The Metropolitan Opera 2019-2020 HD season

The Metropolitan Opera’s first HD telecast…certainly not the same thing as the first ‘telecast’ of an opera live from the Met’s stage. This event was before most of my readers were born, I’ll bet…but I digress: the Met’s first HD telecast was in the fall of 2006. Now follows the fourteenth season of the Met in HD, sure to add to the long list of moving and memorable experiences we’ve had along the way.

Joyce DiDonato as Agrippina toasts the new HD season

Joyce DiDonato as Agrippina toasts the new HD season

As in previous previews, OperaMetro lists below the date and time of the to-be-telecast live performance on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center. As it turns out, this season all of the telecasts will begin at 12:55 p.m. on the Saturday afternoons listed below. Please note: your theater of choice may air the live performance also an encore, same day or sometimes only as an ‘encore’ on a different day and/or different time altogether. Always check your local listings!

The HD season opens on October 12 with Turandot, Puccini’s last and grandest opera in one of the Met’s grandest productions. Director/designer Franco Zeffirelli spared no detail in this one! The performance is conducted by the Met’s Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin; American soprano Christine Goerke essays the ice Princess Turandot; her Brünnhilde in the complete Ring Cycles this past spring were wildly acclaimed. Roberto Aronica sings Calaf; Nessun dorma, Calaf’s signature aria in Act III, is pretty close to the top of the list of ‘arias well known even by people who haven’t yet been to a live opera at the Met.’ Eleonora Buratto is Liu, a slave girl; veteran bass James Morris sings Timur, Calaf’s blind father. I repeat, it’s grand…beyond grand.

The Gambling Scene in the final act of Massenet’s  Manon

The Gambling Scene in the final act of Massenet’s Manon

The by-now familiar style of director and costume designer Laurant Pelly, teamed with set designer Chantal Thomas, is evident in their conception of Manon, Jules Massenet’s opera based on the Prévost novel from the mid-18th century. Soprano Lisette Oropesa triumphantly returns to the Met to star in the title role. She is joined by Michael Fabiano, who sings Manon’s faithful, but let’s face it, naïve lover Des Grieux. Artur Ruciński sings Lescaut, Manon’s cousin (in this operatic setting); Carlo Bosi sings Guillot de Montfontaine, the elderly scallywag who wishes to have Manon for himself; Brett Polegato is de Brétigny, the not-much-better fellow whose same wish came true. Maurizio Benini conducts the telecast performance, which is October 26.

The third HD telecast in the series, on November 9, is also a revival: Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, served up in Anthony Minghella’s now iconic staging. The production was unveiled on Opening Night, 2006, the first season under Peter Gelb. At the Open House prior to Opening Night, the late Anthony Minghella spoke to the audience…but I digress again. Hui He stars as Cio-Cio-San, the geisha who marries the American Naval officer B.F. Pinkerton for love, but also to escape poverty and exploitation. Pinkerton is sung by Andrea Carè: true to the curse of many tenor roles in opera, Pinkerton is in the relationship mainly for pleasure, but, I have to think, he actually loves Cio-Cio-San, though, it turns out, he’s less serious about the long term relationship, even sharing with Sharpless, the Consul, that when he returns to the States he will get himself a real American bride. Adding yet another to his ‘roles sung at the Met, Plácido Domingo sings Sharpless; Elizabeth DeShong is Suzuki, Cio-Cio-San’s companion. Pier Giorgio Morandi conducts.

Anthony Roth Costanzo sings the title role of  Akhnaten

Anthony Roth Costanzo sings the title role of Akhnaten

On November 23, the Met telecasts Philip Glass’s Akhnaten, a new production this season and the third Glass opera in the Met’s repertory. Phelim McDermott, whose Satyagraha was enormously successful, I loved it, returns to direct; Karen Kamensek makes her Met debut as conductor; Tom Pye designed the sets. Anthony Roth Costanzo sings the role of the Pharoah Akhnaten who calls for conceptualization and worship of a single god, not a committee of gods. J’Nai Bridges sings Nefertiti, Akhnaten’s bride and Disella Lárusdóttir is Queen Tye, Akhnaten’s mother. Choreographed stage action by the Gandini Juggling Company fits Glass’s music. This production also was staged at L.A.Opera, Improbably, and the English National Opera.

