The Metropolitan Opera's music director emeritus James Levine will return to the orchestra pit this upcoming season to conduct the company's new production of Tosca. He fills in for the previously reported Andris Nelsons.
The announcement follows previously reported onstage changes. Soprano Sonya Yoncheva will take on the title heroine for the first string of performances, stepping in for Kristine Opolais. Additionally, Vittorio Grigolo is set to sing the role of Cavaradossi, filling in for Jonas Kaufmann, who withdrew from the production in March, citing family obligations.
The Puccini tragedy marked Levine's Metropolitan Opera debut in 1971, when he conducted a June Festival performance. The following year, he was named the Met's music director—a position he held (among others) through the 2015–2016 season. Yannick Nézet-Séguin will officially assume the title in 2020.
The Met's new staging of Tosca, directed by David McVicar, will open in a gala presentation December 31. Yoncheva will sing the role of Tosca for performances through January 27 (with the exception of January 12, where Jennifer Rowley will take center stage). When the production returns for six final performances in April, Anna Netrebko will assume the role.
In the final years of his tenure as music director, Levine withdrew from several conducting engagements following a series of injuries and health battles. In 2013, following a two-year absence, he returned to the podium to conduct Così fan tutte.
Though he has stepped down from the title, he is still scheduled to lead various productions in the upcoming season; in addition to Tosca, Levine intends to conduct Die Zauberflöte, Il Trovatore, Luisa Miller, and the recital presentation of Verdi's Requiem.