O'Brien, the artistic director of San Diego's Old Globe theater, has previously directed two operas: Gershwin's Porgy and Bess for Houston Grand Opera‹a production that has been seen around the country‹and Peter Maxwell Davies' The Lighthouse at the Old Globe.
A frequent director on Broadway, O'Brien has won two Tony Awards in the last two years, winning in 2003 for the musical Hairspray and this year for Henry IV. His Old Globe production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels will move to Broadway in March.
The Met first asked O'Brien to direct Donizetti's Don Pasquale, he told the paper. "I told them it was not for me...there's no way to get a laugh out of that opera," he said. "They acted like they thought I was crazy. Nobody turns down an offer from the Met."
Il trittico is made up of three one-act operas: Il tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi. Only the final third is comic.