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Monday, September 26, 2011

Opening Night: Some Heads Are Gonna Roll

The axe used to execute Anne Boleyn in 1536.
Tonight's Anna Bolena opens the 2011-2012 Met Season.

Conductors have been booked, singers have been confirmed, and after a dramatic off-season filled with cancellations, heavy union negotiations, and a whirlwind of drama surrounding music director James Levine, the Metropolitan Opera opens its doors tonight.

The 2011-2012 season starts with the 6pm gala premiere of Donizetti's Anna Bolena. (Curtain time is 6:30.) Anna Netrebko puts her head on the block in the title role. The supporting cast includes Ildar Abdrazakov as Henry VIII and Stephen Costello as Percy.

The opera will be transmitted as a live broadcast in Lincoln Center Plaza (for an audience of 1,000 people) and to Times Square. 2,000 seats are available, first-come, first- served.

But fear not opera lovers, the Met will also carry this opening Anna as a live-stream telecast on the Met's Listen Live site.

Starting tomorrow, the Met season rolls forward with an exciting slate of 26 operas. Five of these are new productions. Here they are:
  • Don Giovanni (The new staging of Mozart's dramma giacoso) Oct 14.)
  • Siegfried (Oct. 27, part III of The Ring).
  • Faust (Nov. 29, with Jonas Kaufmann)
  • The Enchanted Island (Dec. 31. The Met's first pastiche, starring David Daniels and Joyce DiDonato)
  • Götterdämmerung (Jan. 27, 2012, the conclusion of the new Ring Cycle)
  • Manon (March 29, 2012) starring (once again) Anna Netrebko).

The slate of revivals for this year includes Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, and three full cycles of the new Robert Lepage staging of Wagner's Ring.

For non-Wagnerians, the schedule includes:

  • Nabucco (opens Sept. 27 with Zdneko Lucic in the title role.)
  • Il Barbiere di Siviglia, (Bart Sher's madcap staging.)
  • Satyagraha (Philip Glass' version of the life of Gandhi, sung in Sanskrit)
  • Rodelinda (A Handel opera, starring Renée Fleming.)
  • La bohéme (The Zeffirelli classic,still packing 'em in.)
  • Madama Butterfly (Anthony Minghella's striking production.) 
  • La Fille du régiment (Donizetti's bel canto comic confection.)
  • Hansel and Gretel (featuring Robert Brubaker as the Witch.) 
  • Tosca (Luc Bondy's much-reviled, much-revised 2009 staging.) 
  • Ernani (starring Marcelo Giordani as Verdi's bandit chief.)
  • Aida (Verdi's Egyptian business, a testament to '80s excess.)  
  • Khovanshchina (Mussorgsky's political opera for these troubled times.)
  • L'Elisir d'amore (reuniting Juan Diego Flórez with Diana Damrau.) 
  • Macbeth (Verdi's take on the Scottish play starring Thomas Hampson.)
  • La Traviata (Natalie Dessay dons the little red dress.) 
  • The Makropoulos Case (Karita Mattila makes a bid for immortality.)
  • Billy Budd (with Nathan Gunn manning the topsail.)

(Whew!)

Consult the Superconductor Metropolitan Opera Season Preview, your guide to what's on, who's singing, and which recordings to pick up if you're building a collection. Each opera has its own page, so just click on the titles or search the site for the opera you're planning on attending.

Going to the Met for the first time? Then our Metropolitan Opera User's Guide is the article for you--some basic tips and tricks on dress code, opera etiquette and getting to the house on time.
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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.