The Met has announced it’s 2016/17 cinema season. There are again ten productions with what seems now to be a settled mix of a smattering of the Met’s new productions and a bunch of war horses that have already been broadcast. For myself, I’ve pretty much had it with watching opera this way. There aren’t that many productions in the program that I have any interest in and the combination of far too common technical problems, cheesey scripted and rehearsed “interviews” and over long intervals make it all rather tedious. For the operas I want to see I’ll wait for the DVD release. Still for those who are still interested, here’s the line up.
8th October 2016 – Wagner – Tristan und Isolde
This is a new production by Mariusz Treliński replacing the previous very forgettable one. The cast is outstanding; Nina Stemme as Isolde, Stuart Skelton as Tristan, Ekaterina Gubanova as Brangäne, and René Pape as King Marke. Perhaps best of all, Sir Simon Rattle conducts. May be the pick of the season.
22nd October 2016 – Mozart – Don Giovanni
Michael Grandage’s “timid” (NY Times), “disastrously dull” (NY Observer) production was described by Marius Kwieczien when first broadcast as “There’s nothing new in it so we get to do what we always do”. And now it’s not even new. You can read my review of the last time it was broadcast here. FWIW Simon Keenleyside sings the title role this time.
10th December 2016 – Saariaho – L’Amour de Loin
L’Amour de Loin finally makes it to the Met in a new Robert Lepage production that got a try out in Québec last summer. It’s heavy on the LED lights by the look of it. Could be quite spectacular. This is a very interesting opera and I will be looking for the DVD. Eric Owens, Susanna Phillips and Tamara Mumford sing with Susanna Mälkki conducting. It’s fitting that the first opera by a woman composer at the Met in over 100 years get’s a female conductor.
7th January 2017 – Verdi – Nabucco
Elijah Moshinsky’s venerable production gets a new lease of life with Met up and comers Placido Domingo in the title role and James Levine in the pit. An exercise in biblical archaeology?
21st January – Gounod – Roméo et Juliette
A new Bartlett Sher production with, we are told, “stunning costumes”. If you can get over that it does have Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo as the doomed lovers. And with Sher directing and Noseda conducting they surely are.
25th February 2017 – Dvoràk – Rusalka
This one has a great cast headed by Kristine Opolais in the title role. It’s a new production by Mary Zimmerman who has yet to impress me in opera. Mark Elder conducts. Who knows? Might be worth a punt.
March 11th – Verdi – La Traviata
It’s the Decker red dress production again. It’s really becoming a bit of an old tart. This is the second or third time it’s appeared in the HD series and of course the Salzburg DVD with Netrebko has been around even longer. Sonya Yoncheva and Michael Fabiano are the lovers with Thomas Hampson as Germont père. That could be an interesting combination. Worth seeing if you are the only opera goer on the planet who hasn’t yet seen this production.
March 25th – Mozart – Idomeneo
The JP Ponelle production is resurrected for this one. Levine conducts. Matthew Polenzani sings the title role with Alice Coote as Idamante, Nadine Sierra as Ilia and Elza van den Heever, arather odd choice, as Elettra. Watching Ponelle productions is like watching the early Monty Python episodes. They haven’t aged particularly well but they give one an insight into what was leading edge at the time.
22nd April – Tchaikovsky – Eugene Onegin
Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Anna Netrebko (who apparently has this role for life at the Met) are reunited in Deborah Warner’s rather forgettable production. If you really want to see Dima in Onegin might I suggest the DVD of the excellent Carsen production where he partners Fleming?
13th May – Strauss – Der Rosenkavalier
And talking of Carsen, he directs this new production. He’s a superb Straussian so I would have very high expectations. The real reason for this one though is it’s the Met’s farewell gift to Renée Fleming who has appropriately decided to bow out in one of her best roles. I’m not sure how I feel about Elīna Garanča as Octavian. She’s one of my favourite mezzos but this seems an odd role for her. Erin Morley sings Sophie and James Levine, inevitably, conducts. Die Zeit, die ist ein sonderbar Ding.
So, three, maybe four, interesting new productions which is better than the last couple of seasons and no Puccini. Even so, three productions that have already been broadcast seems a bit much. As I said, I’m going to wait for the DVDs but if I were in a mood to brave the Cineplex my top picks would be Tristan, Rosenkavalier and L’Amour de Loin.