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Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, since 2007. All written content © 2014 by Paul Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Metropolitan Opera Announces 2012-2013 Season

This is last year's post. For the Met 2013-2014 Season visit this link.

A slate of seven new productions--and no Strauss.
by Paul Pelkonen.

(Ed. update: Full details of the coming season are available at the Metropolitan Opera Season Preview.)

Caesar (David Daniels, l.) woos Cleopatra (Natalie Dessay) in Giulio Cesare. Photo © 2005 the Glyndebourne Festival.
The 2012-2013 Metropolitan Opera season is being released today in an online presentation. This is what is known in the industry as a "news dump." No fanfare, press conference, speeches or free lunch for us hard-working members of the gutter press. Besides, this preview is going up while I'm heading to Carnegie Hall to see the Berlin Philharmonic. 

Having a cybernetic season announcement is an attempt to create viral Internet buzz on hip, irony-laden opera publications (like this one) or our good friends over at Parterre Box. The schedule leaked on that site last week. Maybe the company is running short on those little sandwiches and panini that they serve at intermission.

Anna Netrebko opens the season in L'Elisir d'Amore.
Photo by Nick Heavican © 2012 The Metropolitan Opera.
Another possibility: General Manager Peter Gelb is experimenting with William Gibson's concept of "anti-marketing", releasing the schedule in the worst possible way to create the maximum amount of Twitter/Tumblr traffic over the weekend. And maybe then he'll fly to London in search of a bespoke denim jacket.

It's also possible that doing the season announcement this way was the Met's way of hoping that no-one would notice their DRACONIAN NEW SUBSCRIPTION POLICIES. Read more about them here.

Looking at the slate of 28 operas, counting Der Ring des Nibelungen and this year's "family" (English-language, edited) version of The Barber of Seville, the reason might just be that this year's schedule isn't all that exciting. 

Oh, well. Here's the list. And here's the season brochure.

New Productions:
The Met offers SEVEN new productions this year.

The season opens with the Sept. 24 premiere of Bartlett Sher's L'Elisir d'Amore. This is the Broadway director's fourth show to premiere during the Gelb administration. Mr. Sher's version of the opera will star Anna Netrebko as Adina and Matthew Polenzani as the smitten Nemorino. No word on whether the smashed pumpkins of The Barber of Seville will be matched by an onstage grape-stomping.

Tattooed love god: Simon Keenlyside is Prospero in The Tempest.
Photo by Anne Deniau © 2012 The Metropolitan Opera.
On Oct. 23 the Met returns to the...ahem...enchanted island with The Tempest by British composer Thomas Adès. The good news: this will have more to do with Shakespeare than last season's baroque confection. Simon Keenlyside takes the role of Prospero and the fabulous Isabel Leonard is Miranda. The bad: the staging is by Robert Lepage, who (at six operas) has now done more works onstage at the Met than Mr. Sher. Word is that "the machine" will not be involved.

Nov. 8 is the opening of the company's new Un Ballo in Maschera which moves the action of Verdi's Swedish court drama back to Boston, Massachusetts (as per the censors' direction at the opera's premiere in 1859.) The production is by modernist/revisionist David Alden (whose twin brother Christopher is directing the City Opera's ongoing cycle of Mozart/da Ponte operas.) We expect the assassination to take place in Boston's Public Garden following the Patriots' second Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. Or something. More details to come.

On New Year's Eve, the Met unveils its new staging of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda by David McVicar, with the mighty Joyce DiDonato as Mary, Queen of Scots. This is the Met's second installment of Donizetti's "Three Queens" trilogy, which is like the Ring Cycle with better arias and more decapitations. Anna Bolena was staged last year. Roberto Devereux is planned, but I'm not supposed to tell you that.

Anti-fashioni: Jonas Kaufmann in Parsifal.
Photo © 2012 The Metropolitan Opera.
Following the negative reception of Luc Bondy's 2009 Tosca, Mr. Gelb reversed his decision to import the French director's critically derided version of Verdi's Rigoletto from Vienna. Instead, the new Rigoletto (bowing Jan. 28, 2013) will be directed by Broadway baby Michael Mayer, whose resume includes shows like Spring Awakening and the current NBC TV series Smash. (He also made a direct-to-video film of My Friend Flicka, which did not star Frederica von Stade.) Željko Lucic stars as the troubled jester, with Diana Damrau as Gilda.

Otto Schenk's Wagner productions continue to bite the dust. The Met replaces the transforming trees and boing-ing flowers with François Giraud's Opera de Lyon production of Parsifal, premiering Feb. 15, 2013. The good news is that Jonas Kaufmann will sing the title role. The bad: advertising images from that French company have included a river of blood, so expect some sort of grim, post-Apocalyptic version of the Grail legend. We'll know more after the Lyonnaise staging takes the boards on March 6 of this year.

The last new production of the season is a new version of Handel's Giulio Cesare with super-countertenor David Daniels singing the title role opposite the Cleopatra of soprano Natalie Dessay. The production is imported from the Glyndebourne Festival. Directed by Mr. McVicar, with sets by Richard Jones. It opens April 4, 2013.

Living on a prayer: Joyce DiDonato in Maria Stuarda.
Photo by Brigitte Lacombe © 2012 The Metropolitan Opera.
Here's the regular season,  (what we opera types call the generale) in order of premiere. Two dates indicate different runs with different casts for each. More details to follow in the Superconductor 2012-2013 Metropolitan Opera Preview, currently on sale at a Borders™ bookstore near you.

Turandot opens Sept. 26, with runs in Oct., Nov. and Jan. 2013.
Carmen, opens Sept. 28; Second run opens Feb. 9.
Il Trovatore, opens Sept. 29; Second run opens Jan. 9.
Otello opens Oct. 9; Second run (Domingo conducting) opens March 11. 
Le Nozze di Figaro, opens Oct. 29.
La Clemenza di Tito, opens Nov. 16.
Aida, opens Nov. 23.
Don Giovanni, opens Nov. 28.
Les Troyens, opens  Dec. 13.
La Rondine, opens  Jan. 11.
Le comte Ory, opens Jan. 17.
Don Carlo, opens Feb. 22
Francesca di Rimini, March 4
La Traviata, March 14, (with Diana Damrau.)
Faust, opens March 21.
Les Dialogues des Carmélites, opens May 4.

Holiday Offering: 
The Met offers an annual opera aimed at parents and kids. To their credit, this is the best opera to get youngsters started on a lifetime of loving the genre.
The Barber of Seville (shortened and in English), opens Dec 18. 

Der Ring des Nibelungen
The Met will be mounting three complete Ring cycles in 2013. For a breakdown of the company's new multi-million-dollar version of Wagner's epic, visit this link.

Das Rheingold, April 6
Die Walküre, April 13
Siegfried, April 20
Götterdämmerung, April 23
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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.