Zubin Mehta conducted the Palau's new orchestra — which met for the first time only in September — in its first opera performance; the starry cast in Pier' Alli's traditional staging included Waltraud Meier in the title role, Matti Salminen as Rocco, Juha Uusitalo as Don Pizarro and Peter Seiffert as Florestan.
Palau superintendent Helga Schmidt — who previously served as artistic director of the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden) in London — has secured the services of Lorin Maazel as music director and Zubin Mehta as director of the annual Festival del Mediterršneo, plus a number of notable soloists for the 2006-07 season.
The lineup includes solo recitals by tenor Juan Diego Fl‹rez, soprano Barbara Frittoli and pianist Daniel Barenboim, plus an evening of Shostakovich songs with pianist Larissa Gergieva and soloists from the Mariinsky Theater, and a lieder recital with several cast members (including Meier and Seiffert) from the current Fidelio.
Zubin Mehta will conduct the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana in concerts featuring Mahler's Symphony No. 2 and Sibelius's Violin Concerto with Leonidas Kavakos as soloist. Keri-Lynn Wilson will direct the orchestra in opera excerpts sung by the husband-and-wife team of mezzo Olga Borodina and bass Ildar Abdrazakov.
Maxim Shostakovich will conduct the orchestra in his father's Symphony No. 5 and the Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Orchestra.
The operatic lineup includes La Bohme, conducted by New York Philharmonic Associate Conductor Xian Zhang and staged by Pierre Audi; a new Don Giovanni staged by Jonathan Miller and conducted by Lorin Maazel with Erwin Schrott in the title role and Frittoli as Donna Anna; Philip Glass's La Belle et la Bête, based on Jean Cocteau's film, in a staging from the National Theater of Prague; Ruperto Chapi's zarzuela opera La Bruja; Francesca Zambello's staging of Cyrano de Bergerac, led by Marco Armiliato, with Plšcido Domingo in the title role and Sondra Radvanovsky as Roxanne; Wagner's Das Rheingold and Die Walk‹re, staged by the Barcelona theater troupe La Fura dels Baus; and a new production of Simon Boccanegra directed by Llu‹s Pasqual and conducted by Maazel.
Writing in the International Herald Tribune after the opening of the new season, George Loomis opined that the Palau, the riverside opera house/concert hall designed by Santiago Calatrava as the final building in his Ciutat de les Arts i las Ciencias complex (which also includes an aquarium and a science museum), "can call to mind a surrealistic ocean liner or even a gargantuan prehistoric creature cast in stone."
"Strolling along one of the outdoor balconies on a balmy night almost suggests being onboard a ship," he adds, "and nautical illusions continue with the deep blue ceramic walls and cream color tiers of seats, like the decks of a ship, inside the 1,700-seat theater for opera." The theater has quite satisfactory acoustics as well, according to several reports.