Wednesday, February 20, 2019


Next season at the Met brings a handful of new shows and, more notably, a new schedule point: Sunday afternoon. So far Sunday perfomances look like rescheduled Mondays, and start-of-the-week gaps (both Monday and, at times, Tuesday) are interspersed through the year.

As usual, I've left some one-show-only combinations out below.

Porgy and Bess (new James Robinson production)
Owens, Blue, Schultz, Moore, Ballentine, Walker, Green / Robertson (opening night to October)
Owens, Blue, Brugger, Moore, Ballentine, Walker, Singletary / Robertson (October, January)
Owens, Blue, Schultz, Moore, Ballentine, Walker, Singletary / Robertson (Jan 28, Feb 1)
Like many Met premieres of the Gelb era, this show - directed by newcomer (and Opera Theatre of St. Louis Artistic Director) James Robinson with Bart Sher's usual set and costume designers - has already run at ENO and in Amsterdam. Still, it's the first Porgy and Bess at the Met in ages (even City Opera's latest performance was almost two decades ago) and the first opening night of real note in a while.

Oropesa, Fabiano, Bosi, Ruciński, Youn / Benini (September-October)
For the first time I can remember, both Massenet's Manon and Puccini's own adaptation of the Prevost novel - Manon Lescaut - appear in the same season. Both productions are recent-ish failures, but it's possible that the visual delicacy erased by Laurent Pelly can be offset by charm and delicatezza in the lead - qualities also missing in this staging's previous incarnations. Lisette Oropesa has had that even from her 2005 Met Council Finals win... Between this and Traviata, are we fortunate enough to see the house valuing a different sort of singer?

Domingo, Netrebko, Polenzani, Abdrazakov / Armiliato (September-October)
Lučić, Netrebko, Polenzani, Abdrazakov / Armiliato (October)
As much as Anna Netrebko overpowered the lighter roles she sang for too much of the last two decades, she still had not quite the weight for Lady Macbeth in 2014 (rapturous notices notwithstanding). Still, the rest of the cast(s) is excellent and Adrian Noble's production is one of the better ones. Italian soprano Anna Pirozzi, who seems to specialize in these really big roles, has a one-off debut on October 1.

Goerke, Buratto, Aronica, Morris / Nézet-Séguin (October)
Goerke, Buratto, Aronica, Morris / Armiliato (October)
Stemme, Gerzmava, Berti, Testé / Rizzi (April)
Zeffirelli's most over-the-top show gets some starry treatment. I've skipped this show for ages (there was similar casting in 2015-16), but I suspect Berti - who's had a good track record in forceful stuff - is more likely to deliver as Calaf than Aronica.

Madama Butterfly
He, DeShong, Pretti, Szot / Morandi (October)
He, DeShong, Carè, Szot / Morandi (November)
He, DeShong, Carè, Domingo / Morandi (November)
Martínez, Zifchak, Carè, Brück / Morandi
The two debuting Italian tenors are the most notable part of this revival.

Orfeo ed Euridice
Barton, Hong, Park / Wigglesworth (October-November)
The final day of this revival will be within a week of the 35th anniversary of Hei-Kyung Hong's Met debut. I'm not sure Jamie Barton is ready to carry the lead, but I've wanted to see Hyesang Park graduate from bit parts since she and Kang Wang starred in a most memorable Juilliard/Lindemann Sonnambula a few years back.

La Boheme
Pérez, Kulchynska, Polenzani, Bizic, Zhilikhovsky, Park / Armiliato (October-November)
Agresta, Phillips, Alagna, Ruciński, Madore, Van Horn / Armiliato (January)
Pérez, Rowley, Calleja, Álvarez, Pogossov, Nazmi / Villaume (April-May)
More tenor star power than usual. Ailyn Perez is not only an excellent lyric soprano in general but the only natural fit for Mimi here in a decade; Maria Agresta, though possessed of nice softer sounds, wasn't the most imaginative when I saw her in the role in 2016 (though the rest of the cast didn't help).
After Hong's Euridices (above), she has one scheduled Mimi on November 14 alongside Jacqueline Nichols as Musetta.

Akhnaten (new Phelim McDermott production)
Costanzo, Lárusdóttir, Bridges / Kamensek (November-December)
Another ENO share, this time with LA Opera, taking McDermott back to his most successful Met show (Satyagraha). Neither Phillip Glass nor countertenors are to my taste, but I'm sure there are enough partisans for a succès d'estime.

Le Nozze di Figaro
Pisaroni, Sierra, Phillips, Plachetka, Arquez / Manacorda (November-December)
Plachetka, Müller, Hartig, Kwiecien, Crebassa / Meister (February)
A bunch of debuts here are mixed with Plachetka swapping between the male lead roles. Cornelius Meister, incidentally, is proving himself a natural Mozartean in this season's Don Giovanni.

The Queen of Spades
Antonenko, Davidsen, Maximova, Diadkova, Golovatenko, Markov / Petrenko (November-December)
I'm not sure Aleksandrs Antonenko has the internal forcefulness to make the most of Tchaikovsky's dramatic masterpiece, but the debuts of young Norwegian next-big-thing soprano Lise Davidsen and Russian (by way of Liverpool and Oslo) conductor Vasily Petrenko are interesting enough.

Der Rosenkavalier
Nylund, Kožená, Schultz, Groissböck, Polenzani / Rattle (December-January)
Van Kooten, Brower, Schultz, Groissböck, Polenzani / Rattle (December 28)
The production is a misfire, the Octavian seems quite miscast, and Simon Rattle isn't the first conductor who comes to mind for Strauss, but perhaps Camilla Nylund or the less-known Americans in the one-off can carry the day.

