Met Opera Announces 2009-2010 Season; Eight New Productions and Four Premieres

Classic Arts Features   Met Opera Announces 2009-2010 Season; Eight New Productions and Four Premieres
The Metropolitan Opera has announced details and casting for its 2009-2010 Season, which will boast eight new productions including four company premieres. Dessay, Damrau, Netrebko, Voigt, Fleming, Domingo, Villaz‹n and Voigt will all enjoy Met role debuts.

Eight new productions, four of which are company premieres, will highlight the Metropolitan Opera's 2009-10 season. General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine jointly announced plans that include:

- Met premieres of Rossini's Armida, Verdi's Attila, Janšček's From the House of the Dead, and Shostakovich's The Nose

- New productions of Bizet's Carmen, Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Thomas's Hamlet, and Puccini's Tosca

-18 revivals from the company's repertory.

The season is the first to be entirely planned under Gelb's leadership, in collaboration with Levine (the past three seasons were planned before Gelb became General Manager in 2006-07 but included some productions, repertoire, and casting changes made by Gelb).

Peter Gelb said, "Although the economy is bad, we are committed to maintaining the Met's artistic excellence. We have gained a new and larger public that we're determined to keep by continuing to present the world's leading artists in compelling new productions and appealing revivals."

James Levine said, "This is a wonderful balance of repertory that includes four works totally new to the Met as well as a number of great operas that have been out of the repertory for a long time. I'm also delighted that we have so many important debuts, including conductors, singers, directors and production teams."

Many of opera's top singers will appear in roles that they have not sung at the Met before:

Olga Borodina as Marguerite, Diana Damrau as Marie, Danielle de Niese as Susanna, Natalie Dessay as Oph_lie, Ren_e Fleming as Armida, Elīna Garanča as Nicklausse, Angela Gheorghiu as Carmen, Angelika Kirchschlager as Hansel, Maija Kovalevska as MicaêŠla and Li‹, Karita Mattila as Tosca, Anna Netrebko as Antonia, Patricia Racette in Il Trittico, Nina Stemme as Ariadne, Violeta Urmana as Aida and Odabella, Deborah Voigt as Senta, Anne Sofie von Otter as Countess Geschwitz, Marcelo êlvarez as Cavaradossi, Piotr Beczala as Rodolfo, Jos_ Cura as Stiffelio, Plšcido Domingo as Boccanegra, Marcello Giordani as Cal_f, Jonas Kaufmann as Cavaradossi and Don Jos_, Stephen Gould as Erik, Ram‹n Vargas as Foresto, Rolando Villaz‹n as Hoffmann, Carlos Alvarez as Ezio, Simon Keenlyside as Hamlet, Mariusz Kwiecien as Escamillo, _eljko Lučić as Michele, Peter Mattei as Shishkov, Ildar Abdrazakov as Attila, Ren_ Pape as the four villains in Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Paulo Szot as Kovalyov, Bryn Terfel as Scarpia, and Juha Uusitalo as Scarpia and the Dutchman.


New Productions

The 2009-10 season opens on September 21 with the gala premiere of a new production of Puccini's Tosca, conducted by James Levine. Director Luc Bondy and designer Richard Peduzzi, among Europe's best known theatrical artists, are both making their Met debuts, joined by Milena Canonero as costume designer. Karita Mattila, whose Salome electrified New York audiences as well as people around the world as part of The Met: Live in HD earlier in the current season, sings the title role of Tosca for the first time outside her native Finland. The role of Cavaradossi is shared by Marcelo êlvarez and Jonas Kaufmann, for both of whom it is a new role at the Met, and by Marcello Giordani, who returns to the part. Juha Uusitalo, who debuted in the current season as Jochanaan opposite Mattila's Salome, sings Scarpia in the initial run, followed by George Gagnidze, this season's Rigoletto, and Bryn Terfel, who brings his much admired portrayal to the Met for the first time in a complete performance (he sang Act II on opening night of the 2005-06 season). Philippe Auguin conducts later performances. Tosca is a co-production with the Teatro alla Scala, Milan and with the Bavarian State Opera, Munich. It is a gift of The Annenberg Foundation.

