New York’s Metropolitan Opera is a vibrant home for the world’s most creative and talented artists working in opera, including singers, conductors, composers, orchestra musicians, stage directors, designers, visual artists, choreographers, and dancers. Each season is magical here. Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts six productions this season. The Met’s wonderful new season for 2020-2021 is full of amazing talent and incredible productions. Something for everyone to look forward to.
History of the Metropolitan Opera
At the focal point of Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts on the Upper West Side sits the majestic Metropolitan Opera House, where some of the world’s most prestigious singers, dancers and actors have graced the stage. The Metropolitan Opera came into existence after a group of New York City millionaires had a difficult time trying to secure box seat tickets at New York’s Academy of Music. The millionaires, wanting good seats to the latest theatre and performing arts, decided to start their own operahouse in New York City. Their intention was to make a bigger and better performing arts alternative than what was already offered at the Academy of Music. During a time when America was growing and full of innovation, the group of millionaire entrepreneurs started what would become one of the most well-known opera houses in the world. The Met first purchased land in 1880 and within three years, singers and an orchestra had been hired, sets were built, costumes were designed and the general management and building designers had been hired. In 1883, the opening night performance was Gounod’s “Faust,” an Italian opera performed by an entirely Italian opera company, with the exception of two Americans. Everything was performed that night in Italian.
During the early years of the 20th century, the Met went through a number of changes, including several transitions between Italian, German and French operas, before finally settling on performing operas in its own native language. In 1910, the MetropolitanOpera was the first opera house to debut an American opera, “The Pipe of Desire,” and this marked the first time an opera was performed in English at the Met.
The Metropolitan Opera has had a long history of utilising technology to expand the reach of the performing arts. Between 1901 and 1903, the Met recorded some of the first live recordings by using an Edison cylinder machine to record performances from high above the main stage. Although these early recordings were done years before the Met began broadcasts of its performances, it helped set the tone for future uses of technology at the Met. The first full Metropolitan Opera radio broadcast was on Christmas Day in 1931 and was the first step in what has become a tradition for the opera house. The Met’s radio broadcasts are currently heard in 42 countries and their series is the longest running classical music 3 has its own station on satellite radio that broadcasts both live and rare performances.
A cultural institution steeped in history, the original opera house was opened in 1883, but was eventually deemed inadequate for such large-scale performances. The Lincoln Centre presented the opportunity for a new home, and some of the art scene’s most iconic moments have happened there since its first show in 1966.
To say that The Met is America’s most important opera company would be to state the obvious. Any diva worth her salt has sung here: Maria Callas, Leontyne Price, Joan Sutherland, Renata Tibaldi and, of course, the company’s patron saint, Beverly Sills. That lofty level of talent extends offstage, too. Conductors such as James Levine and Andre Previn possess their own celebrity status, directors like Franco Zefferelli and Julie Taymor enhanced already stellar reputations with richly conceived interpretations and world-renowned painters such as Chagall and Hockney have turned set design into high art.
Highlights of 2020-2021 Season
Yet again, there are a plethora of stars appearing in the 2020- 2021 season at the Met and a wonderful selection of operas – something to please everyone. Below are just a few of the many highlights.
Performances commence at 7.30pm and 3pm for matinees (m) unless otherwise stated.
Another of Verdi’s classics! Egypt is at war with Ethiopia. Aida, daughter of the Ethiopian king, has been captured by the Egyptians. Secretly, she loves an Egyptian general, Radamès, who returns her love. When Radamès is selected to lead a renewed assault against the enemy, Aida is forced to choose between betraying her country and betraying her heart. Soprano Anna Netrebko and mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili reprise their incendiary partnership as Aida and Amneris with Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting. Netrebko is performing on the Sep 21, 24, 27 and Oct 1, 4, 10 dates only.
Dates: 21, 24, 27, Sep 2020, 1,4, 10, 13, 17, 20, 24 Oct 2020, 24, 27 Nov 2020, 3, 6, 12 Dec 2020.
An epic opera of grand dimensions, Il Trovatore was composed in1853 by Giuseppe Verdi. It premiered on Jan. 19, 1853 in Teatro Apollo, Rome, Italy and takes place in a 15th-century Spanish town. It has a complex narrative as there are three intertwining plots but the opera is a real gem. For this hot-blooded tale of love, jealousy, and retribution, Verdi created music that truly bursts with excitement! Amazing soprano Sonya Yoncheva stars in the role of Leonora for the Oct 30, Nov 4, 7 and 14, 18, 22, 26 29 May dates.
