Monday, September 21, 2015

The 2015-2016 season in preview

So we begin tonight. I've tried to write out all the multiple-night casts, but there may be one-offs not listed here.

Otello (new Bartlett Sher production)
Antonenko, Yoncheva, Lučić, Pittas / Nézet-Séguin (September-October)
Antonenko, Gerzmava, Lučić, Dolgov / Fischer (April-May)
Moshinsky's grand old production of this late-Verdi tragedy finally gives way to yet another Bart Sher show. But though Sher and Antonenko and Yoncheva (and indeed Nezet-Seguin) may not end up hitting their respective nails on the head, they'll almost certainly do basically well. On the other hand Zeljko Lucic, who's been inclined to duck the harder, villainous side of his characters, seems a boom-or-bust choice for Iago. Let's hope for boom tonight.

Goerke, Álvarez, Gerzmava, Morris / Carignani (September-October 3)
Lindstrom, Álvarez/Eyvazov, Crocetto/Gerzmava, Morris / Carignani (Late Oct-November)
Stemme, Berti, Hartig/Crocetto, Tsymbalyuk / Carignani (January)
Besides the above medley of casts in this famous, over-the-top Zeffirelli production, there are one-off performances by Jennifer Wilson and Hao Jiang Tian on November 12. Liu seems an odd debut role for 2010 Met Council winner Leah Crocetto, but the stand-and-sing show might suit her powerful, flexible soprano.

Il Trovatore
Lee, Netrebko, Zajick, Hvorostovsky, Kocán / Armiliato (September-October 3)
Lee/Palombi, Netrebko, Zajick, Bilyy, Kocán / Armiliato (October)
Giordani, Meade, Zajick, Hvorostovsky, Youn / Armiliato (February)
Plusses: spinto sensation Yonghoon Lee in a new part; Hvorostovsky's determination to sing di Luna between courses of brain cancer treatment; a pair of excellent Ferrandos; McVicar's always-welcome production. Question marks: Netrebko in Verdi again (to be fair, Leonora is not the brute sing that Lady Macbeth was); an older Zajick reprising the signature role of her prime (though she actually did better in 2012 than in the 2009 production premiere).

Anna Bolena
Radvanovsky, Costello, Abdrazakov, Barton, Mumford / Armiliato (September, Oct. 1&5, January)
Radvanovsky, Stayton, Abdrazakov, Nikolic/Barton, Mumford / Armiliato (Oct. 9&13)
The showdown that should have happened but didn't in Norma two years ago appears every night but one here, as Sondra Radvanovsky and Jamie Barton take up the parts of Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour. The rest of the cast basically returns from the original season for this first of Radvanovsky's three-queen season.

Botha, DeYoung, Westbroek, Mattei, Groissböck / Levine (October)
It's been over a decade since the last revival of this early Wagner opera (with DeYoung as Venus then too), and almost two decades since the last revival with Levine. Very strong cast this time, not least Peter Mattei as Wolfram.

Dyka, Giordano, Frontali/Lučić / Domingo (October)
Gheorghiu, Giordano, Lučić / Domingo (Oct. 29, Nov. 2)
Guleghina, Giordani, Lučić/Morris / Domingo/Colaneri (Nov. 6&11)
Dyka, Giordani, Morris / Colaneri/Domingo (November)
Monastyrska, Aronica, Vratogna / Colaneri (Nov. 25&28, Dec. 1)
Well, it looks like this is the revival that Domingo's way-below-par conducting will deflate this season. Too bad, though no tenor/soprano combinations really stand out either. (Wasn't too pleased with Monastyrska as Aida, but the nervous character of her sound could suit Tosca better.)

Gagnidze, Peretyatko, Costello, Leoson, Kocán / Heras-Casado (October-November)
Lučić, Peretyatko, Beczala, Leoson, Kocán / Heras-Casado (November)
Lučić, Sierra, Beczala/Borras, Herrera, Ivashchenko / Abbado (December)
Olga Peretyatko returns after a successful debut in Puritani, sharing the soprano part with 2009 Met Council winner Nadine Sierra. While Beczala and the two baritones have featured in this hit production before, these are Stephen Costello's first Dukes at the Met.

Lulu (new William Kentridge production)
Petersen, Reuter, Brenna, Graham, Groves, Grundheber / Levine (November-December)
Great cast (Marlis Petersen has already succeeded as Lulu), a second Kentridge production, Levine in the pit... Artistic triumph wouldn't be a surprise, but commercial success with this glorious score would be a real coup. (American tenor Daniel Brenna debuts as Alwa.)

La Bohème
Frittoli, Martínez, Vargas, Molnar, Lavrov, Van Horn, Del Carlo / Carignani (November-December)
Agresta/Hong, Phillips, Hymel/Borras, Kelsey, Pershall, Sim, Del Carlo / Ettinger (January)
Agresta, Pérez, Hymel, Molnar, Arduini, Tagliavini, Del Carlo / Ettinger (April-May)
Maria Agresta (who seems to be a dramatic coloratura) crosses the Atlantic for the first time to debut in Zef's evergreen Boheme (sharing Mimi with familiar veterans Barbara Frittoli and Hei-Kyung Hong). I'm not sure why Bryan Hymel is back in this, though: as great as he was in the heroic part of Enee, he's no lyric tenor, and last season's Rodolfos didn't flatter him at all. (Perhaps midseason reshuffling will bring us more Michael Fabiano appearances.)