The Met premiere on November 12 of Janšček's From the House of the Dead features two of the season's renowned debuting artists: conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and director Patrice Ch_reau. Peter Mattei, whose Figaro in the 2006 new production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia won widespread acclaim, sings the role of Shishkov, with Stefan Margita in his Met debut as Filka Morozov, Kurt Streit as Skuratov, Peter Hoare in his Met debut as Shapkin, and Willard White as Gorianchikov. Richard Peduzzi designs the sets, and other members of the production team include three Met debuting artists: costume designer Caroline de Vivaise, lighting designer Bertrand Couderc, and choreographer Thierry Thieê_ Niang. Based on a Dostoyevsky story, From the House of the Dead takes place entirely in a Russian prison camp. In the words of Ch_reau: "The prison camp is a different society, parallel to ours, but there are many similarities between the two. Power, relationships, humiliation, and passion _ all those things exist in both worlds." A production of the Met and the Wiener Festwochen, in co-production with the Holland Festival, Amsterdam, the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, and the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, it was voted Europe's best opera staging for 2007 by the Charles Cros Academy. The Met production is a gift of The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc., and of Robert L. Turner.

James Levine conducts Offenbach's psychological fantasy Les Contes d'Hoffmann in a new production by Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher. Rolando Villaz‹n sings the tour-de-force title role, with Kathleen Kim, Anna Netrebko, and Ekaterina Gubanova as his three loves, Elīna Garanča as his companion Nicklausse, and Ren_ Pape as his nemesis in the four villain roles. The production team is completed by Michael Yeargan as set designer and Catherine Zuber as costume designer, Sher's collaborators on Il Barbiere di Siviglia, as well as by lighting designer James F. Ingalls and choreographer Dou Dou Huang. Inspired by Kafka, Sher describes his production as "a magical journey in which the title character works out different manifestations of his psyche." The production premieres at a gala benefit on December 3 and is a gift of the Hermione Foundation.

On New Year's Eve, Bizet's Carmen opens with a gala performance for the new production premiere. Conductor Yannick N_zet-S_guin and Olivier Award-winning director Richard Eyre both make their Met debuts with the new staging, which features Angela Gheorghiu in her first stage performances anywhere of the title role. Olga Borodina sings the seductive gypsy at later performances, while Barbara Frittoli and Maija Kovalevska share the role of MicaêŠla; Roberto Alagna, Brandon Jovanovich (in his Met debut), and Jonas Kaufmann are Don Jos_; and Mariusz Kwiecien and Teddy Tahu Rhodes sing the swaggering toreador Escamillo. Alain Altinoglu makes his Met debut conducting later performances. The set and costume designer is Rob Howell, in his Met debut, Peter Mumford is the lighting designer, and Christopher Wheeldon is the choreographer. Eyre, who was director of London's Royal National Theatre from 1987-97, says Carmen "is one of the inalienably great works of art. It's sexy in every sense. And I think it should be shocking." The production is a gift of Mrs. Paul Desmarais, Sr.

Riccardo Muti, one of the world's most esteemed maestros and a champion of Verdian style, makes his Met debut, appropriately, conducting the company premiere of Verdi's Attila on February 23. In his Met debut, Pierre Audi directs the new production. Following their operatic debut with Tristan und Isolde at the Berlin State Opera in 2006, Herzog and de Meuron, working with Miuccia Prada, will create the set and costume designs. Jean Kalman, whose most recent work at the Met was the new production of Verdi's Macbeth in 2007, returns as lighting designer. Ildar Abdrazakov sings the title role of the infamous Hun leader, joined by Violeta Urmana as the vengeful Odabella, Carlos Alvarez as the Roman general Ezio, and Ram‹n Vargas as Foresto. In addition to the "bird's nest" Beijing National Stadium built for the 2008 Olympics, the Pritzker Prize-winning architectural team of Herzog & de Meuron is particularly known for designing the Tate Modern museum in London. Prada, one of the world's most renowned fashion designers, makes her operatic debut with this production. The production is a gift of Elena and Rudy Prokupets.

