Dig it! Here we go again!
The Met’s 2017-2018 Live in HD season will feature ten transmissions, each live from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House. All dates listed below are those of the source, the live Saturday afternoon matinee performance; all times are p.m. ET. However, though they can’t be any earlier, the dates and times of the HD showing in your neighborhood theater may differ. Always check local listings for dates, times, and encores.
A new production of Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma opens the HD telecast season with a stellar cast on October 7, 2017 at 12:55 p.m. ET. This noble opera occupies a special spot in the hearts and minds of many opera lovers. It marks the pinnacle of the 19th century bel canto style, along with Bellini’s I Puritani, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and a handful of other super star vehicles. Sondra Radvanovsky is Norma, a role she sang to great acclaim at the Met in 2013, as well as at leading opera houses around the world. Bel Canto mezzo Joyce DiDonato co-stars as Adalgisa, Norma’s colleague and rival, with tenor Joseph Calleja as Pollione and basso Matthew Rose as Oroveso. Carlo Rizzi conducts. Sir David McVicar directs the new production, with sets designed by Robert Jones, costumes by Moritz Junge, and lighting by Paule Constable. Norma is an IPO (Infrequently Performed Opera). Don’t miss it this time around. Best preparation for those who do not already know and love Norma: check out one or more of the complete recordings on CD starring, in the title role, Cecilia Bartoli or Maria Callas (stereo) or Joan Sutherland (either) or Montserrat Caballé. Live with this opera. You won't regret it.
The full-out Julie Taymor production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte is telecast in HD for the first time complete and in German on October 14, 2017 at 12:55. The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra is led by James Levine, who conducted the production’s premiere several years back. Soprano Golda Schultz, in her Met debut, sings Pamina, Kathryn Lewek is her evil mother, the Queen of the Night, tenor Charles Castronovo is the noble Prince Tamino, Markus Werba is the everyman birdcatcher Papageno, Christian Van Horn gives gravity to the wise Speaker, and basso René Pape is Sarastro. Set design for the Taymor production is by George Tsypin, costumes are by Julie Taymor, lighting by Donald Holder, puppet designers are Julie Taymor and Michael Curry, the choreographer is Mark Dendy.
In its Metropolitan Opera premiere, Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel appears on the HD screen on November 18 at 12:55, in a performance conducted by the composer himself. The Exterminating Angel is a co-commission and co-production with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Royal Danish Theatre; and Salzburg Festival, where the production premiered in 2016. The libretto is based on the screenplay by Luis Buñuel and Luis Alcoriza for the acclaimed 1962 Buñuel film El Ángel Exterminador. The libretto (in English) is by Tom Cairns, in collaboration with the composer, the production is also by Tom Cairns, sets and costumes are designed by Hildegard Bechtler, lighting design by Jon Clark, projections designed by Finn Ross. The cast includes Audrey Luna as Leticia Maynar, Amanda Echalaz as Lucia de Nobile, Sally Matthews as Silvia de Ávila, Sophie Bevan as Beatriz, Alice Coote as Leonora Palma, Christine Rice as Blanca Delgado, Iestyn Davies as Francisco de Ávila, Joseph Kaiser as Edmundo de Nobile, Frédéric Antoun as Raúl Yebenes, David Portillo as Eduardo, David Adam Moore as Col. Álvaro Gómez, Rod Gilfry as Alberto Roc, Kevin Burdette as Señor Russell, Christian Van Horn as Julio, John Tomlinson as Dr. Carlos Conde, and Kirsten Flagstad as Isolde.
Certainly an IPO. Suggested best preparation for this one: study the Buñuel film for plot and characters, and motives; study Met’s premiere performance of The Tempest for Adès’s general sound picture. Both are easily available on DVD. I do not know of a DVD of the Salzburg production of the opera. I could be mistaken about Flagstad…
Looking ahead to 2018 in HD, there will be a new production, thank heaven!, of Puccini’s Tosca starring Kristine Opolais and Vittorio Grigolo as the heroine Tosca and her lover Cavaradossi, with Bryn Terfel as the villainous Baron Scarpia. Andris Nelsons conducts this new staging of Puccini’s dramatic tragedy, directed by Sir David McVicar, with sets and costumes by John Macfarlane, lighting designed by David Finn, and choreography by Leah Hausman. Tosca is telecast on January 27, 2018 at 12:55.
Donizetti’s comic gem L’Elisir d’Amore, staged by Bartlett Sher and conducted by Domingo Hindoyan, stars Pretty Yende as the spirited Adina, with Matthew Polenzani as Nemorino, the simple peasant who falls in love with her. Davide Luciano makes his Met debut as the role of Adina’s arrogant fiancé, Belcore and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo sings the role of the magic potion-peddling Doctor Dulcamara. Domingo Hindoyan makes his company debut conducting. L’Elisir d’Amore is telecast on February 10, 2018 at 12:00.
