Fresh Rheingold, Nixon and Comte Ory Among 2010-11 Met Offerings

Classic Arts Features   Fresh Rheingold, Nixon and Comte Ory Among 2010-11 Met Offerings
The Met has unveiled its 2010-11 season, which will boast seven new productions, including two company premieres and the first two parts of a new Ring cycle.


General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine announced plans for the Met premieres of John Adams's Nixon in China and Rossini's Le Comte Ory, the first two installments of Robert Lepage's new production of Wagner's epic Der Ring des Nibelungen, with stagings of Das Rheingold and Die Walk‹re, and new productions of three repertory classics by debuting directors: Boris Godunov by Peter Stein, Don Carlo by Nicholas Hytner, and La Traviata by Willy Decker. With Nixon in China, Peter Sellars will also make his Met directorial debut, and Bartlett Sher, director of Le Comte Ory, will return for his third production here following his recent successful stagings of Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Les Contes d'Hoffmann.

In his 40th anniversary season, Maestro Levine, who has conducted nearly 2,500 performances at the Met, more than any conductor in the company's 126-year history, will conduct six operas across a range of repertory. The Met will celebrate the music director's extraordinary, record-breaking Met career with historical DVD and CD releases of his performances, as well as a new documentary film about the maestro by award-winning director Susan Froemke.

Levine will launch the 2010-11 season on Monday, September 27, 2010, with a gala performance of Das Rheingold. The first installment of the new Ring cycle by Robert Lepage, the opera will star Bryn Terfel in his first appearance as Wotan in the U.S. and Stephanie Blythe as Fricka. The new staging of Die Walk‹re will open on April 22, 2011, with Levine conducting a cast that includes Deborah Voigt in her first Met Br‹nnhilde, Eva-Maria Westbroek in her company debut as Sieglinde, Blythe as Fricka, Jonas Kaufmann in his first Siegmund at the Met, and Terfel as Wotan. Levine will also lead revivals of Don Pasquale, Il Trovatore, Simon Boccanegra, and Wozzeck. On the actual date of his anniversary, June 5, he will conduct Don Carlo with the company on tour in Japan.

Acclaimed German director Peter Stein will make his Met debut with a new production of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, opening October 11, conducted by Valery Gergiev. Ren_ Pape will sing the monumental title role for the first time at the Met. Verdi's Don Carlo will premiere on November 22 in a new production by Nicholas Hytner, artistic director of London's National Theatre, conducted by Yannick N_zet-S_guin. The co-production, which opened at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, in 2008, will star Roberto Alagna in the title role, Marina Poplavskaya as Elisabeth de Valois, Simon Keenlyside as Rodrigo, and Ferruccio Furlanetto as King Philip. The new La Traviata will premiere at a New Year's Eve gala performance of Willy Decker's hit production from the 2005 Salzburg Festival that has been modified and rebuilt for the Met, with Marina Poplavskaya as Violetta and Matthew Polenzani as Alfredo; Gianandrea Noseda conducts.

Celebrated composer John Adams will make his Met debut on the podium on February 2, conducting the Met premiere of his 1987 opera Nixon in China, in a production by Peter Sellars from the English National Opera. Rossini's rarely heard comic opera Le Comte Ory will have its Met premiere on March 24, featuring Juan Diego Fl‹rez in the title role, Diana Damrau as Countess Adle, and Joyce DiDonato as Isolier, in Bartlett Sher's new production.

Gelb said, "Maestro Levine's 40th anniversary and the beginning of a new Ring cycle, both extraordinary events in the life of this great company, will inspire us to artistic heights and hopefully stimulate the public to fill our seats."

Levine said, "After forty years of working with this great company, I am still excited by the prospect of a new season that introduces new repertory, new artists, and new challenges. And I couldn't ask for a better way to celebrate my anniversary than beginning a new Ring cycle."

The Met's conducting roster will feature a number of notable debut artists in the 2010-11 season, including Simon Rattle, who leads Debussy's Pell_as et M_lisande, and William Christie, who conducts Mozart's CosÐ fan tutte. Roberto Rizzi Brignoli, Edward Gardner, Patrick Fournillier, Erik Nielsen, and Paolo Arrivabeni also make their Met debuts leading important revivals during the season. Maestros returning to conduct revivals will include: Marco Armiliato, Andrew Davis, Plšcido Domingo, Riccardo Frizza, Fabio Luisi, Nicola Luisotti, Andris Nelsons, and Patrick Summers.