Dmitri Shostakovich's The Nose has its Met premiere on March 5 in a new production staged and designed by William Kentridge, under the baton of Valery Gergiev. Tony Award-winner Paulo Szot makes his Met debut as Kovalyov, with Andrei Popov as the Police Inspector and Gordon Gietz as the Nose, also in their company debuts. Kentridge and Sabine Theunissen are the set designers, Greta Goiris designs the costumes, Urs Sch‹nebaum designs the lighting, and Luc De Wit is the associate director. All members of the production team are making their Met debuts. Based on a short story by Gogol, Shostakovich's The Nose "is the story of a man who wakes up one morning and finds that his nose is gone," says Kentridge. "The opera is about what constitutes a person _ how singular we are, and how much we are divided against ourselves. And it's also about the terrors of hierarchy." The Nose is a co-production of the Met, the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, and the Op_ra National de Lyon. It is a gift of Frederick Iseman. Additional funding is provided by The Richard J. Massey Foundation for the Arts and Sciences.

The new production of Ambroise Thomas's Hamlet, which opens on March 16, stars Simon Keenlyside in the title role and Natalie Dessay as Oph_lie. Louis Langr_e conducts a cast that also includes Jennifer Larmore as Gertrude, Toby Spence as LaêŠrte, in his Met debut, and James Morris as Claudius. The production is by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser with set designs by Christian Fenouillat, costume designs by Agostino Cavalca, and lighting designs by Christophe Forey _ all in their Met debuts. When this production opened at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, The Independent called Keenlyside's Hamlet, "a revelation_ã_thrilling throughout." The Met performances will use the alternative tragic ending, rather than the happy ending used at Covent Garden. Hamlet was last performed at the Met in 1897 and is particularly known for Oph_lie's famous mad scene, which was a favorite of such legendary sopranos as Nellie Melba and Maria Callas. The production is owned by the Grand Th_ê¢tre de Genêëve and is a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Wilmer J. Thomas, Jr.

Ren_e Fleming stars in the title role of Rossini's Armida, which has its Met premiere on April 12. Riccardo Frizza conducts, and Mary Zimmerman directs this story of a sorceress who enthralls men in her island prison. The cast includes six tenor roles in all, with the principal male parts taken in this production by Lawrence Brownlee as Rinaldo, Bruce Ford as Goffredo, Jos_ Manuel Zapata as Gernando, Barry Banks as Carlo, and Kobie van Rensburg as Ubaldo. Richard Hudson designs the sets and costumes, Brian MacDevitt is the lighting designer, and Graciela Daniele makes her Met debut as choreographer. Zimmerman, whose hit production of Lucia di Lammermoor opened the 2007-08 season, calls Armida "a buried treasure, a box of jewels." She notes that the opera "has an epic, enchanted quality and a tremendous visual element." This production of Armida is a gift of The Sybil B. Harrington Endowment Fund.


The 18 revivals of the 2009 _10 season feature a lineup of the world's greatest singers, including some notable Met role debuts. Anna Netrebko returns as Mimê‘ in La Bohêëme, which also stars Piotr Beczala, who sings his first Rodolfo with the company. Gerald Finley and debuting baritone George Petean are Marcello, and Nicole Cabell and Ruth Ann Swenson alternate as Musetta. Marco Armiliato conducts.

Returning to the role that launched her international career, Angela Gheorghiu brings her famous portrayal of the title heroine in La Traviata back to the Met. Opposite her are James Valenti, a former Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions winner, in his Met debut as Alfredo and Thomas Hampson as Germont. Leonard Slatkin returns to the Met podium for the first time in 12 years.

James Levine will conduct Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, featuring the much-admired portrayals of Ren_e Fleming as the Marschallin and Susan Graham as Octavian, with Kristinn Sigmundsson as Baron Ochs. Miah Persson makes her debut as Sophie, a role she shares with Christine Sch‹fer. Ram‹n Vargas and Eric Cutler alternate as the Italian singer, and Hans-Joachim Ketelsen and Thomas Allen sing Faninal.

Deborah Voigt takes on another iconic Wagnerian role, singing Senta in Der Fliegende Holl‹nder for the first time on the Met stage, with Juha Uusitalo in his first Dutchman with the company. Stephen Gould, in his Met debut, sings Erik, and Hans-Peter K‹nig is Daland, with Kazushi Ono conducting. Voigt will also be heard as Chrysothemis in Elektra, joined by Susan Bullock making her Met debut in the title role, Felicity Palmer as Klyt‹mnestra, and Alan Held as Orest. Following his critically acclaimed performances of Strauss's Die êÊgyptische Helena at the Met two years ago, Fabio Luisi returns to conduct the Bavarian master's Elektra. Der Fliegende Holl‹nder returns to the Met stage for the first time in nine years, and Elektra for the first time in seven years.

