Seven new productions, including two company premieres and the first two parts of a new Ring cycle, featuring many of the world's greatest singers and conductors, will highlight the Metropolitan Opera's 2010-11 season. 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 Walküre, 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 Walküre will open on April 22, 2011, with Levine conducting a cast that includes Deborah Voigt in her first Met Brünnhilde, 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. René 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 Nézet-Séguin. 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 Flórez in the title role, Diana Damrau as Countess Adèle, 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 Pelléas et Mélisande, and William Christie, who conducts Mozart's Così 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, Plácido 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 Renée 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 Iphigénie en Tauride with Plácido Domingo repeating his noble Oreste. Natalie Dessay once again offers her brilliant portrayal of the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor, and El?na Garan?a 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 Álvarez 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 Becza?a as Roméo, Joseph Calleja as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Danielle De Niese as Despina in Così 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 Koená is Mélisande, 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), Iphigénie en Tauride (February 26), Lucia di Lammermoor (March 19), Le Comte Ory (April 9), Capriccio (April 23), Il Trovatore (April 30), and Die Walküre (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).
In the face of difficult economic conditions, the Met is sustaining its recent box office success as a result of new artistic and public initiatives. After four years without any across-the-board increases, ticket prices for the Met's 2010-11 season will go up an average of 6% for subscription tickets and 11% for individual tickets.
Even with these new prices, about one third of the seats in the house cost less than $100. The Met continues to offer reduced-price tickets for selected performances for full-time students, age 29 and under, at $25 for weekday performances and $35 for Friday and Saturday performances.
The Met's successful Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman Rush Ticket program will continue for a fifth season, thanks to the support of Met Board member Agnes Varis and her husband, Karl Leichtman. The program provides up to two tickets per customer for selected orchestra seats at the sharply discounted price of $20, available two hours before curtain time. The Met also reserves 50 Varis Rush tickets per performance for senior citizens. To date this season, the Met has provided 15,600 Varis Rush tickets to 78 performances.
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 François St.-Aubin, and lighting designer Étienne Boucher, the latter two in their Met debuts. Holger Förterer 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 König 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. Das Rheingold is produced in collaboration with Ex Machina and is a gift of Ann Ziff and the Ziff family, in memory of William Ziff.
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 René Pape takes on the iconic title role for the first time with the company. His portrayals of such roles as King Marke in Tristan und Isolde, Méphistophélès in Faust, Gurnemanz in Parsifal, and King Philip in Don Carlo have made him an audience favorite at the Met and won extraordinary critical acclaim. 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 Wögerbauer, 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. The production is a gift of Karen and Kevin Kennedy and Mr. and Mrs. Wilmer J. Thomas, Jr.
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 Nézet-Séguin, 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. Don Carlo is a co-production with London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, and is a gift of Mr. and Mrs. William R. Miller.
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. The production is presented with thanks to De Nederlandse Opera. It is a gift of Karen and Kevin Kennedy and Mr. and Mrs. Paul M. Montrone.
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 Flórez in the title role, Diana Damrau as Countess Adèle, and Joyce DiDonato as Isolier. Stéphane 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. Rossini captures both-with the most beautiful love music he ever wrote." The production is a gift of The Sybil B. Harrington Endowment Fund.
Die Walküre, 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 Brünnhilde, 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 König is Hunding. The Rheingold production team returns: Carl Fillion as set designer; François St.-Aubin as costume designer; and Étienne Boucher as lighting designer. The production is a gift of Ann Ziff and the Ziff family, in memory of William Ziff.
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 Renée 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 El?na Garan?a and Kate Aldrich in the title role, Nicole Cabell and Genia Kühmeier singing Micaëla for the first time at the Met, Brandon Jovanovich and Roberto Alagna reprising their passionate portrayals of Don José, and John Relyea singing his first Escamillo with the company.