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Monday, October 9, 2017

Moscow is Back on the Hudson

The Met and the Bolshoi prepare to make music together.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Going Vegas? Anna Netrebko's new Aida at the Met will be staged by Michael Mayer.
Here, the diva sings in front of the Luxor Hotel thanks to the magic of digital photo alteration.
Image © Luxor Hotel, Las Vegas. Image of Anna Netrebko © Salzburg Festival. Photoshop by Lord Voldemort.

The Metropolitan Opera has locked down its plans for three new productions between 2019 and 2021. The operas in question are Aida, Salome and Lohengrin Finally, these three new productions will be staged in collaboration with the Bolshoi Theater, the Russian-based opera and ballet company that is Moscow's biggest opera house. Each of these three premieres will feature soprano Anna Netrebko in prominent roles: the title role in Aida and Salome and as Elsa in Lohengrin.



At the time of this writing, confirmed dates for these three stagings remain nebulous. (The source for this piece is an article published in the Moscow Times.) What is known is that the Salome and Lohengrin productions will bow first at the Bolshoi, before coming to the New York stage. Aida, on the other hand will be presented at the New York house first before crossing the pond and taking the stage at the historic Bolshoi Opera.

In recent years, Ms. Netrebko has made a push into heavier Verdi repertory, starting with an eye-opening performance as Lady Macbeth in the Verdi adaptation of a certain Shakespeare play. Last month she sang Aida at the Salzburg Festival, and next season opera-goers will flock to the last run of the Met's beloved but shop-worn 1980s staging by director Sonja Frisell to hear the soprano sing that role in New York for the first time.

The new Aida arrives concurrently with new music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Aida is to be staged by Michael Mayer, the Broadway director. Mr. Mayer is a divisive figure among opera-goers. His Met credits include the Vegas-style Rigoletto and an upcoming staging of La Traviata. No word yet on whether the set will be an "Egyptian" Vegas hotel like the Luxor (pictured above.)

Less is known about the new Salome, although one wonders if the cost-conscious Met will allow Ms. Netrebko to go "all the way" in that opera's infamous Dance of the Seven Veils. (Currently, the Met is having some choristers cover up in its production of Les Contes d'Hoffmann, and the Live in HD production of the last Salome prudishly turned the cameras away from the final flash by Finnish soprano Karita Mattila.)

Last of all is the new Lohengrin, an opera absent from the Met stage since 2005. In this show, Ms. Netrebko will take on her first Wagner role at the Met, as Elsa von Brabant, the opera's heroine. Elsa is a maiden beset by dreams of a literal knight in shining armor who rides a swan-drawn boat to her rescue, offers his hand in marriage, but inconveniently orders his new wife to never ask him his name or his origin. Let's hope this new marriage between the Met and the Bolshoi lasts longer than Wagner's ill-fated lovers. 

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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.