Four decades into a legendary Met career, Plšcido Domingo makes history by singing the baritone title role of Simon Boccanegra, conducted by James Levine. Adrianne Pieczonka, Marcello Giordani, and James Morris are his co-stars. Domingo will take on conductor's duties for another powerful Verdi drama, Stiffelio, which has not been heard at the Met in 12 years. Fellow tenor Jos_ Cura sings the title role, with Angela Marambio as Lina and Andrzej Dobber as Stankar.

Juan Diego Fl‹rez reprises his acclaimed performance as Tonio in Donizetti's La Fille du R_giment, one of the hits of the 2007 _08 season. Diana Damrau, who created a sensation in the same composer's Lucia di Lammermoor this season, makes her Met role debut as Marie, and the great Kiri Te Kanawa returns in the speaking role of the Duchess of Krakenthorp. Damrau also revisits her charming portrayal of Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, as does Joyce DiDonato, who sings the role in earlier performances of the run. Barry Banks and Lawrence Brownlee share the role of Count Almaviva, while Rodion Pogossov and Franco Vassallo play the barber of the title, under the baton of Maurizio Benini.

One of the 20th century's most influential scores, Alban Berg's Lulu, is brought back to the Met after an eight year absence, led by James Levine, with Marlis Petersen, an acclaimed interpreter of the title role, as the scandalous femme fatale. Anne Sofie von Otter sings Countess Geschwitz, and James Morris is Dr. Sch‹n, Gary Lehman Alwa, Michael Schade the Painter, and David Pittsinger the Animal Trainer _ all for the first time at the Met.

A new trio of stars takes on the leading roles in Robert Lepage's inventive production of Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust, which uses virtual scenery and interactive video: Ram‹n Vargas sings the title role, Olga Borodina is Marguerite, and Ildar Abdrazakov plays M_phistoph_lêës, with James Conlon conducting.

Two visually sumptuous Puccini productions return with new cast members. Franco Zeffirelli's classic Turandot features the Met role debuts of Maria Guleghina in the title role, Marcello Giordani and Salvatore Licitra as Cal_f, and Marina Poplavskaya and Maija Kovalevska as Li‹. Conductor Andris Nelsons makes his Met debut, as do Lise Lindstrom as Turandot, and Frank Porretta as Cal_f. Samuel Ramey and Hao Jiang Tian are Timur. In Jack O'Brien's Il Trittico, Patricia Racette and Stephanie Blythe star in all three of the one-act operas. Racette brings her dramatic and vocal skills to the roles of Giorgetta, Angelica, and Lauretta for the first time with the company, and Blythe (who appeared in the production's premiere run and who recently received tremendous acclaim for her performances as Gluck's Orfeo) again plays Frugola, La Principessa, and Zita. _eljko Lučić is the new Michele and Aleksandrs Antonenko and Salvatore Licitra are Luigi in Il Tabarro. Alessandro Corbelli reprises his memorable appearance as the title character of Gianni Schicchi and Saimir Pirgu debuts as Rinuccio. Stefano Ranzani makes his Met debut conducting.

Daniele Gatti returns for the first time in 14 years to conduct a cast of powerful voices in Verdi's Aida. Violeta Urmana and Hasmik Papian share the title role, while Dolora Zajick returns in one of her most acclaimed portrayals as the Egyptian princess Amneris, and Johan Botha, Richard Margison, and Salvatore Licitra alternate as Radamêës. Carlo Guelfi sings Amonasro, and Paolo Carignani conducts the later performances.

Nina Stemme returns to the Met for the first time in nine years in the title role of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, with Aleksandra Kurzak as Zerbinetta and Sarah Connolly as the Composer, all in their Met role debuts. Lance Ryan makes his Met debut as Bacchus, and Kirill Petrenko conducts.

