For such a wide range of material, one needs an exceptionally versatile stage director. And the Met got one of the best — Jack O'Brien. He's comfortable with Shakespeare (he's artistic director of the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, and one of his Tony Awards is for Henry IV), high-spirited Broadway musicals (The Full Monty and Hairspray, for which he won his other Tony), and cerebral drama (he just finished directing the other high-profile trilogy now running in New York, Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia at Lincoln Center Theater). He's no stranger to opera, either: his most famous outing in the genre is Houston Grand Opera's Porgy and Bess, which was presented around the U.S. for the next decade and completely remade the work's reputation.
To work with O'Brien, the Met's casting department has lined up quite an array of singing and acting talent. In Tabarro, baritone Juan Pons* is the grizzled bargeman Michele, soprano Maria Guleghina is his frustrated wife Giorgetta, and tenor Salvatore Licitra plays her ill-fated lover Luigi. Barbara Frittoli is the tormented nun in Suor Angelica, with Heidi Grant Murphy as her young cohort Sister Genovieffa. In Gianni Schicchi, baritone and comedic genius Alessandro Corbelli plays the very clever title character, with promising young singers Olga Mykytenko and Massimo Giordano as the lovers Lauretta and Rinuccio. Mezzo extraordinaire Stephanie Blythe appears in all three works — in the latter two as someone's aunt. And on the podium is the Met's music director, James Levine.
* UPDATE: This evening, for opening night, Frederick Burchinal will replace Pons, who is ill.
There are eight performances of Il trittico at the Metropolitan Opera House from tonight through May 12. This evening's performance will be available in free streaming audio at the Met's website (www.metopera.org); the April 28 Saturday matinee will be simulcast live, in high-definition video and audio, into selected movie theaters in North America, Europe and Japan. (For locations and times, go to metopera.org and click on the "Live in HD" box near the bottom of the screen.)
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All photos by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.