Die Fledermaus
Phillips, Spence, Crowe, Pittas, Graham, Szot, Opie / Levine (December-January)
I'm not sure even James Levine's conducting and Susan Graham's Orlovsky can save this dog of a production, which conflates old Vienna with inter-war Weimar and various Yiddish tropes in a confused, unfunny mess. Perhaps if Susan Stroman (whose well-oiled machine of a Merry Widow was last season's surprise) gets dragged in to rewrite and re-direct the whole damn thing... Susanna Phillips wasn't so great in the original 2013-14 run, either - not sure whether it was the time (she was fantastic in her appearances last season) or the part.

La Donna del Lago
DiDonato, Barcellona, Brownlee, Osborn, Gradus / Mariotti (December)
Last season's cast with Brownlee in place of Florez. Could be fun.

Barber of Seville
Madore, Leonard, Portillo/Stayton, Lanchas, Pomakov / Walker (December-January)
Pershall, Costa-Jackson, Stayton, Lanchas, Pomakov / Walker (Dec. 29&Jan. 1)
If serious Rossini isn't to your taste, this comedic Rossini will be done in a "Holiday" (kids') edition this season, abridged in English.

Les Pêcheurs de Perles (new Penny Woolcock production)
Damrau, Polenzani, Kwiecień, Testé / Noseda/Walker (Dec. 31-February)
I haven't much enjoyed Mariusz Kwiecien's work of late, but he and Polenzani did, a decade ago, give us one of the great Cosi runs. Not sure Damrau's chilly/studied manner will suit the soprano part, either. Amanda Woodbury, a glorious Tebaldo in last season's Don Carlo revival, will get one show in place of Damrau on February 4.

Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci
Urmana, Lee, Maestri, Frittoli, Alagna, Gagnidze, Lavrov / Luisi (January-February)
Monastyrska, Lee/Tamura, Maestri, Frittoli, Alagna, Gagnidze, Pogossov / Luisi (February)
This excellent McVicar production from last season is revived with more stars... though I'm surprised Ricardo Tamura (whom I did like as Cavaradossi) got brought back after his Don Carlo nightmare this spring.

Maria Stuarda
Radvanovsky, van den Heever, Albelo, Carfizzi, Youn / Frizza (January-February)
This second installment of the Donizetti trilogy from McVicar was a great success on its debut. I don't doubt that Radvanovsky can command the ecstatic length of concentration that made DiDonato's triumph on the part, but her collaborators here are mostly different. Most notably, new tenor Celso Albelo makes his house debut as Leicester and Riccardo Frizza (in the pit for that Norma run) conducts.

Manon Lescaut (new Richard Eyre production)
Opolais, Kaufmann, Cavalletii, Sherratt / Luisi (February-March)
Finally, a really suitable part for Opolais - watching her youthful ambition try to play middle-aged nostalgia in La Rondine some seasons ago was painful. She and Kaufmann make a most promising lead pair for Puccini's dramatically brilliant modernizing of the old-French story.

Madama Butterfly
Hong, Giordano, Zifchak, Rucinski / Chichon (February-March)
Opolais, Alagna, Zifchak, Croft / Chichon (March-April 2)
Opolais, De Biasio, Zifchak, Croft / Chichon (April)
Baritone Artur Rucinski and conductor Karel Mark Chichon make their Met debuts among more familiar faces in this familiar production.

Le Nozze di Figaro
Petrenko, Hartig, Willis-Sørensen, Leonard, Pisaroni / Luisi (February-March)
Petrenko, Hartig, Majeski, Leonard, Pisaroni / Luisi (March)
Last season's season opener returns, with both of the impressive American substitute Countesses reappearing, Willis-Sorensen with a more emotionally responsive presence and Majeski with a grander voice. Luca Pisaroni (a notable Leporello and Figaro) finally gets promoted from servant to nobleman with a swap to the Count this time. I think I've (unintentionally) continued to miss Anita Hartig appearances, which should, barring illness, end here...

Don Pasquale
Maestri, Buratto, Camarena, Molnar/Lavrov / Benini (March)
Perhaps debuting soprano Eleonora Buratto can bring the humanity to Norina (and this opera) that Anna Netrebko never did. Ambrogio Maestri in the title role is inspired.

L'Elisir d'Amore
Kurzak, Grigolo, Plachetka, Corbelli / Mazzola (March)
Kurzak, Chang, Plachetka, Spagnoli / Mazzola/Colaneri (April)
The last revival of this recent Bart Sher production was stolen by Erwin Schrott's comic genius, but this editions may bring it more back to basics. Enrique Mazzola joins the parade of debuting conductors this season.

Roberto Devereux (new David McVicar production)
Radvanovsky, Garanča, Polenzani, Kwiecień / Benini (March-April)
McVicar's multi-season direction work and Radvanovsky's single-season traverse of these Donizetti operas in his productions finishes with this excellent cast.

Simon Boccanegra
Domingo, TBA/Haroutounian, Calleja, Furlanetto / Levine (April)
There's a good chance that, as in last season's Ernani, the combination of now-baritone Domingo and Levine (with two other first-class men) will provide the most classic Met experience of the season. As exciting a Verdi soprano as Lianna Haroutounian already is, I'm surprised that she hasn't been engaged for all the "TBA" dates as well. Unless Mattila or Harteros come back or something, I don't see any superior alternatives.

Elektra (new Patrice Chéreau production)
Stemme, Pieczonka, Meier, Owens / Salonen (April-May)
The cast should say it all, no? Perhaps this Elektra run will be as good as the last one was bad.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Shagimuratova, Kim, Appleby, Bliss, TBA, König, Stegmann / Levine (April-May)
Levine in Mozart with fresh principals and a big bass. What's not to like?

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Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.