Preview of Met's 2016-2017 HD season

Metropolitan Opera’s 11th season of live HD telecasts announced!

While hoping that you live in the present moment and embrace it, rather than live a life of longing for the past or one of anticipation of the future, regardless, I’m thinking it’s timely here to reveal the lineup for the Met’s 2016-2017 season of live telecasts in High Definition. Then back to the present, which as I wrote this was windy, damp, grumpy, and gray, just May here, otherwise fine.

The upcoming season is marked by telecasts of four out of five of the Met’s exciting new productions and also several interesting revivals, some long past due. As before, OperaMetro will review most of the to-be-telecast performances from the Met’s stage prior to their telecast date to give readers a heads-up about what to expect, particularly what to look and listen for, useful, I trust, for making the most out of the experience. The few of the HD operas are not explicitly reviewed on OM are rather presented as timely informational alerts...seen the production recently, know the artists. Below the date and time (here in Eastern Standard) of the Saturday matinee live telecast performance are listed for each, but be aware, as I’m sure most are by this point, that the actual telecast date and time at your local theater may differ. Sometimes it’s not live, but rather an ‘encore,’ meaning a recording of the live matinee source performance. During this season, as last, OM posts both the time of the live telecast as well the actual telecast times for our local CT theaters.

Opening Night of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2016-2017 season is a new production of Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. With a running time of four hours, it is arguably the longest love story in opera history. That night marks the Met debut of Sir Simon Rattle at the helm of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the first opening night for Nina Stemme, whose Elektra and Turandot were high points of the 2015-2016 season.

  Nina Stemme as Isolde in the Met's  Tristan und Isolde

Nina Stemme as Isolde in the Met's Tristan und Isolde

Her Tristan is Stuart Skelton, with Ekaterina Gubanova as Brangäne, Evgeny Nikitin as Kurwenal, and the soulful René Pape as König Marke. The new production is by Mariusz Treliński, the man who brought us Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Bartok’s nightmarish Bluebeard’s Castle in 2015. The set designer is Boris Kudlička, lighting design is by Marc Heinz, with projections by Bartek Macias, each of whom worked with Treliński on the above double bill. The visual worlds they created for the duo were dark and foreboding: certainly Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde juxtaposes light and dark. We’ll see. The telecast date is Saturday, October 8, 2016, at 12:00 p.m. ET.

Next is Mozart’s Don Giovanni, showcased in the now-familiar Michael Grandage production, new in 2011. This revival stars Simon Keenlyside as the Don (his first at the Met), Rolando Villazón as Don Ottavio (welcome back! His first HD telecast performance), Adam Plachetka as Leporello, Hibla Gerzmava as Donna Anna, Malin Byström as Donna Elvira, and Serena Malfi as Zerlina. Fabio Luisi conducts. Don Giovanni is simply one of the world’s operatic treasures, as much as Mozart is himself. That’s all there is to it! The telecast date is Saturday, October 22, at 12:55 p.m.

The Metropolitan Opera premiere of Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin is on December 1, followed by the HD telecast on Saturday, December 10, at 12:55 p.m. The production is by Robert Lepage, whose Ring Cycle currently holds sway on the Met’s stage, in collaboration with Ex Machina. Sets and costumes are by Michael Curry, lighting design by Kevin Adams, and, new category here, lighting image design by Lionel Arnould. Also making her Met debut is conductor Susanna Mälkki. L’Amour de Loin is a haunting, dreamy score, a world of darkness pierced by the light of the memory and longing that characterizes the relationship between the distant lovers Clémence, sung by Susanna Phillips, and Jaufré Rudel, sung by Eric Owens, each reflecting and conversing at times with the Pilgrim, sung by Tamara Mumford, who serves as a go-between. L’Amour de Loin will be sung in its original French; the opera had its world premiere at Salzburg in 2000; the 2004 production by the Finnish National Opera is captured on a Deutsche Grammophon DVD; the Met’s new production is co-produced by L’Opéra de Québec.

The New Year begins with Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco, his first successful opera, which, despite a few rough edges here and there, shows signs of his future greatness. You’ve seen Ernani and Macbeth, yes? Plácido Domingo essays another baritone role as the title character; the fiendishly difficult role of the harsh and ambitious Abigaille is sung by Liudmyla Monastyrska, and the prophet Zaccaria is taken by Dimitri Belosselskiy. The production, which was new in 2001, is by Elijah Moshinsky; James Levine, who led the production’s premiere back then, will be at the helm of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. The telecast Saturday matinee is January 7, 2017, at 12:55 p.m.

  Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo in  Romeo et Juliette

Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo in Romeo et Juliette

Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette is also one big long love duet, happily not as long as Tristan und Isolde, though, sadly, neither ends happily. You know the story. Bartlett Sher’s La Scala production, which originally appeared at Salzburg in 2008 (and is available on DG DVDs), is recreated for HD audiences on Saturday, January 21, at 12:55. Vittorio Grigolo and Diana Damrau are at it again, following their hot collaboration in Massenet’s Manon in 2014. They are joined here by Elliot Madore as Mercutio and Mikhail Petrenko as Frère Laurent. Gianandrea Noseda conducts. The Salzburg production team is also from the original: sets by Michael Yeargan, costumes by Catherine Zuber, lighting by Jennifer Tipton, and choreography by Chase Brock.

