The world premiere of Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy, the company premiere of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa, and new productions of Charles Gounod's Roméo et Juliette and Gaetano Donizetti's Don Pasquale are just a few of the highlights of the Metropolitan Opera's 33-week 2005-2006 season.
The world premiere of An American Tragedy, commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera and based on the 1925 novel of the same name by American writer Theodore Dreiser, is on December 2. The libretto is by Gene Scheer. James Conlon conducts, with a cast that includes Patricia Racette, Susan Graham, Nathan Gunn, Dolora Zajick, Jennifer Larmore, Kim Begley, William Burden, and Richard Bernstein. Francesca Zambello directs, with sets designed by Adrianne Lobel in her Met debut, costumes designed by Dunya Ramicova, lighting designed by James F. Ingalls, and choreography by Doug Varone.
Mazeppa receives its company premiere on March 6, 2006, with Nikolai Putilin in the title role and Olga Guryakova as Maria, Larissa Diadkova as Lyubov, Oleg Balashov as Andrei, Paata Burchuladze as Kotschubey, and Valery Gergiev conducting. Making their Met debuts will be the director, Yuri Alexandrov, and the lighting designer, Gleb Filshtinsky. George Tsypin designs the sets and Tatiana Noginova designs the costumes.
The new production of Roméo et Juliette premieres on November 14 with Ramón Vargas and Natalie Dessay in the title roles, Stéphane Degout making his debut as Mercutio, and Kristinn Sigmundsson as Friar Laurent. Bertrand de Billy conducts. The entire production team will be new to the Metropolitan Opera: Guy Joosten, director; Johannes Leiacker, set designer; Jorge Jara, costume designer; David Cunningham, lighting designer; and Sean Curran, choreographer.
Don Pasquale, last heard at the Met during the 1979-1980 season, returns in a new production on March 31, 2006. James Levine conducts, with Simone Alaimo as Don Pasquale, Anna Netrebko as Norina, Juan Diego Flórez as Ernesto, and Mariusz Kwiecien as Dr. Malatesta. The production is by Otto Schenk with sets and costumes designed by Rolf Langenfass‹both returning to the company for their first new production at the Met since the 1992-1993 season (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg).
The 2005-2006 season opens on September 19 with a Gala Performance comprised of Act II of Tosca with Angela Gheorghiu and Bryn Terfel; Act I of Le Nozze di Figaro with Isabel Bayrakdarian, Susan Graham, Dwayne Croft, and Bryn Terfel; and Act III of Samson et Dalila with Denyce Graves and Plácido Domingo. Maestro Levine will be on the podium.
The season closes on May 20, 2006, with A Gala Performance Honoring Joseph Volpe celebrating the long career of the company's general manager, who retires on August 1, 2006. The performance will include tributes from current and past Met artists, as well as solos, duets, and ensembles sung by luminaries of the world's operatic stage.
The season will also include revivals of three of this season's acclaimed new productions: Julie Taymor's imagined staging of Die Zauberflöte, Rodelinda with Renée Fleming reprising the title role, and an extended run of Cyrano de Bergerac with Plácido Domingo as the swashbuckling title character. Among the 21 other operas that complete the season are the perennial favorites of Aida, La Bohème, Carmen, and La Traviata, along with works including Manon, Wozzeck, La Cenerentola, Falstaff, La Forza del Destino, Parsifal, and the Robert Wilson staging of Wagner's Lohengrin, among others. For complete information on the 2005-2006 Metropolitan Opera season, visit the Met website at metopera.org, or call 212-362-6000.