The Magic Flute (abridged version in English)
Harvey, Portillo, Lewek, Hopkins, Rosel, Carfizzi, Robinson / Koenigs (December-January)
Fang, Portillo, Lewek, Hopkins, Rosel, Carfizzi, Howard / Koenigs (December)
Fang, Groves, Park, Liverman, Rosel, Croft, Howard / Koenigs (January)
The usual kids' show. Probably the first cast is best.

Wozzeck (new William Kentridge production)
Mattei, van den Heever, Mumford, Ventris, Siegel, Staples, Van Horn / Nézet-Séguin (December-January)
Kentridge and Luc De Wit's 2010 Nose was an electric, illuminating hit; their 2015 Lulu was a trivializing, DOA mistake. This Berg opera starts in a much less coherently-ordered world, so perhaps Kentridge's one trick will suit.
And oh yes: I wouldn't be surprised if he makes it work, but Peter Mattei - the Don Giovanni of our lifetimes - is about the most bizarre choice imaginable for Wozzeck.

NYE Netrebko Gala
Netrebko, Polenzani, Eyvazov / Nézet-Séguin (December 31)
Three Puccini selections, all starring Anna Netrebko: Act I of Boheme, Act I of Tosca, and Act II of Turandot. This sort of show-off evening seems to me a much more suitable gala choice than the premiere of some new production that may or may not be any good.

La Traviata
Kurzak, Popov, Kelsey / Chichon (January-February)
Oropesa, Grigolo, Salsi / De Billy (February-March)
Unsurprisingly, the Michael Mayer production that debuted this season returns immediately with multiple casts.

La Damnation de Faust
Hymel, Garanča, Abdrazakov / Gardner (January-February)
Spyres, Garanča, Abdrazakov / Gardner (February)
The premiere of this show over a decade ago was the first big sign of how dramatically empty Robert Lepage's Ring would turn out. Still, Bryan Hymel and Michael Spyres in French stuff are something.

Agrippina (new David McVicar production)
DiDonato, Rae, Lindsey, Davies, Rock, Rose / Bicket (February-March)
Yes, it's a share with La Monnaie, but having the Met do a new Handel production for you is, before Joyce DiDonato premieres this show, something only Renee Fleming has managed since the '80s.

Così fan tutte
Car, Malfi, Bliss, Pisaroni, Stober, Finley / Bicket (February-March)
Serena Malfi and Ben Bliss return from last year's debut cast. Harry Bicket is more reliably good conducting Handel, but Robertson didn't set the highest bar last time.

Der Fliegende Holländer (new François Girard production)
Terfel, Kampe, Skorokhodov, Portillo, Selig / Gergiev (March)
Disappointing followups to impressive debut productions aren't rare, and Dutchman is a more direct piece than Parsifal, but this seems the most promising new production as such. I'd be surprised if the musical side - with gone-for-a-while Bryn Terfel and Valery Gergiev alongside debuting veteran soprano Anja Kampe - matches the explosive triumph Michael Volle, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and Amber Wagner put together in the old production two years back, but it's possible.

La Cenerentola
Erraught, Camarena, Luciano, Muraro, Van Horn / Gaffigan (March-April)
Mezzo Tara Erraught sang well but was unbearably sitcommy as Nicklausse in her 2017 Met debut; perhaps she'll be a better fit for this more comedic part. Camarena is always a pleasure in this rep.

Beczala, DiDonato, Garifullina, Dupuis / Nézet-Séguin (March)
The premiere of this production was a big triumph for tenor Jonas Kaufmann that made a very small case for the opera itself. I suspect Joyce DiDonato's Charlotte will make for a less lopsided presentation (no matter how well Piotr Beczala sings), and Nézet-Séguin in French rep has been terrific. Aida Garifullina, incidentally, was a delight as Zerlina in this winter's Don Giovanni and I expect as much of her Sophie here.

Netrebko, Mavlyanov, Gagnidze / de Billy (March-April)
Netrebko, Jagde, Volle / de Billy (April)
Rowley, Jagde, Gagnidze / de Billy (April)
American tenor Brian Jagde debuted five years ago in a memorable Arabella revival, but this is his first lead role here. The other players should be pretty familiar from this season and last.

Simon Boccanegra
Álvarez, Pérez, Calleja, Azizov, Belosselskiy / Rizzi (April)
On the one hand, there are question marks. It will have been almost a dozen years between Met performances for Carlos Alvarez when this revival begins, though he's certainly been busy elsewhere; Ailyn Perez has never sung a Verdi part here (though again she's done much elsewhere); Dmitry Belosselskiy is good enough but not the grand old man we're used to as Fiesco; Carlo Rizzi has had his moments in Puccini but not so much in Verdi. On the other hand, Joseph Calleja in Verdi is always a treat and the opera itself, like Clemenza, always seems to turn out for the best at the Met.

Maria Stuarda
Damrau, Barton, Costello, Filończyk, Pertusi / Benini (April-May)
Unexpected match of piece and performers - and I'm not sure the vocal contrast between Mary and Elizabeth isn't too great - but I think the title part plays to Diana Damrau's musical strengths.

Manon Lescaut
Yoncheva, Álvarez, Azizov, Sherratt / Farnes (April-May)
One can't do much about Eyre's gross misreading of the structure of Puccini's creation, but perhaps, four years on, one of the house's assistant directors can add the personenregie (both in interaction and development) lacking in the initial run.

Káťa Kabanová
Phillips, Mack, Zajick, Černoch, Margita, Appleby, Tomlinson / Koenigs (May)
I'm not sure what's odder: that this opera is being revived at all or that Susanna Phillips, who's stuck pretty closely to the core German-Italian rep, is starring in it. But good on both parts! Kat'a was probably the least congenial Janacek lead for Karita Mattila, the driver for his works' airing at the Met of late, so seeing a very different sort of soprano take the part is welcome.

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Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.