Met Opera Seeks Chenoweth for The Ghosts of Versailles

News   Met Opera Seeks Chenoweth for The Ghosts of Versailles
Peter Gelb, the Metropolitan Opera's incoming general manager, hopes to convince Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth to make her New York opera debut, the AP reported.
Kristin Chenoweth
Kristin Chenoweth Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Gelb said at a Feb. 13 press conference that he'd like the Wicked star to sing the role of Samira in John Corigliano's opera The Ghost of Versailles.

"She will be terrific in that role, we believe, and she will bring in her fans," said Gelb. "But should she be singing Traviata? No."

The AP quoted Chenoweth spokewoman Jill Fritzo as saying discussion of such a booking "is very premature." Tony-winner Chenoweth was trained as an opera singer before hitting it big in the commercial musical theatre (in which she occasionally got to show off her coloratura notes — in concerts of Candide and The Apple Tree, for example). In fact, she won the Most Talented Young Singer Award from Metropolitan Opera in 1993.

Ghosts debuted at the Met in 1991. The play-within-a-play plot is set at Versailles and features playwright Beaumarchais and Marie Antoinette, now dead, as characters.

* As previously reported, The Metropolitan Opera in New York is drawing on some top theatre talents for its upcoming attractions. Director Mary Zimmeran, playwright Tony Kushner, and composers Michael John LaChiusa, Jeanine Tesori and Adam Geuttel will take part in upcoming productions, the New York Times reported.

Zimmerman, who won a Tony Award for her stage adapatation of Metamorphoses, will direct opera star Renee Fleming in Rossini's Armida during the 2009-10 season.

Also new is an ambitious, multi-show, multi-year collaboration between the Met and Lincoln Center Theater, in which Broadway composers will develop operas. Adam Guettel, whose The Light in the Piazza is a hit at LCT; Jeanine Tesori, who wrote incidental music for LCT's production of Twelfth Night and saw her Thoroughly Modern Millie on Broadway; Tony Kushner, who worked with Tesori on Caroline, or Change; and Michael John LaChiusa, whose Bernarda Alba is now at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, will be part of the venture.

The Met and LCT jointly commissioned new works from the composers. The pieces will be workshopped—a process more common to theatre than opera—and then presented at either the Met or the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. The first complete show is expected to debut during the 2011-12 season. Peter Gelb, the Met's incoming general manager, told the Times that the arrangement "was designed to produce operas with better dramatic flow from unexpected composers and to give them a chance for improvement before hitting the stage."

Other projects include a new Tosca, possibly directed by George C. Wolfe, debuting in fall 2009. Richard Eyre will direct Matthew Bourne will choreograph Angela Gheorghiu in Carmen. For the next season, 2010-11, theatrical auteur Robert Lapage will stage a Wagner "Ring."

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