Danielle de Niese and John Relyea star as Susanna and Figaro, the servant couple who outmaneuver their bosses in Le Nozze di Figaro. Bo Skovhus is the Count and Emma Bell makes her Met debut as the Countess. The excitable pageboy Cherubino is played by Isabel Leonard, and Dan Ettinger debuts as conductor. Fabio Luisi conducts the later performances with Lisette Oropesa sharing the role of Susanna with de Niese, and Luca Pisaroni as Figaro, Annette Dasch in her Met debut as the Countess, and Ludovic T_zier as the Count.

Julie Taymor's popular staging of Mozart's Die Zauberfl‹te returns in the opera's full-length German version, with two debuting conductors, Bernard Labadie and Adam Fischer. Returning to their roles are Genia K‹hmeier as Pamina, Erika Mikl‹sa as the Queen of the Night, Matthew Polenzani as Tamino, and Nathan Gunn and Rodion Pogossov as the bird-catcher Papageno. New interpreters include Christopher Maltman in his first Met Papageno and the Met debuts of Julia Kleiter as Pamina, Albina Shagimuratova as the Queen, Matthias Klink as Tamino, and Georg Zeppenfeld and Hans-Peter K‹nig as Sarastro.

Holiday Presentation: Hansel and Gretel

The Met's special holiday presentations for families enter their fourth season with Richard Jones's English-language production of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. Miah Persson and Angelika Kirchschlager are the lost siblings. Philip Langridge reprises his portrayal of the Witch and Andrew Davis conducts. Jones's production is a fanciful version of the familiar fairy tale that delighted children and adults alike when it premiered at the Met in 2007. The eight performances include four matinees and are specially priced for the holidays.


The Met: Live in HD series details

The Met: Live in HD series will present nine live transmissions in its fourth season. Tickets for the 2009-10 series will go on sale in September; Met members will have ticket priority before tickets are made available to the general public. The schedule is as follows:

Tosca, October 10 _ Levine; Mattila, M. êlvarez, Uusitalo, Plishka

Aida, October 24 _ Gatti; Urmana, Zajick, Botha, Guelfi, Scandiuzzi, Kocšn

Turandot, November 7 _ Nelsons; Guleghina, Poplavskaya, Giordani, Ramey

Les Contes d'Hoffmann, December 19 _ Levine; Kim, Netrebko, Gubanova, Garanča, Villaz‹n, Pape

Der Rosenkavalier, January 9 _ Levine; Fleming, Graham, Sch‹fer, Cutler, Allen, Sigmundsson

Carmen, January 16 _ N_zet-S_guin; Frittoli, Gheorghiu, Alagna, Kwiecien

Simon Boccanegra, February 6 _ Levine; Pieczonka, Giordani, Domingo, Morris

Hamlet, March 27 _ Langr_e; Dessay, Larmore, Spence, Keenlyside, Morris

Armida, May 1 _ Frizza; Fleming, Brownlee, Ford, Zapata, Banks, van Rensburg

As part of this season's The Met: Live in HD series, the Metropolitan Opera will premiere The Audition, a feature-length documentary directed by Academy Award-nominated and Emmy and Grammy Award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke, on 400 screens across the country on Sunday, April 19 at 3:00 pm ET (and in Canada on June 6 and 15 at 1:00 pm EST).

The Met: Live in HD performances began airing on PBS in January 2007, and nine of these HD performances are now available on DVD. The most recent, The Magic Flute, is released by the Met and is available at the newly renovated Met Opera Shop in the opera house lobby. The 2009-10 season will see more releases of archival videos and audio recordings on the Met's own label.

Additional programs include the newly-released online Met Player, Met broadcasts on the radio and Web, The MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Center Theater "Opera/Theater Commissions" Program, and the continuation of the free Open House Dress Rehearsals.

The Met's successful Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman Rush Ticket program will continue for a fourth season, thanks to the continued support of Met Board member Agnes Varis and her husband, Karl Leichtman. The program provides up to two tickets per customer for orchestra seats regularly priced at $100 per ticket at the sharply discounted price of $20, available two hours before curtain time.

Ticket prices for the Met's 2009-10 season will remain the same with two exceptions: Family Circle and Balcony Box prices are increasing from $15 to $20, and some seats in the Grand Tier, Dress Circle, and Balcony sections will be designated as premium locations. For the third year, season subscribers and patrons can purchase advance single tickets to the full season, as well as tickets to gala events, at the time they subscribe.

For further information on this and the upcoming Met season, visit the Metropolitan Opera.

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