A familiar HD event is Puccini’s La Bohème, the most-performed opera in Met history, coming on February 24, 2018 at 12:30. An exciting young cast stars in Franco Zeffirelli’s classic production, which was new in 1982. Sonya Yoncheva stars as Mimì opposite Michael Fabiano as the passionate writer Rodolfo. Susanna Phillips reprises the role of the flirtatious Musetta and Lucas Meachem sings the role of her lover, the painter Marcello. The cast also features Alexey Lavrov and Matthew Rose as Rodolfo and Marcello’s friends Schaunard and Colline and Paul Plishka as Benoit and Alcindoro in this performance, led by Marco Armiliato.
Rossini’s grand opera seria Semiramide is telecast for the first time in HD on March 10, 2018 at 12:55; Angela Meade makes her Met role debut as Semiramide, with Elizabeth DeShong as Arsace, the Commander of the Assyrian army, Javier Camarena as Idreno, an Indian king, Ildar Abdrazakov as the conspiring prince Assur, and Ryan Speedo Green as the high priest Oroe. The performance is conducted by Maurizio Benini. A bel canto pinnacle of its own, Semiramide was Rossini’s farewell gift to his country and arguably his grandest Italian opera. It’s also an IPO. Don’t miss it this time around. Good preparation is either the DVD from the 1990 telecast from the Met with June Anderson, Marilyn Horne and Samuel Ramey or the 1966 Decca recording on CD with Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne, conducted by Richard Bonynge. The good news: the DVD has the same Met production and also English subtitles (but my copy had no cast list, performance history or tracking information included); the CD set has complete libretto, track menu, and program notes.
A brand new Così fan tutte, Mozart, of course, arrives in HD on March 31, 2018 at 12:55. Phelim McDermott returns to the Met with a staging of Mozart’s sublime comedy on cozy colorful Coney Island in the 1950s. The cast features Amanda Majeski as the conflicted Fiordiligi; Serena Malfi as her sister, Dorabella; Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara as their feisty maid, Despina; Ben Bliss and Adam Plachetka as the sisters’ fiancés, Ferrando and Guglielmo; and Christopher Maltman as the cynical Don Alfonso. Sets are by Tom Pye, costumes by Laura Hopkins, lighting designed by Paule Constable; Così fan tutte is a co-production with the English National Opera.
A first time in HD is Verdi’s Luisa Miller on April 14, 2018 at 12:30. Met Music Director Emeritus James Levine conducts; the opera stars Sonya Yoncheva as a peasant girl Luisa opposite Piotr Beczala as Rodolfo in Verdi’s tragedy about a young woman who sacrifices her own happiness in an attempt to save her father’s life. The cast also stars Plácido Domingo as Miller, Luisa’s father, with Olesya Petrova as Federica, Alexander Vinogradov (in his Met debut) as Walter, and Dmitry Belosselskiy as Wurm, they being the ruthless men determined to tear Luisa and Rodolfo apart. The production is by Elijah Moshinsky, sets and costumes by Santo Loquasto, lighting by Duane Schuler. Luisa Miller has not been seen at the Met since 2006.
Lastly, Massenet’s magical Cendrillon, which makes its Metropolitan Opera premiere this season, is telecast on April 28, 2018 at 12:55. It’s a Cinderella story… Joyce DiDonato adds another role to her Met repertory as the title character, a role she has sung to acclaim at the Grand Teatre del Liceu, Santa Fe Opera, and Royal Opera, Covent Garden. The cast also stars Alice Coote as Prince Charmant, Stephanie Blythe as the evil stepmother Madame de la Haltière, Kathleen Kim as the fairy Fée, and Laurent Naouri as Pandolfe. The conductor is Bertrand de Billy. The famous Laurent Pelly, whose credits at the Metropolitan Opera include Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment and Massenet’s Manon, directs this new production and also designed the costumes. Sets are designed by Barbara de Limburg, lighting is designed by Duane Schuler. Massenet’s Cendrillon is produced in association with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London; Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona; Théâtre Royal de La Monnaie, Brussels; and Opéra de Lille. This production, incidentally, was first performed at The Santa Fe Opera. Cendrillon is an IPO, as are many other quite respectable Massenet operas. Don’t miss it this time around! Best preparation: A Virgin Classics DVD of the Covent Garden production with DiDonato and Coote is easily available; a CD version of the complete opera stars Met favorite Frederica von Stade. A soft dreamy introspective opera, it is. Looking forward to it immensely.
Photos: Paola Kudaki (Norma), Monika Rittershaus (Exterminating Angel), Martin Smith (Cosi) and Ken Howard (Cendrillon)
Tickets for the 10 transmissions in the 2017-18 Live in HD season will go on sale on July 19, 2017 in the U.S. and Canada. Met Members are given priority seating before tickets are made available to the general public. For local start times and rebroadcast information, please visit www.metopera.org/season/in-cinemas/. Traveling? Or friends abroad? International ticket sales dates and details on ordering tickets for the 2017-18 Live in HD series vary from country to country and will be announced separately by individual distributors.
The tingle hasn’t ceased from the last Rosenkavalier, and here I am writing this…wonderful, the whole thing is just wonderful.
Have a lovely festive summer. Stay cool!