Alban Berg’s Wozzeck, one of the great operas of the 20th century, is the next telecast (January 11, 2020) in a new production by William Kentridge, whose Lulu (also by Berg) and The Nose (by Dimitri Shostakovich) dazzled audiences. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts; Peter Mattei stars as Wozzeck, the marvelous Elza van den Heever is Marie, and Tamara Mumford is Margret. Among Wozzeck’s tormentors are Christopher Ventris as the Drum-Major, Gerhard Siegel as the Captain, and Christian Van Horn as the Doctor. Luc De Wit co-directs the production; Sabine Theunissen designed the sets. As is his wont, Kentridge provides animated charcoal drawings and projections of various related and unrelated things such as maps, crashing airplanes, battlefields, and so on.

Peter Mattei stars in the title role of Berg’s  Wozzeck

Peter Mattei stars in the title role of Berg’s Wozzeck

A colorful new production of George Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess opens the 2019-2020 Metropolitan Opera season on September 23, 2019, but later comes to the HD screen on February 1. After many successes on Broadway, George and Ira Gershwin strove to write something much bigger: the result was Porgy and Bess in 1935. The arias, the music from the opera have become a central part of America’s musical fabric. The great basso Eric Owens sings Porgy, Angel Blue sings Bess, Denyce Graves sings Maria, Latonia Moore is Serena, Frederick Ballentine is a spirited Sportin’ Life, Alfred Walker is the devil-like Crown, and Golda Schultz is Clara. David Robertson conducts. The production is by James Robertson, with sets by Michael Yeargan, costumes by Catherine Zuber, Projections by Luke Halls. Porgy and Bess (sung in English, of course) is co-produced by the English National Opera and Dutch National Opera.

From the early 20th century of Porgy and Bess we drop back to the decaying Roman Empire around the year 50, as in 5-0, dramatized in George Frideric Handel’s Agrippina, the opera he composed in the early 18th century, 1709 to be exact, but in this new production the time is set more or less in the 21st century…got that? Agrippina is one of Handel’s early operas, composed during his apprenticeship in Italy. It’s performed this season for the first time at the Met and the first time in HD! The marvelous Joyce DiDonato is the Empress Agrippina, joined by Brenda Rae as Poppea, Kate Lindsey as young Nerone, Iestyn Davies as Ottone, and Matthew Rose as the Emperor Claudius. Harry Bicket conducts. The production of Agrippina is by Sir David McVicar, who revisits his successful staging at the Monnaie in Brussels back in 2000.

Girard’s conception of Wagner’s  Flying Dutchman

Girard’s conception of Wagner’s Flying Dutchman

Wagner’s stormy Der fliegende Holländer is brought new to the Met’s stage by Francois Girard, whose blood-soaked Parsifal was a tour de force new production in 2013, which was the 200th anniversary of Wagner’s birth. This is a great opera! Conductor Valery Gergiev returns to the Met to lead an all-star cast capped by Sir Bryn Terfel as the Dutchman, Anja Kampe is Senta, Franz-Josef Selig is Daland, Senta’s Father, Sergey Skorokhodov is Erik, a hunter who loves Senta, and Mihoko Fujimura is Mary, Senta’s companion. The production is shared with L’Opéra de Québec and the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam.

Sir David McVicar’s thrilling production of Puccini’s Tosca returns to HD on April 11 with my darling Anna Netrebko in the title role. She is loved by Brian Jagde as Cavaradossi, and pursued by the intense Michael Volle as Baron Scarpia. Bertrand de Billy conducts.

Last, but not least, is Sir David McVicar’s production of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda on May 9, its second telecast in HD, this time starring Diana Damrau as the condemned Queen of Scotland and Jamie Barton as the powerful Queen Elizabeth. Stephen Costello is Mary’s lover Leicester, Andrzej Filończyk is Cecil, and Michele Pertusi is Earl Talbot.

This is a varied and awesome HD season! Tickets for the ten telecasts for the 2019-2020 HD season go on sale Wednesday, July 17, 2019, in the USA and Canada. Met Members are offered priority access to tickets before the general public. International ticket sales dates and details on ordering tickets vary from country to country. Please check with your individual distributor.

OperaMetro reviews of performances of many of these operas at the Met preceding their HD telecasts. All are posted on this page.

Summer! Dig it!