Highly acclaimed recent portrayals by some of the Met's most popular stars will be reprised this season. Star soprano Ren_e Fleming performs the virtuoso title role of Rossini's Armida, then switches gears to sing the Countess in Richard Strauss's Capriccio (her first complete account of the role, though she sang the final scene at the Opening Night Gala in 2008). Susan Graham returns to the title role of Iphig_nie en Tauride with Plšcido Domingo repeating his noble Oreste. Natalie Dessay once again offers her brilliant portrayal of the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor, and Elina Garanca gives the audience another chance to witness her magnetic Carmen. Anna Netrebko reprises her tour-de-force Norina in Don Pasquale, and Karita Mattila takes the stage as Lisa in The Queen of Spades, a role she has not sung here since 1995. Angela Gheorghiu comes back for Gounod's Juliette for the first time since 1998, and Marcelo êlvarez again sings the title role in Il Trovatore.

Many of the world's most prominent singers will be taking on roles they have never sung at the Met before, including Piotr Beczała as Rom_o, Joseph Calleja as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Danielle de Niese as Despina in CosÐ fan tutte, Joyce DiDonato as the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Giuseppe Filianoti in the title role of Les Contes d'Hoffmann, opposite Olga Borodina as Giulietta and Ildar Abdrazakov as the Four Villains. Also in Met role debuts, Dmitri Hvorostovsky will sing the title role and Barbara Frittoli is Amelia in Simon Boccanegra, Magdalena Ko_enš is M_lisande, Peter Mattei is Yeletsky and Dolora Zajick is the Countess in The Queen of Spades. Patricia Racette sings Leonora in Il Trovatore, Sondra Radvanovsky and Violeta Urmana share the title role of Tosca, Deborah Voigt sings the title role and Marcello Giordani is Dick Johnson in La Fanciulla del West, and Waltraud Meier is Marie and Matthias Goerne is the title role in Wozzeck.

The Met: Live in HD 2010-11 Series

The 2010-11 season of The Met: Live in HD will feature 11 transmissions, beginning on October 9 with Das Rheingold and continuing with Boris Godunov (October 23), Don Pasquale (November 13), Don Carlo (December 11), La Fanciulla del West (January 8), Iphig_nie en Tauride (February 26), Lucia di Lammermoor (March 19), Le Comte Ory (April 9), Capriccio (April 23), Il Trovatore (April 30), and Die Walk‹re (May 14). The company's enormously successful, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning series of live transmissions into movie theaters in 44 countries and more than 1000 theaters around the world has sold more than 1.8 million tickets so far during the 2009-10 season. With two transmissions remaining in the fourth season of the popular series (Hamlet on March 27 and Armida on May 1) attendance is expected to exceed two million, effectively tripling the Met's paying audience (approximately 800,000 people attend performances in the opera house in a Met season).

New Productions

The 2010-11 season opens on September 27 with James Levine conducting the gala premiere of Wagner's Das Rheingold, in a production by internationally renowned director, writer, and performer Robert Lepage. Known for his visually stunning and technologically advanced theater works, Lepage made his Met debut in 2008 with Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust. His production team for the Ring includes set designer Carl Fillion, costume designer Fran‹ois St.-Aubin, and lighting designer ê_tienne Boucher, the latter two in their Met debuts. Holger F‹rterer is the interactive projection artist, and video images are by Boris Firquet. Bryn Terfel sings his first Wotan at the Met, and the cast also includes Wendy Bryn Harmer as Freia, Stephanie Blythe as Fricka, Patricia Bardon as Erda, Adam Diegel as Froh, Eric Owens as Alberich, Richard Croft as Loge, Gerhard Siegel as Mime, Dwayne Croft as Donner, and Franz-Josef Selig and Hans-Peter K‹nig as the giants Fasolt and Fafner. Levine, who has conducted every complete cycle of Wagner's masterpiece at the Met since 1989, says, "The Ring is one of those works of art that you think you know, but every time you return to it you find all kinds of brilliant moments that hadn't struck you with the same force before." In what has become a Met tradition, the opening night performance will be transmitted live to large outdoor screens in Times Square and at Lincoln Center, which the public can attend for free.

