Support independent arts journalism by joining our Patreon! Currently $5/month.

About Superconductor

Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Season Preview: 2019-2020 The Year of Not Living Dangerously

The Metropolitan Opera unveils next season.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
"...and that escalator to nowhere." Anthony Roth Costanzo climbs the stairs of destiny
in the Met's upcoming first presentation of the Philip Glass opera Akhnaten.
Photo from the Los Angeles Opera used by permission of the Met press office © 2019 The Metropolitan Opera.
The Metropolitan Opera revealed its new schedule at 1pm today, confirming a lot of what was already known about next year.  The two remaining shows by Franco Zeffirelli (Turandot and La bohéme return. Also, this is the first time in years that the company is mounting revivals of operas by Tchaikovsky (The Queen of Spadesand Janacek (Kat'a Kabanova) alongside its usual French, Italian and German fare.

And Then There Were Five
There are just five new productions, and this year is the first time in a decade that the company will not unveil one of them on New Year's Eve. (More on that below) The season leads off on Sept. 23 (earlier than usual) with a new staging of Porgy and Bess, starring Eric Owens and Angel Blue in the leading roles. Nov. 8 sees the long-overdue Met premiere of Akhnaten, the third opera by Philip Glass. This production by Phelim McDermott stars Anthony Roth Costanzo as the pharoah who tried (and failed) to bring monotheism to Ancient Egypt. It is the only "modern" offering this season.

Sex. Murder. Art.
The South African artist William Kentridge has become a critical and audience favorite with his stagings of The Nose and Lulu in the last decade. He returns with Wozzeck, Alban Berg's atonal thrill-ride through the tormented conscience of an Austrian army private. The last two shows are the Handel opera Agrippina, (Feb. 6) a wicked political satire centering around the conniving mother of Emperor Nero, and Der fliegende Holländer, Wagner's tale of a cursed ship's captain (Sir Bryn Terfel) who, try as he might cannot reach port. It sails onto the stage on March 2 with Valery Gergiev at the tiller

What are they doing New Year's Eve?
This year the Met  is returning to the old (pre-Peter Gelb) gala format. They're offering those willing to pay the (doubled) ticket prices a chance to see Anna Netrebko sing single acts from three different Puccini operas. Ms. N. will sing Act I of La bohéme opposite Matthew Polenzani. She will then sing Act I of Tosca and Act II of Turandot with her husband, tenor Yusif Eyvazov. (For those of you who have wanted to hear her take on this challenging role, this is your first chance.) Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts.

If you want to see Anna Netrebko but not pay gala prices (who does?) the soprano will be singing the role of Lady Macbeth in Verdi's Scottish opera. (Placído Domingo continues his tour of Verdi baritone roles in the title part. Later performances will be sung by the sturdy Željko Lučić.) She is also slotted to reprise her Tosca, not only in the New Year's Gala but also in a run starting March 26.)

Further highlights  of the generale include a chance to see both Manon (by Massenet) and Manon Lescaut (by Puccini) two very different takes on the story of a nice French girl who gets sidetracked into love and a life of debauchery. They appear at opposite ends of the schedule. Other operas of interest this season include Verdi's Simon Boccanegra (with Carlos Álvarez in the title role), the Robert Carsen staging of Der Rosenkavalier (with Sir Simon Rattle returning to the Met podium) and the return of Maria Stuarda with Diana Damrau in the title role. This season also brings back Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice (by Mark Morris) and Berlioz' La damnation de Faust (by Robert Lepage.) Each of these tests the Met's ability to deliver spectacle to the absolute limit.

Here's the list of productions, with new stagings first, in chronological order. Live in HD broadcasts are noted where applicable. All comments by me.

New Productions:

Porgy and Bess by George and Ira Gershwin
An all-star cast in this long overdue new production of the Gershwins' "folk opera."
(opening night, Sept. 23, Sept. 27, 30, Oct 5 mat, 10, 13 mat, 16
Jan 8, 11, 15, 18, 24, 28, Feb 1 mat)
(Live in HD presentation Feb. 1)

Akhnaten by Philip Glass
Anthony Roth Costanzo stars as the Pharaoh who thought he was a God...the one true God.
(opens Nov 8, 12, 15, 19, 23 mat, 30, Dec 4, 7 mat)
(Live in HD presentation Nov. 23)

Wozzeck by Alban Berg
A searing drama of life in the military in a hallucinatory staging by William Kentridge.
(opens Dec. 27, Jan. 2, 7, 11 (matinee), 16, 19 (matinee), 22)
(Live in HD presentation Jan. 11)

Agrippina by Georg Friedrich Handel
Joyce DiDonato stars as the conniving mother of Nero in this wild take on Roman history. A Metropolitan Opera premiere.
(opens Feb. 6, 9, 13, 17, 25, 29 (matinee) March 3, 7)
(Live in HD presentation Feb. 29)

Der fliegende Holländer
François Girard's second Wagner production for the Met, with the return of Sir Bryn Tervel as the loneliest sea captain in history.
(opens March 2, 6, 10, 14 (matinee) 18, 21, 24, 27)
(Live in HD presentation March 14)


Manon by Jules Massenet
A young girl sidetracked into a life of debauchery. Lisette Oropesa and Michael Fabiano star.
(opens Sept. 24, 28 (matinee), Oct 2, 5, 19, 22, 26 (matinee))
(Live in HD presentation Oct. 26)

Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi
(opens Sept. 25, 28, Oct 1, 4, 8, 12)
Placido Domingo sings the (baritone) title role, opposite the spitfire Lady Mac of Anna Netrebko. Later performances feature Zeljko Lučić and Anna Pirozzi in her house debut.

