These projects will be the third and fourth collaborations between the two companies. The first was Minghella's staging of Madama Butterfly, which was an enormous success for ENO in 2005 and which Peter Gelb brought to the Met last fall to inaugurate his tenure as the company's general manager. The second joint project is Philip Glass's Satyagraha, which played at ENO in April of this year and opens at the Met in April of next year. That staging is by director by Phelim McDermott and designer Julian Crouch of the London theater company Improbable, best known in New York for its musical theater version of the children's grotesque Shockheaded Peter.
The Golijov/Minghella commission brings together one of America's hottest composers, whose wildly acclaimed Pasi‹n seg‹n San Marcos is a centerpiece of this year's Mostly Mozart Festival (which Golijov co-curated), and the Academy Award-winning writer and director of such films as Truly Madly Deeply, The English Patient, Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr. Ripley. The new work will be developed in workshop productions at ENO, with a full-scale world premiere there tentatively planned for 2010 and a U.S. premiere expected at the Met in 2011-12.
The Met's original plan for Doctor Atomic, announced in late 2005, was to import from San Francisco Opera the world premiere production by director and librettist Peter Sellars. (That staging will be presented by Lyric Opera of Chicago beginning this December.)
However, said Gelb in a statement released today, "I believe that this monumental work by John Adams is of such merit that it deserves a production created uniquely for our two stages." At the helm of that new staging will be Penny Woolcock, a British television director and documentarian who made the award-winning film version of Adams's The Death of Klinghoffer for the U.K.'s Channel Four television in 2003. (This will be her first live opera project.) Set design will be by Julian Crouch, who did the scenery for the ENO-Met Satyagraha; designing the costumes will be Catherine Zuber, who made her Met debut this past season with Bartlett Sher's staging of The Barber of Seville.
Starring as Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer (the "Doctor Atomic" of the title) in both London and New York will be baritone Gerald Finley, who created the role in San Francisco, reprised it for the opera's European premiere in Amsterdam last month, and will repeat it in Chicago next year. Conducting the work at ENO will be Lawrence Renes, who is currently on the podium for the U.S. premiere of Tan Dun's opera Tea in Santa Fe; conducting at the Met, in his company debut, will be Alan Gilbert, recently named the next music director of the New York Philharmonic.