The new production of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, conducted by Valery Gergiev, will be staged by Peter Stein, one of the world's leading theater directors. German bass Ren_ Pape takes on the iconic title role for the first time with the company. Also making Met role debuts are Ekaterina Semenchuk as Marina, Aleksandrs Antonenko as Dimitri, Oleg Balashov as Shuisky, Evgeny Nikitin as Rangoni, and Mikhail Petrenko as Pimen. Vladimir Ognovenko sings Varlaam. Set designer Ferdinand W‹gerbauer, costume designer Moidele Bickel, and choreographer Apostolia Tsolaki make their Met debuts. Lighting design is by Duane Schuler. Boris Godunov will be performed with Mussorgsky's original orchestration.

Nicholas Hytner, artistic director of London's National Theatre, makes his Met debut with the new production of Don Carlo, a notable success when it opened in London in 2008. Yannick N_zet-S_guin, who triumphed in his recent Met debut leading a new production of Carmen, conducts. The production stars Roberto Alagna, who sings the title role for the first time at the Met, Marina Poplavskaya as Elisabeth de Valois, Simon Keenlyside as Rodrigo, and Ferruccio Furlanetto as Philip II. Anna Smirnova makes her Met debut as Princess Eboli, and Eric Halfvarson is the Grand Inquisitor. Yonghoon Lee makes his Met debut as Don Carlo in later performances. Bob Crowley, set and costume designer, and Mark Henderson, lighting designer, both make their Met debuts with this production.

German director Willy Decker's theatrically powerful production of La Traviata was widely praised at its Salzburg Festival premiere in 2005. Redesigned and rebuilt to fit the Met stage, it opens on New Year's Eve with a gala performance conducted by Gianandrea Noseda and starring Marina Poplavskaya as Violetta. Matthew Polenzani is Alfredo for the opening series of performances with Francesco Meli taking over later in the run, and Andrzej Dobber is Giorgio Germont. The members of the production team all make their Met debuts: Wolfgang Gussmann as set and costume designer, Hans Toelstede as lighting designer, and Athol Farmer as choreographer.

John Adams's landmark 1987 opera Nixon in China has its Met premiere under the composer's baton in a production by acclaimed director Peter Sellars created for the English National Opera, based on the original Houston Grand Opera production. Nixon in China, with a libretto by Alice Goodman, explores President Nixon's 1972 encounter with Mao Tse-tung and Communist China. Adams's work, says Sellars, "shows you what opera can do to history, which is to deepen it and move into its more subtle, nuanced and mysterious corners." James Maddalena, who sang the role of Richard Nixon at the world premiere, reprises his interpretation here, opposite Janis Kelly as Pat Nixon and Robert Brubaker as Mao Tse-tung. Kathleen Kim is Mao's wife Chiang Ch'ing and Russell Braun portrays Chou En-lai. Richard Paul Fink is Henry Kissinger. Sellars's creative team includes set designer Adrianne Lobel, costume designer Dunya Ramicova, lighting designer James F. Ingalls, choreographer Mark Morris, and sound designer Mark Grey.

Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher returns to the Met with a new production of Rossini's rarely heard Le Comte Ory, conducted by Maurizio Benini. Three bel canto virtuosos star in the new staging: Juan Diego Fl‹rez in the title role, Diana Damrau as Countess Adle, and Joyce DiDonato as Isolier. St_phane Degout is Raimbaud and Michele Pertusi portrays the Tutor. Sher's Tony Award-winning team includes veteran collaborators Michael Yeargan and Catherine Zuber, who create the sets and costumes, respectively, and Brian MacDevitt, who designs the lighting. Rossini's final comic masterpiece, in which a count disguises himself as a nun to gain access to the object of his affection, is a natural for Sher, whose inventive direction of Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Les Contes d'Hoffmann has charmed Met audiences. He describes the world of Le Comte Ory as, "a place where love is dangerous. People get hurt. That can be very funny and very painful.

Die Walk‹re, the second part of Wagner's Ring cycle, comes at the close of the Met's 2010-11 season, completing the first two installments of Robert Lepage's highly anticipated new production. (The Met will present the full cycle in the 2011-12 season.) James Levine conducts a star cast that includes Deborah Voigt in her first Met Br‹nnhilde, Eva-Maria Westbroek in her Met debut as Sieglinde, Stephanie Blythe as Fricka, and Jonas Kaufmann as Siegmund. Bryn Terfel takes on the towering role of Wotan, the king of the gods, and Hans-Peter K‹nig is Hunding. The Rheingold production team returns: Carl Fillion as set designer; Fran‹ois St.-Aubin as costume designer; and ê_tienne Boucher as lighting designer.