Turandot by Giacomo Puccini
Two Isoldes (Christine Goerke and Nina Stemme) star in Puccini's fairy tale, in which a proposition of marriage has deadly consequences.
(opens Oct. 3, 6 (matinee), 9, 12 (matinee), 19 (matinee), 23, 26, 31
Apr 9, 13, 17, 21, 25 (matinee))
(Live in HD presentation Oct. 12)

Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini
Sopranos Hui He and Ana María Martínez feature in the title role. The November performances feature Placido Domingo as Sharpless.
(opens Oct 11, 15, 18,
Nov 2 mat, 6, 9 mat, 13, 16, 22, 25,
Apr 1, 4, 7, 11)
(Live in HD presentation Nov. 9)

Orfeo ed Euridice by Christoph Willibald Gluck
Jamie Barton returns to the Met stage in the title role of Gluck's opera in a gorgeous staging by Mark Morris.
(opens Oct 20 (matinee), 24, 29, Nov 1, 4, 7, 10 (matinee))

La bohéme by Giacomo Puccini
The big star here is Franco Zeffirelli's stage-filling picture sets. Ailyn Perez, Jennifer Rowley and Roberto Alagna are all in the cast, though not at the same time.
(opens Oct 25, 30, Nov 2, 5, 9, 14, 17 (matinee), 21
Jan 9, 12 (matinee), 17, 21, 25
Apr 29, May 2, 7)

Le nozze di Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Mozart's madcap domestic comedy has even more resonance in this modern gilded age.
(opens Nov. 16 (matinee), 20, 23, 26, 30 (matinee), Dec 3, 7, 11, 14,
Feb 5, 8, 11, 14, 19, 22 (matinee))

The Queen of Spades by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Tchaikovsky's opera returns after an over-long absence. A tale of young love destroyed by a gambling obsession, with a harrowing finish.
(opens Nov. 29 Dec. 2, 5, 8 (matinee), 14 (matinee), 18, 21)

Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss
The greatest operatic comedy of the 20th century returns in a handsome staging that moves the action to Austria on the verge of being sucked into World War One.
(opens Dec. 13, 17, 20, 23, 28, Jan 1, 4 (matinee))

The Magic Flute (short version)  by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
A "family-friendly" one-act edit of Mozart's final opera, in its stunning staging by Julie Taymor. (opens Dec. 15 (matinee), 19, 21 (matinee), 24, 26 (matinee), 28 (matinee), Jan 2 (matinee), 3, 4)

New Year's Eve Gala with Anna Netrebko (music by Giacomo Puccini)
A single act each of La bohéme (Act I) Tosca (Act II) and Turandot (Act II) each starring Anna Netrebko. (Dec. 31, 2019)

La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi
Michael Mayer's jewel-toned version of the Verdi tragedy makes Violetta (Alessandra Kurzak or Lisette Oropesa) into a princess.
(opens Jan. 10, 14, 18 (matinee) 23, 26 (matinee) 31, Feb 3, 7, 26, 29, Mar 5, 9, 13, 19)

La Damnation de Faust by Hector Berlioz
Not quite an opera, not quite an oratorio but thrillingly presented by Robert Lepage, this is a high-flying version of Berlioz' masterpiece.
(opens Jan. 25 (matinee), 29, Feb 1, 4, 8 (matinee), 12, 15)

Cosí fan tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
The Mozart comedy of couple-swapping, given an incongruous setting as a Coney Island sideshow.
(opens Feb. 15 (matinee) 18, 21, 23 (matinee), 27, Mar 4, 7 (matinee), 11, 14)

La Cenerentola by Giaochino Rossini
A delicious retelling of the classic fairy tale in a staging that is part Magritte, part Marx Brothers.
(opens March 12, 17, 21 mat, 25, 28, Apr 3)

Werther by Jules Massenet
Based on Goethe's tragedy, the story of a young, lovesick poet with too much time on his hands. Piotr Beczala and Joyce DiDonato star.
(opens March 16, 20, 23, 28 (matinee), 31, Apr 4 (matinee))

Tosca by Giacomo Puccini
Anna Netrebko stars as the ultimate diva (there's a stretch) in Puccini's melodrama. The later performances have Jennifer Rowley.(opens March 26, 29 (matinee), Apr 2, 5 (matinee), 11 (matinee), 15, 18)
(Live in HD presentation April 11)

Diana Damrau in recital (March 29)

Simon Boccanegra by Giuseppe Verdi
Carlos Alvarez returns to sing the title role in this stunning production of Verdi's political drama. (opens Apr 10, 14, 18 (matinee), 22, 25)

Maria Stuarda by Gaetano Donizetti
"Bring me the head of Diana Damrau!" That's what may be said following this revival of the Donizetti classic. (opens April 1)
(Live in HD presentation May 9)

Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini
Sonya Yoncheva stars in the other version of the Manon story. This one is in Italian.
(opens April 28, May 1, 5, 8)

Káťa Kabanová by Leoš Janáček
The Jonathan Miller production returns, in the end-of-year ghetto that the Met reserves for interesting modern operas. (opens May 2 (matinee) May 6, 9)

If you enjoyed this article, it's time to click over to Superconductor's Patreon page, and help support the cost of independent music journalism in New York City at the low cost of just $5/month.

Trending on Superconductor


Share My Blog!

Share |

Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats