Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The 2013-14 Met season announcement, annotated

There are a lot of really strange choices throughout (the solo recital -- not listed -- is probably the strangest), but any season with three Strauss shows including a revival of Wernicke's FroSch is one to look forward to. And, oh yes, James Levine returns. We hope.

Shows are listed, as ever, in order of first appearance. Single-show casts are omitted, though some are mentioned in the text. Moviecast casts are highlighted in bold.

Eugene Onegin (new Deborah Warner production)
Kwiecien, Netrebko, Volkova, Beczala, Kwiecien, Tanovitsky / Gergiev (September-October)
Kwiecien, Netrebko, Volkova, Beczala, Tanovitsky / Smelkov (October)
Mattei, Poplavskaya, Maximova, Villazón, Kocán / Vedernikov (November)
This opening night, a real director! Though Robert Carsen's great production will be missed, it did sort of reach its apex in its last incarnations. I'm not sure who in the administration keeps erroneously headlining Mariusz Kwiecien instead of Peter Mattei, but the former is perhaps a more plausible cold fish. I find it hard to believe that the patchwork voice I heard in October is going to sing much of a Lensky this November, but I'm sure there's some sort of backup plan.

Cosi fan Tutte
Phillips, Leonard, de Niese, Polenzani, Pogossov, Muraro / Levine (September-October, April)
Yu, Leonard, de Niese, Polenzani, Pogossov, Muraro / Levine (May)
No pressure, folks, but the last Levine run (with Polenzani!) of this may have been his best performances at the Met -- ever. Excellent youthful cast: Leonard and de Neise impressed even in the less intensely sincere revival a few seasons back.

The Nose
Szot, Popov, Lewis / Gergiev (September-October)
Szot, Popov, Lewis / Smelkov (October)
What a great show this was. Szot, Popov, and the conductors return from the first time.

Radvanovsky, Aldrich, Antonenko, Morris / Frizza (September-November)
Meade, Barton, Antonenko, Orlov/Morris (October 24/28)
No, seriously, when's the last season that opened with four really promising shows? Sondra Radvanovsky finally scales Mt. Norma -- with a pretty good supporting cast, though a new production would have been good for her on the dramatic stuff. In the alternate cast, Angela Meade goes for it as well... with a rather shorter career run-up. Meade's Adalgisa is fellow 2007 Met Council Finals winner (and "The Audition" co-star) Jamie Barton. I was really unimpressed by Barton on the day, but she seems to have turned into a heck of a no-holds-barred mezzo honker in the classic American style. This is, unfortunately, exactly the wrong casting for the lyric-soprano ingenue role of Adalgisa, but given that Dolora Zajick is the only Adalgisa this production has seen, it's also the exact mistake the Met loves making.

A Midsummer Night's Dream
Kim, Wall, DeShong, Davies, Kaiser, Simpson, Rose / Conlon (October)
Nice cast, though as far as this story goes I prefer the brevity of Ashton's dance version...

Two Boys (new Nico Muhly opera)
Zetlan, Lynch, Coote, Eddy, Forst, Appleby, Bolduc, Miller / Robertson (October-November)
After an apparently-succesful out-of-town tryout at ENO two seasons ago, Muhly and librettist Craig Lucas' opera hits the Met stage. Bart Sher and his usual crew are doing the production... for better or worse. I assume conductor David Robertson will be in the good form he showed in 2012's Billy Budd, not the very, very bad form he demonstrated in (on) Figaro.

Racette, Alagna, Gagnidze / Frizza (October-November)
Radvanovsky, Giordani, Gagnidze / Armiliato (December)
Would you believe a second moviecast of this originally-reviled show? Alagna and Gagnidze aren't quite Kaufmann and Terfel, but they're good in this, as is Racette the natural Puccinian. I'm not sure I'm ready to go see Marcelo Giordani again, but it's a nice regular run for Radvanovsky after Norma. Three one-off casts: TBA as Tosca November 16, Ricardo Tamura making his Met debut as Cavaradossi December 17 and Elisabete Matos as Tosca December 20.

Die Frau ohne Schatten
Schwanewilms, Goerke, Komlósi, Kerl, Reuter / Jurowski (November)
Meagan Miller (who sang Danae pretty well at Bard) has one performance as the Empress (November 16). The cast isn't really one to conjure with, but frankly, who cares? Vladimir Jurowski has a magnificent score in a magnificently sincere production and oh, that orchestra and its soloists (which his characteristic lyrical approach has, in the past, empowered)... The opportunity for huge success is all in his hands -- good decision not to entrust Luisi with this.
The bad news, for the public: no moviecast. The good news, for the public at the house: none of the moviecast-accomodating lighting changes that damaged Carsen's Onegin (in that show they were never reverted after the moviecast season). And yes, beg borrow or steal to be at the house for one or more of these -- especially if you haven't seen Herbert Wernicke's production masterpiece yet (though a lot of the striking stuff has since been cribbed by lesser shows).