Twenty-one revivals are featured in the Met's 2010-11 season, including some of the most recent new productions. Rossini's Armida returns, starring Ren_e Fleming in the title role, with Lawrence Brownlee, Bruce Ford, John Osborn, Barry Banks, and Kobie van Rensburg making up the cohort of tenors in the extraordinary cast. Riccardo Frizza conducts the bel canto showpiece in a production by Mary Zimmerman.

The current season's hit production of Carmen also returns, with Elīna Garanča and Kate Aldrich in the title role, Nicole Cabell and Genia K‹hmeier singing MicaêŠla for the first time at the Met, Brandon Jovanovich and Roberto Alagna reprising their passionate portrayals of Don Jos_, and John Relyea singing his first Escamillo with the company.

Bartlett Sher's acclaimed production of Les Contes d'Hoffmann will also be seen again in the new season, starring Giuseppe Filianoti in the title role. Hibla Gerzmava makes her Met debut as Antonia, Anna Christy and Elena Mosuc are Olympia, Olga Borodina is Giulietta, and Ildar Abdrazakov sings the Four Villains. Kate Lindsey again sings the roles of Nicklausse and the Muse. French conductor Patrick Fournillier makes his Met debut leading Offenbach's score.

Two divas take on the title role of Tosca for the first time at the Met in Luc Bondy's production, which opened the current season: Sondra Radvanovsky and Violeta Urmana. Marcelo êlvarez returns to the role of Cavaradossi, this time alternating with Salvatore Licitra. Falk Struckmann, last heard at the Met in 2003, shares the role of Scarpia with James Morris, who will be celebrating his 40th season at the Met. Paul Plishka is again the Sacristan, and Marco Armiliato conducts.

Eighteenth-century opera has a significant place in the season repertory, with two operas each by Gluck and Mozart. Mark Morris's acclaimed production of Orfeo ed Euridice stars countertenor David Daniels, who sang the title role at the staging's 2007 premiere. This time his beloved Euridice is debuting soprano Kate Royal, and Lisette Oropesa sings Amor.

Gluck's sublime Iphig_nie en Tauride also returns in the 2007 production by Stephen Wadsworth, conducted this season by Patrick Summers. Susan Graham sings the title role opposite the Oreste of Plšcido Domingo, the pair repeating their highly praised portrayals from the production's premiere. Paul Groves returns to the role of Pylade, and Gordon Hawkins sings Thoas.

Conductor William Christie, who is widely acclaimed for his performances of Baroque and Classical operas, makes his Met debut leading the revival of Mozart's CosÐ fan tutte. His youthful cast includes Miah Persson as Fiordiligi, Isabel Leonard as Dorabella, Danielle de Niese as Despina, and Pavol Breslik as Ferrando, all singing their roles for the first time at the Met. Nathan Gunn reprises his Guglielmo and Wolfgang Holzmair makes his company debut as Don Alfonso.

Italian bel canto opera is also on the schedule this season. In addition to Rossini's Armida, two Donizetti operas return to the repertory in recent productions. Otto Schenk's hilarious staging of Don Pasquale has its first revival since its 2006 premiere, with James Levine conducting the opera for the first time at the Met. Anna Netrebko and Mariusz Kwiecien return from the premiere cast, Matthew Polenzani takes on a new Met role as Ernesto, and John Del Carlo sings the title role.

Natalie Dessay portrays the fragile title heroine of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, a role in which she triumphed at the premiere of Mary Zimmerman's new production on opening night of the 2007-08 season. Joseph Calleja adds a new role to his Met repertory as her lover, Edgardo. Ludovic T_zier sings Enrico, and Kwangchul Youn is Raimondo. All three men are new to their roles with the company. Patrick Summers conducts.

Verdi operas, always a core of the repertory, are represented by three powerful and popular works. Rigoletto opens in the season's first week, with another run in January and yet another in April and May. Casts for each series of performances include Christine Sch‹fer, Nino Machaidze (debut), and Diana Damrau as Gilda; Francesco Meli (debut), Joseph Calleja, and Giuseppe Filianoti as the Duke; Lado Ataneli, George Gagnidze, Carlos Alvarez, and _eljko Lučić in the title role; with Nino Surguladze (debut), Kirstin Chšvez, and Nancy Fabiola Herrera as Maddalena, and Andrea Silvestrelli (debut), and Stefan Kocšn as Sparafucile. Paolo Arrivabeni makes his Met debut conducting the first run, with Fabio Luisi taking over for later performances.

David McVicar's production of Il Trovatore also has numerous performances, conducted by Marco Armiliato and James Levine. Marcelo êlvarez sings the title role. Alternating casts include Patricia Racette, Julianna Di Giacomo, and Sondra Radvanovsky as Leonora; Marianne Cornetti and Dolora Zajick as Azucena; _eljko Lučić, Vitaliy Bilyy, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Count di Luna; and Alexander Tsymbalyuk (debut) and Stefan Kocšn as Ferrando.

Maestro Levine again conducts when Hvorostovsky makes his Met role debut in the demanding title role of Simon Boccanegra. Also new to their roles in this opera are Barbara Frittoli as Amelia and Ram‹n Vargas as Gabriele Adorno. Ferruccio Furlanetto returns with his powerful portrayal of Jacopo Fiesco.

French Romantic repertoire is represented by Gounod's Rom_o et Juliette, starring Angela Gheorghiu and Piotr Beczała in the title roles. Julie Boulianne as St_phano and Lucas Meachem as Mercutio are new to their roles, and James Morris returns as Frre Laurent, a role he last sang here in 1974. Plšcido Domingo conducts.

Tchaikovsky's haunting masterpiece The Queen of Spades boasts a cast that includes Karita Mattila as Lisa, Dolora Zajick in a Met role debut as the Old Countess, Tamara Mumford as Paulina, Vladimir Galouzine as Ghermann, Peter Mattei as Prince Yeletsky, and Alexej Markov as Tomsky. Andris Nelsons, who received critical acclaim for his Met debut leading Turandot this season, conducts.

Puccini's ever-popular La Bohme, in Franco Zeffirelli's classic production, is on the calendar for 17 performances with alternating casts: Maija Kovalevska and Krassimira Stoyanova as MimÐ; Ellie Dehn as Musetta; Joseph Calleja, Piotr Beczała, and Ram‹n Vargas as Rodolfo; Peter Mattei as Marcello; Edward Parks, Dimitris Tiliakos (debut), and Trevor Scheunemann as Schaunard, Shenyang and Gunther Groissb‹ck (debut) as Colline, and Paul Plishka as Benoit/Alcindoro. Some notable debuts are scheduled for the run, including that of conductor Roberto Rizzi Brignoli, tenor Vittorio Grigolo as Rodolfo, soprano Kristine Opolais as Musetta, and Fabio Capitanucci as Marcello.

Another Puccini opera this season, La Fanciulla del West, has not been heard at the Met since 1993. Deborah Voigt and Marcello Giordani make their company role debuts as Minnie and Dick Johnson, under the baton of Nicola Luisotti. Juha Uusitalo takes the role of the Sheriff Jack Rance. Also singing Minnie and Dick are Elisabete Matos, in her company debut, and Carl Tanner. The return of Giancarlo del Monaco's widely acclaimed 1991 production celebrates the 100th anniversary of the opera's 1910 world premiere at the Met.

Two operas by Richard Strauss are featured in the 2010-11 season. In Ariadne auf Naxos, Violeta Urmana reprises her acclaimed portrayal of the title role and Kathleen Kim again sings Zerbinetta. Joyce DiDonato adds the role of the Composer to her Met repertory, while Robert Dean Smith returns for Bacchus (his first role with the Met since his single Tristan in 2008), and Thomas Allen sings the Music Master. Ren_e Fleming dazzled the audience when she sang the final scene of Strauss's Capriccio on the opening night of the 2008 season. In the new season, she sings the complete opera in John Cox's production, with Andrew Davis conducting. She is joined by cast members Sarah Connolly, Joseph Kaiser, Russell Braun, Morten Frank Larsen (debut), and Peter Rose.

Simon Rattle, music director of the Berlin Philharmonic and one of the world's foremost conductors, make his Met debut leading Debussy's ethereal Pell_as et M_lisande. The cast includes St_phane Degout and Magdalena Ko_enš in the title roles, with Felicity Palmer as Genevive, Gerald Finley as Golaud, and Willard White as Arkel: all singing their roles for the first time at the Met.

James Levine brings his searing interpretation of Alban Berg's Wozzeck back to the Met stage, with Matthias Goerne in the title role and Waltraud Meier as Marie, both in their Met role debuts. Stuart Skelton makes his company debut as the Drum-Major, with Gerhard Siegel as the Captain and Walter Fink as the Doctor.

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