feb. 25, 2012
Manon: April 7, 2012
La Traviata: April 14, 2012

Contact the author: E-mail Superconductor editor Paul Pelkonen.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.