Dates: 30, Oct 2020, 4, 7, 10, 14, 18, 21 Nov 2020, 14, 18, 22, 26 29 May 2021.
The Fiery Angel
Moving from tavern to convent, against a backdrop of spiritualism and exorcism, collective hysteria and burlesque humour, The Fiery Angel is a powerful piece that has it all, bordering the very limits of expressionism. Inspired by the symbolist novel of the same name by Valery Bryusov, this opera is Sergei Prokofiev’s most striking operatic masterpiece. Svetlana Sozdateleva stars as Renata.
Dates: Nov 12 – Dec 5 2020
Paris, 1840. On a snowy Christmas Eve, a starry-eyed poet meets a poor dress-maker over candlelight, and instantly falls in love. At first the good times roll. But will their happiness last, or does the bohemian lifestyle come at a price? With some of the most memorable music in opera, a night at La Bohème will lift every bodies’ soul and break every heart. The fantastic Angel Blue stars as Mimì on the following dates: 21,24, 29 Jan 2021 and 10,13, 17 Apr 2021.
Dates: 21, 25, 28 Nov 2020, 2, 5, 9, 21,24, 29 Jan 2021, 10, 13, 17 Apr 2021.
Verdi’s Nabucco could be conceptualized as the protest opera for all seasons. It premiered in 1842, when Giuseppe Verdi was 28 years old. Nabucco” is the story of the Assyrian King, Nebuchadnezzar, who came in 587 B.C. with his armies to desecrate Jerusalem, kill the Israelites, and destroy the Temple of Solomon. The most familiar theme from “Nabucco” is the chorus of the Hebrew slaves at the end of Part IV, “Va, Pensiero” – Go Thoughts, or Hasten Thoughts. World renowned soprano and operatic diva, Anna Netrebko adds the bloodthirsty Babylonian princess Abigaille to her already impressive repertoire on 30 Apr 2021, 4, 8, 12, 15 May 2021
Dates:26, 29 Mar 2021, 1, 5, 30 Apr 2021, 4, 8, 12, 15 May 2021.
Dead Man Walking
Dead Man Walking is the first opera by Jake Heggie, with a libretto by Terrence McNally. It is based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean that first found international fame when it was made into a film starring Susan Sarandon.The story follows a nun who offers counselling to a convicted killer on death row, and later to his victims’ families. Wonderfully talented mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato stars as Helen Prejean.
Dates: 8, 11, 14, 17, 21, 24, 29 Apr 2021, 4 May 2021
Specific dates and times TBC.
Sep 21- Dec 12 2020: Aida-Verdi.
Sep 22 – Oct 6 2020: Les Contes D’Hoffman – Offenbach.
Sep 23 – Oct 102 2020: Roberto Devereux – Donizetti
Oct 2 2020 – Mar 12 2021: Carmen – Bizet.
Oct 7 – Nov 6 2020: Tristran und Isolde – Wagner.
Oct 24 2020- May 8 2021: La Traviata – Verdi.
Oct 30 – Nov 6 2020: Il Trovatore – Verdi.
Nov 12 – Dec 5 2020: The Fiery Angel – Prokofiev.
Nov 21 2020 – Apr 17 2021: La Bohème – Puccini.
Nov 30 – Dec 23 2020: Fidelio – Beethoven.
Dec 11 2020 – Jan 8 2021: Il Barbiere Di Siviglia – Rossini.
Dec 15 2020 – Jan 14 2021: Hansel and Gretel – Humperdinck.
Dec 31 2020 – Jan 5 2021: Die Zauberflöte – Mozart.
Jan 12 – Apr 22 2021: Roméo et Juliette – Gounod.
Mar 1 – May 20 2021: Don Giovanni – Mozart.
Mar 2 – May 21 2021: Guilio Cesare – Handel.
Mar 5 – Mar 20 2021: Lulu – Berg.
Mar 16 – Apr 6 2021: Rusalka – Dvořák.
Mar 26 – May 15 2021: Nabucco -Verdi.
Apr 8 – May 2 2021: Dead Man Walking – Heggie.
Apr 16 – May 6 2021: Die Frau Ohne Schatten -Strauss.
May 7 – Jun 4 2021: Il Pirate – Bellini
May 21 – Jun 5 2021: Billy Budd – Britten.
What a wonderful and eclectic season of opera to experience!
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