Hvorostovsky, Kurzak, Polenzani, Volkova, Kocan / Heras-Casado (November-December)
The Met debut of young Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, who already has a NYC connection as principal conductor of the Orchestra of St. Luke's. The title part is a bit of a stretch for Hvoro... especially with the ugly sweater he'll have to wear in this production. Between Aleksandra Kurzak and Polenzani, this revival will also feature probably the nicest Gilda and Duke combo ever.

Der Rosenkavalier
Serafin, Garanca, Erdmann, Cutler, Ketelsen, Rose / Gardner (November)
Serafin, Sindram, Erdmann, Cutler, Ketelsen, Rose / Gardner (December)
Two one-off casts: Erin Morley as Sophie and Mario Chang as the Italian Singer on December 3, and TBA as Octavian on December 13. But more to the point... are Martina Serafin and Daniela Sindram going to carry off the show? (Serafin being Viennese is nice but hardly sufficient.) I suppose we'll get some hint when the former debuts as Sieglinde in this spring's Ring. Mojca Erdmann was good as Zerlina and not good as Susanna, but finally gets more of a high chirper's part to chew on (though yes, Sophie doesn't actually go that high).

Falstaff (new Robert Carsen production)
Maestri, Oropesa, Meade, Blythe, Johnson Cano, Fanale, Vassallo / Levine (December-January)
Alaimo, Oropesa, Meade, Blythe, Johnson Cano, Fanale, Vassallo / Levine (December)
One Carsen show (Onegin) departs, another appears... this time replacing an old Zef show. (Will there be protest booing? How about we just skip that this time...) This is pretty significant given how underappreciated that Onegin was to start.
The musical story is, if things go well (knock on wood), another re-visit by Levine to his 2005 glory. Of course, he had Bryn Terfel then, and neither Ambrogio Maestri nor Nicola Alaimo are likely to provide that scale of presence in the title role. Still, the female side of the cast is quite strong, and it's Levine... we hope.

The Magic Flute (holiday version)
Stober, Shagimuratova, Shrader, Gunn, Shenyang, Owens / Glover (December)
Stober, Lewek, Shrader, Gunn, Shenyang, Owens / Glover (December-January)
Jane Glover in the pit for this holiday kids' version in English.

Die Fledermaus (new Jeremy Sams production)
Phillips, Schäfer, Maltman, Fabiano, Szot, Costanzo / Fischer (New Year's Eve-January)
Phillips, Archibald, Maltman, Lewis, Szot, Costanzo / Fischer (February)
Phillips, Archibald, Maltman, Fabiano, Szot, Costanzo / Fischer (February)
The long, leaden, wit-free, barely-literate hash of politically correct tropes that was "The Enchanted Island" should have ended the Met careers of every person involved on its production (note: I don't mean the singers, who did what they could). Jeremy Sams -- the writer and principal offender in that wreck -- unfortunately managed to fail upward into directing this new Fledermaus. (Well, at least it isn't Shakespeare.) The cast -- featuring, for the second show of this season, Susanna Phillips -- is pretty good, though I fear Christine Schäfer plans to play Adele as bizarrely glumly as she did Cherubino, in which case she should be run out of town during rehearsals. I'm sure her alternate, Canadian soprano Jane Archibald, can do chirpy maid.

L'Elisir d'Amore
Netrebko, Vargas, Alaimo, Schrott / Benini (January-February 1)
One would have hoped that Netrebko's season-opening Tatyana could signal the end of the pretense that she's a bel canto soprano these days. Unfortunately not. Though if she must... this is pretty good company to do it in.

La Boheme
Kovalevska, Lungu, Calleja, Markov, Hopkins, Van Horn, Maxwell / Ranzani (January)
Hartig, Rowley, Grigolo, Cavalletti, Carfizzi, Testé, Cokorinos / Ranzani (March)
Hartig, Phillips, Grigolo, Cavalletti, Carfizzi, Testé, Cokorinos / Ranzani (April)
Frittoli, Rowley, Grigolo, Cavalletti, Carfizzi, Gradus, Maxwell / Ranzani (April)
So on the one hand you have the greatest lyric tenor in the world. On the other you have a former pop singer who fizzled badly in his first go at this long-perfected show. Which one do you put on the air?
Yeah, that's what I'd have thought too. Perhaps debuting soprano Anita Hartig is as great a Mimi as Maija Kovalevska was in 2008... perhaps Grigolo has even learned to phrase and engage with his peers. I'm certainly curious about Hartig, but -- especially since these are the only Joseph Calleja appearances of the season -- it's the first cast that holds the most interest. Conductor Stefano Ranzani has done pretty well here with Puccini, so he at least shouldn't wreck the show.

Madama Butterfly
Echalaz, DeShong, Hymel, Hendricks / Auguin (January-February)
Opolais, Zifchak, Valenti, Croft / Armiliato (April)
He, Zifchak, Hughes Jones, Croft / Luisi (May)
I don't suggest seeing Butterfly for the Pinkerton, but look, a Bryan Hymel sighting! Gwyn Hughes Jones, too. This is the debut of South-African-by-way-of-England soprano Amanda Echalaz. Also, not that it matters as much as, say, FroSch (in the first revival of which, incidentally, Philippe Auguin didn't impress), but the conducting lineup for this is really sort of bizarre.