The Met’s new production of Dvořák’s Rusalka showcases Kristine Opolais in the title role in the telecast of February 25, at 12:55 p.m. It’s the familiar tale of a water sprite longing to be human so as to experience the warmth of true love, only to find that we humans aren’t always so perfect, especially when the party is crashed by another woman. Relationship counseling being what it was in the once-upon-a-time of fairy tales, it’s little wonder this one doesn’t end happily either. The production is by Mary Zimmerman, with sets by Daniel Ostling, costumes by Mara Blumenfeld, lighting by T. J. Gerckens, and choreography by Austin McCormick. Ms. Opolais is joined by Brandon Jovanovich as the Prince, Katarina Dalayman as the Foreign Princess, Eric Owens as the Water Sprite, and Jamie Barton as the witch Ježibaba. Rusalka is a beautiful opera.

 Kristine Opolais as Rusalka

Kristine Opolais as Rusalka

Verdi’s La Traviata comes around again in the iconic Willy Decker production, new at the Met in 2011, brought over here because it really rocked the Salzburg Festival in the summer of 2005 with Rolando Villazón and Anna Netrebko (available on DG DVDs). Affectionately (or disparagingly) known as the ‘Clock Traviata,’ this revival stars the beautiful Sonya Yoncheva, who starred in last season’s telecast of Verdi’s Otello. Rising star tenor Michael Fabiano is her Alfredo; Thomas Hampson, who starred in that Salzburg premiere in ‘05, is Giorgio Germont. Nicola Luisotti, who is Music Director of the San Francisco Opera, conducts. The telecast date and time are Saturday, March 11, at 12:55 p.m.

Mozart’s opera seria Idomeneo, which premiered at the Met back in 1982, returns to the stage for its first HD appearance on Saturday, March 27, at 12:55 p.m. The production, sets and costumes are by the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, with lighting by Gil Wechsler. Matthew Polenzani essays the title role, with Alice Coote as his son Idamante, Nadine Sierra as Ilia, the Trojan Princess, Elza van den Heever as Elettra, Ilia’s rival for Idamante’s affection, and Alan Opie as Arbace. Idomeneo ends happily, thank goodness. Well, not for Elettra, who goes mad and storms off.

Tchaikovsky’s lovely Eugene Onegin, the Deborah Warner new production of which opened the 2013-2014 Metropolitan Opera season, is back with Anna Netrebko repeating her Tatiana, this time to the Onegin of Dimitri Hvorostovsky. Alexey Dolgov is Lenski, Elena Maximova is Tatiana’s sister Olga, and Štefan Kocán is Prince Gremin. Robin Ticciati, Music Director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera, conducts.

  Renée Fleming as the Marschallin, one of her signature roles, Elina Garanča as Octavian

Renée Fleming as the Marschallin, one of her signature roles, Elina Garanča as Octavian

Lastly, Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier returns to the Met stage in a new production by Robert Carsen. James Levine, who collaborated with Carsen in the new production of Verdi’s Falstaff, conducts; Levine is a master with this score.

The cast includes Renée Fleming as the Marschallin, one of her signature roles, Elina Garanča as Octavian, Erin Morley as Sophie, Günther Groissböke as the Baron Ochs, Marcus Brück as Faninal, Sophie’s father, and Matthew Polenzani as the Italian Singer. The sets are designed by Paul Steinberg, with costumes by Brigitte Reiffenstuel and lighting by Mr. Carsen and Peter Van Praet. The telecast date and time are Saturday, May 13, at 12:30 p.m.

There it is: next season!!

Photos: Kristian Schuller

Information about HD venues, operas, dates, times, casts, and tickets can be found on the Metropolitan Opera website www.metopera.org.

July 14, 2016, is when series subscriptions for the Met’s 2016-2017 HD season go on sale at the Quick Center at Fairfield University. The season schedule will be posted in-mid June at www.quickcenter.com, with details for ordering on the internet or by telephone. Tickets for the general public go on sale on Wednesday, July 20. The Ridgefield Playhouse sports another summer HD encore season as well as posting the Met’s fall HD season. Visit www.ridgefieldplayhouse.org for details. Or one may call the Quick Center Box Office at 203-254-4010 or 1-877-278-7396 or the Ridgefield Playhouse at 203-438-5795. Please check for times and dates of all HD telecast performances! OM listed only the live source performance dates and times! Ample free parking is available at both venues; please check their websites for directions to theaters and suggestions for fine regional dining. and the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield

Make it special. Looking forward to the next season.

Now back to the present. Enjoy the summer. JRS