Seven new productions, including two company premieres and the first two parts of a new Ring cycle, featuring many of the world’s greatest singers and conductors, will highlight the Metropolitan Opera’s 2010-11 season. General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine announced plans for the Met premieres of John Adams’s Nixon in China and Rossini’s Le Comte Ory, the first two installments of Robert Lepage’s new production of Wagner’s epic Der Ring des Nibelungen, with stagings of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, and new productions of three repertory classics by debuting directors—Boris Godunov by Peter Stein, Don Carlo by Nicholas Hytner, and La Traviata by Willy Decker. With Nixon in China, Peter Sellars will also make his Met directorial debut, and Bartlett Sher, director of Le Comte Ory, will return for his third production here following his recent successful stagings of Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Les Contes d’Hoffmann.
In his 40th anniversary season, Maestro Levine, who has conducted nearly 2,500 performances at the Met, more than any conductor in the company’s 126-year history, will conduct six operas across a range of repertory. The Met will celebrate the music director’s extraordinary, record-breaking Met career with historical DVD and CD releases of his performances, as well as a new documentary film about the maestro by award-winning director Susan Froemke. Levine will launch the 2010-11 season on Monday, September 27, 2010, with a gala performance of Das Rheingold. The first installment of the new Ring cycle by Robert Lepage, the opera will star Bryn Terfel in his first appearance as Wotan in the U.S. and Stephanie Blythe as Fricka. The new staging of Die Walküre will open on April 22, 2011, with Levine conducting a cast that includes Deborah Voigt in her first Met Brünnhilde, Eva-Maria Westbroek in her company debut as Sieglinde, Blythe as Fricka, Jonas Kaufmann in his first Siegmund at the Met, and Terfel as Wotan. Levine will also lead revivals of Don Pasquale, Il Trovatore, Simon Boccanegra, and Wozzeck. On the actual date of his anniversary, June 5, he will conduct Don Carlo with the company on tour in Japan.
Acclaimed German director Peter Stein will make his Met debut with a new production of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, opening October 11, conducted by Valery Gergiev. René Pape will sing the monumental title role for the first time at the Met. Verdi’s Don Carlo will premiere on November 22 in a new production by Nicholas Hytner, artistic director of London’s National Theatre, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The co-production, which opened at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, in 2008, will star Roberto Alagna in the title role, Marina Poplavskaya as Elisabeth de Valois, Simon Keenlyside as Rodrigo, and Ferruccio Furlanetto as King Philip. The new La Traviata will premiere at a New Year’s Eve gala performance of Willy Decker’s hit production from the 2005 Salzburg Festival that has been modified and rebuilt for the Met, with Marina Poplavskaya as Violetta and Matthew Polenzani as Alfredo; Gianandrea Noseda conducts.
Celebrated composer John Adams will make his Met debut on the podium on February 2, conducting the Met premiere of his 1987 opera Nixon in China, in a production by Peter Sellars from the English National Opera. Rossini’s rarely heard comic opera Le Comte Ory will have its Met premiere on March 24, featuring Juan Diego Flórez in the title role, Diana Damrau as Countess Adèle, and Joyce DiDonato as Isolier, in Bartlett Sher’s new production.
Gelb said, “Maestro Levine’s 40th anniversary and the beginning of a new Ring cycle, both extraordinary events in the life of this great company, will inspire us to artistic heights and hopefully stimulate the public to fill our seats.”
Levine said, “After forty years of working with this great company, I am still excited by the prospect of a new season that introduces new repertory, new artists, and new challenges. And I couldn’t ask for a better way to celebrate my anniversary than beginning a new Ring cycle.”
The Met’s conducting roster will feature a number of notable debut artists in the 2010-11 season, including Simon Rattle, who leads Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, and William Christie, who conducts Mozart’s Così fan tutte. Roberto Rizzi Brignoli, Edward Gardner, Patrick Fournillier, Erik Nielsen, and Paolo Arrivabeni also make their Met debuts leading important revivals during the season. Maestros returning to conduct revivals will include: Marco Armiliato, Andrew Davis, Plácido Domingo, Riccardo Frizza, Fabio Luisi, Nicola Luisotti, Andris Nelsons, and Patrick Summers.
Highly acclaimed recent portrayals by some of the Met’s most popular stars will be reprised this season. Star soprano Renée Fleming performs the virtuoso title role of Rossini’s Armida, then switches gears to sing the Countess in Richard Strauss’s Capriccio (her first complete account of the role, though she sang the final scene at the Opening Night Gala in 2008). Susan Graham returns to the title role of Iphigénie en Tauride with Plácido Domingo repeating his noble Oreste. Natalie Dessay once again offers her brilliant portrayal of the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor, and Elīna Garanča gives the audience another chance to witness her magnetic Carmen. Anna Netrebko reprises her tour-de-force Norina in Don Pasquale, and Karita Mattila takes the stage as Lisa in The Queen of Spades, a role she has not sung here since 1995. Angela Gheorghiu comes back for Gounod’s Juliette for the first time since 1998, and Marcelo Álvarez again sings the title role in Il Trovatore.
Many of the world’s most prominent singers will be taking on roles they have never sung at the Met before, including Piotr Beczała as Roméo, Joseph Calleja as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Danielle de Niese as Despina in Così fan tutte, Joyce DiDonato as the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Giuseppe Filianoti in the title role of Les Contes d’Hoffmann, opposite Olga Borodina as Giulietta and Ildar Abdrazakov as the Four Villains. Also in Met role debuts, Dmitri Hvorostovsky will sing the title role and Barbara Frittoli is Amelia in Simon Boccanegra, Magdalena Kožená is Mélisande, Peter Mattei is Yeletsky and Dolora Zajick is the Countess in The Queen of Spades. Patricia Racette sings Leonora in Il Trovatore, Sondra Radvanovsky and Violeta Urmana share the title role of Tosca, Deborah Voigt sings the title role and Marcello Giordani is Dick Johnson in La Fanciulla del West, and Waltraud Meier is Marie and Matthias Goerne is the title role in Wozzeck.
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The Met: Live in HD 2010-11 Series
The 2010-11 season of The Met: Live in HD will feature 11 transmissions, beginning on October 9 with Das Rheingold and continuing with Boris Godunov (October 23), Don Pasquale (November 13), Don Carlo (December 11), La Fanciulla del West (January 8), Iphigénie en Tauride (February 26), Lucia di Lammermoor (March 19), Le Comte Ory (April 9), Capriccio (April 23), Il Trovatore (April 30), and Die Walküre (May 14).
The company’s enormously successful, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning series of live transmissions into movie theaters in 44 countries and more than 1000 theaters around the world has sold more than 1.8 million tickets so far during the 2009-10 season. With two transmissions remaining in the fourth season of the popular series (Hamlet on March 27 and Armida on May 1) attendance is expected to exceed two million, effectively tripling the Met’s paying audience (approximately 800,000 people attend performances in the opera house in a Met season).