Fleming, Zajick, Beczala, Relyea, Magee / Nézet-Séguin (January-February)
Yup, "Yannick"'s Met show this season is the Dvorak masterpiece. Renee Fleming showed some vocal decline in the 2009 revival, though the standard of her 2004 shows was ridiculously high. Love the production, and of course hearing Nézet-Séguin's pit work should be a treat.

Prince Igor (new Dmitri Tcherniakov production)
Abdrazakov, Rachvelishvili, Dyka, Semishkur, Petrenko, Kocán / Noseda (February-March)
The Met again taps its east-European cornucopia to cast the Borodin opera that hasn't been done by the company in nearly a hundred years. It has been done in the house, though, by the visiting Kirov/Mariinsky in 1998 (back when Anna Netrebko was a great young bel canto singer -- read the Betrothal in a Monastery and Ruslan & Lyudmila notices from then). That show, in a rather odd production of what was presumably the cutting-edge in musicological restoration then, was supposed to feature Ildar Abdrazakov's now-wife (Olga Borodina) as Konchakovna (she withdrew, but Larissa Diadkova impressed) and did feature his elder brother (Askar) as Konchak. This time the younger Abdrazakov has the title part, Met Carmen-for-life Anita Rachvelishvili gets the big mezzo aria, and the edition is yet a new recutting/restoration by the hands of the director Tcherniakov and the conductors (both Gergiev proteges) Gianandrea Noseda and Pavel Smelkov (who's in the pit February 21).

Werther (new Richard Eyre production)
Kaufmann, Garanca, Oropesa, Bizic, Summers / Altinoglu (February-March)
Eyre, the director of one of the current administration's rare unequivocal successes, returns with a rather different French piece. I have my doubts that Garanca will be a convincing object of domestic desire, but after Parsifal I'm certain a good director can shape Kaufmann's fragmentary seeking into a heck of a wounded tenor hero.

The Enchanted Island
de Niese, Chuchman, Graham, Daniels, Costanzo, Domingo, Pisaroni / Summers (February-March)
I'll repeat what I wrote above:
The long, leaden, wit-free, barely-literate hash of politically correct tropes that was "The Enchanted Island" should have ended the Met careers of every person involved on its production (note: I don't mean the singers, who did what they could).
DiDonato couldn't save the show the first time, and Graham isn't going to do it now. Avoid like crazy, especially if you like Shakespeare.

Hampson, Voigt, O'Neill, Hoare / Levine (March)
The third of Levine's planned return engagements. Thomas Hampson as Wozzeck!? The strange thing is that it's not a completely mind-boggling idea now. (But it mostly still is.)

La Sonnambula
Damrau, Camarena, Pertusi / Armiliato (March-April)
Too much to hope for a major recut of the offensive up-yours finale? Though the whole show is, thanks perhaps to Dessay's veto of a traditional setting, half-baked. In any case, what's missing in Diana Damrau's Gilda is also a fatal absence for an Amina: goodness.

Andrea Chenier
Álvarez, Racette, Lucic / Noseda (March-April)
Marcelo Alvarez -- despite good singing -- was rather too clever/committed for his own good this season in making his Gustavo so thoroughly unkingly, but this show and production should present no such off-the-rails temptations.

Byström, Kühmeier, Saccà, Volle, Del Carlo / Auguin (April)
The third Strauss revival of the season features Swedish sort-of-a-soprano Malin Byström and Austrian really-a-soprano Genia Kühmeier as the lead sisters, with debuting tenor Roberto Saccà as Matteo and debuting baritone Michael Volle as Waldner. I have the least faith in this Strauss offering: it takes more from the conductor than one might think, and Auguin has never at the Met shown himself able/willing to carry things along. But if Byström and Volle get the moral side of it, that should be something.

I Puritani
Peretyatko, Brownlee, Kwiecien, Pertusi / Mariotti (April-May)
I'm irrationally thrilled at the prospect of this revival. I have no idea whether debuting Russian soprano Olga Peretyatko will be any good (she's married to Mariotti, who of course is conducting) and the production will remain as bland as ever, but I somehow suspect that an actual bel canto soprano (which she may be) and a barnstorming tenor (which I'm pretty sure Brownlee is) can make much of this show in a way their predecessors certainly did not.

La Cenerentola
DiDonato, Flórez, Spagnoli, Corbelli, Pisaroni / Luisi
An all-star group is brought together for another moviecast. Only appearances for DiDonato and Florez this season.


  1. You're placing a lot of faith in the return of someone who, at this moment, can hardly even walk.
    You really expect him to be as good? Or perhaps the wild adoration of the audience will just make it seem that way.

  2. I don't think much 'shaping' of Kaufmann's Werther will be required. You only have to see the existing DVD to see that he is already a consummate Werther. I have followed Kaufmann for ten years and was there in Paris when he sang the role, and I think it is probably his best role ever. New York, you have a treat in store

  3. I'm trying to decide what section of Family Circle to subscribe to (premium, prime, balance, box). Any suggestions?


Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.