Opening Night: Fleming, Vargas, Hamspon and More Open the Met's 125th Season | Playbill

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Classic Arts Features Opening Night: Fleming, Vargas, Hamspon and More Open the Met's 125th Season Ren_e Fleming is joined by by Ram‹n Vargas, Thomas Hampson, Dwayne Croft and others for the Opening Night Gala on Sept. 22.

"The Metropolitan Opera opens its 2008-09 season on September 22 with a gala performance that kicks off its 125th anniversary, starring Ren_e Fleming in three fully-staged scenes, including some of her most acclaimed portrayals. Costumes for Fleming have been specially created for each of the scenes in the Opening Night Gala by three of the world's legendary fashion designers: John Galliano, Christian Lacroix, and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel.

The program opens with Act II of Verdi's La Traviata, and continues with Act III of Massenet's Manon, and the final scene of Richard Strauss's one act opera, Capriccio. Met Music Director James Levine conducts the second act of La Traviata, which has two scenes: the first at Violetta's country house and the second at a grand Parisian mansion in the elaborate staging by Franco Zeffirelli. Ram‹n Vargas sings the role of Alfredo Germont, and Thomas Hampson that of his father, Giorgio. Christian Lacroix has designed two costumes for Fleming, one for each scene.

The Manon act is also in two parts: the first is the spectacular 'Cours-la-Reine' scene featuring the heroine's famous 'Gavotte,' followed by the searingly dramatic scene in the church of St. Sulpice. Ram‹n Vargas is Manon's lover, the Chevalier des Grieux, Dwayne Croft her cousin, Lescaut, and Robert Lloyd the Chevalier's father, the Comte des Grieux, with Marco Armiliato conducting. Fleming's costume for scene one and an additional cloak for the second scene are by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel.

The musically transcendent finale of Capriccio, conducted by Patrick Summers, music director of the Houston Grand Opera, concludes the evening, with Fleming in a costume created by John Galliano."

The Met: Live in HD Transmits Opening Night
For the first time, The Met: Live in HD, the highly successful series of performances transmitted live in high definition (HD) into movie theaters, will carry the Met's opening night. It will be transmitted to 600 theaters in North and South America, including Mexico City's Auditorio Nacional, and Buenos Aires' Teatro 25 de Mayo ‹- both new additions to the Met's HD network.

American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham hosts the evening, the red carpet, and live backstage interviews. The HD director for this performance is Gary Halvorson, who directed five out of the eight HD programs last season. Last season, the series of eight HD operas was attended by over 935,000 people worldwide. This season, the series has been expanded to eleven Live in HD transmissions, including the Met premiere of John Adams's Doctor Atomic and five other new stage productions. The Met's HD series is generously supported by the Neubauer Family Foundation. Information on theaters carrying the series is available at the Met's web site,

Additional Live Transmissions to Times Square and Fordham University at Lincoln Center
As a highlight of its 125th anniversary celebration, the Met will transmit the opening-night performance onto multiple screens in Times Square and Fordham University's Lincoln Center campus, where thousands of people can experience it for free.

In Times Square, multiple giant screens will carry the live performance, including the Astrovision (Panasonic), Reuters, Nasdaq, and MTV screens.

The opera will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS channel 78. The performance will also be streamed live on the Met's website. The free outdoor airings of the Met's opening have proven a popular attraction for thousands of New Yorkers since the new tradition was begun with General Manager Peter Gelb's first season in 2006.

Due to construction on Lincoln Center Plaza, the Opening Night Gala will be presented in a live plazacast on the North Meadow at Fordham University at Lincoln Center. The Fordham plazacast is free admission, but tickets are required. Approximately 1700 tickets will be distributed beginning Sunday, September 21 at noon at the Met Box Office, with a maximum of two per person.

The Times Square relay of the opening night gala is free, and tickets are not required. Approximately 2,000 seats will be available for the public on a first-come first-served basis, with additional standing room provided.


One of opera's most glamorous and popular stars, Ren_e Fleming will appear in the title role of a new production of Massenet's ThaÇs and as Dvořšk's Rusalka this season at the Met, in addition to the Opening Night Gala. ThaÇs will be shown live in high-definition in movie theaters worldwide on December 20.

Fleming has sung in four Met premieres:: the world premiere of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles (1991); Carlyle Floyd's Susannah (1999); Bellini's Il Pirata (2002); and Handel's Rodelinda (2004). In addition she sang the Countess Almaviva in Jonathan Miller's new production of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro in 1998.

This year's gala Opening Night will be the American soprano's fifth season-opening performance at the Met. On opening night of the 1995 season, she sang Desdemona in Verdi's Otello, opposite Plšcido Domingo. To open the 2000 season, she sang the role of Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni, and in 2002, she was Desdemona in Act IV of Otello for the opening night gala of staged scenes. In 2003, Fleming opened the season as Violetta Val_ry in Verdi's La Traviata. Ren_e Fleming has sung more than 150 performances on the Met stage as well as numerous concerts with the Met Orchestra.

A frequent host of The Met: Live in HD series, Fleming will, this season, introduce and host the transmissions of La Rondine on January 10, 2009 and of Madama Butterfly on March 7, 2009.


The Metropolitan Opera's 2008-09 season pays tribute to the company's extraordinary history on the occasion of its 125th anniversary, while also emphasizing the Met's renewed commitment to advancing the art form. The upcoming season features six new productions, 18 revivals, the final performances of Otto Schenk's production of Wagner's Ring cycle conducted by Levine, and two gala celebrations; the galas include the season-opening performance featuring Ren_e Fleming as well as a 125th anniversary celebration on March 15.

New productions include the company premiere of John Adams's Doctor Atomic as well as the Met's first staged production of Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust, and Massenet's ThaÇs, Puccini's La Rondine, Verdi's Il Trovatore, and Bellini's La Sonnambula. Future seasons include new presentations of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles (2009-10) and Thomas Ads's The Tempest (2011-12).

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