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Met's 2012-2013 season: Which of These Operas do You Want to See, and Why?


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I'm always happy with the crowd-pleasers: Aida, Carmen, Traviata, etc., but especially Rigoletto, my first and still favorite opera. I've experienced most of these at one point or another and would gladly do so again save the Ring cycle. Once is enough for me on that journey.

 

Kevin Slater

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I think the reason the ones Kevin named are crowd-pleasers is because they are chock-full of terrific music. (And so are some of the other ones, too;

I saw a performance of "Dialogues" at Berkeley opera many years ago).

 

The one I'm most curious about is the Berlioz Troyens with which I'm completely unfamiliar . . .

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I'm with Kevin on the Ring Cycle -- I'm afraid there are very few (one or two) Wagner operas that I can sit through. I love all of the Verdi offerings. I am especially fond of Turandot. As far as I'm concerned Don Giovanni is the greatest opera ever written.

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Thanks for asking the question, because it's time to purchase tickets for next season. Here are my top four picks, and my reasons:

 

Le Comte Ory has a funny plot, and Juan Diego Florez is a wonderful bel canto singer with a commanding stage presence. He's very handsome, too.

 

L'Elisir d'Amore is another light opera, with a good cast (especially Anna Netrebko), a lovely production (if it's the same as last season's), and some wonderful music.

 

Turandot is in my opinion the most beautiful opera ever (though sometimes I think Tosca is more moving) and I haven't heard it in a while. It's a very accessible opera for beginners.

 

La Traviata is also full of wonderful music, plus the chance to hear Placido Domingo sing the baritone role of Giorgio Germont, father of Alfredo, the tenor role, which I heard Domingo sing twenty-five or thirty years ago. Of course, Violetta is one of the juiciest roles in all of opera, and Diana Damrau is likely to sing it beautifully.

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Where of where is the ultimate Opera Enthusiast & ALL Knowledgeable Mr. Whipman? I guess Buying his Season MET Tickets as we speak ;)

 

And where is the estimable Leigh to defend his RINGy Dingy Thingy? Which reminds me, we haven't seen any of his posts lately. Just where has he gone?

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MET Choices

 

Well... Brooklyn Guy I have now officially chimed in... and as GP noted Lee has been very quiet of late... and we all know that if and when he does chime in it will be to extol his beloved Wagner and his Ring Cycle… not to mention Parsifal… and they say that I am the one who likes to torture people!!!

 

At any rate, those who are familiar with my postings here and/or have read my profile, certainly know that I prefer the Bel Canto composers above all others.

 

Still, I must agree with Egigonos… Mozart’s Don Giovanni is probably the greatest opera ever written… it has it all… comedy, tragedy, murder, lust, you name it… and Puccini’s Turandot is indeed up there at the top of my list as well… I consider it the last of the really great operas… Sorry Benjamin Britten fans… Actually I have a third opera that I find special and that is Rossini’s Semiramide as it was the piece that set the standard for Italian opera for the better part of a century… as regards orchestration, and basic structures… indeed Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi are all indebted to in and it’s influence can be seen as far flung as Turandot. It has been about 20 years since the MET has performed the piece… with any luck in an upcoming season.

 

So, as for the MET (as opposed to the MET’s) current season, here’s my list.

 

Definitely Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda… It is my favorite of the Tudor Trilogy… I find it the most melodious… actually overflowing with gorgeous Bel Canto cantilenas… plus any opera that has a cat fight involving two queens is tops in my book!

 

Also, I must see Le Comte Ory again… here we find Rossini in his French mode… and at his most urbane and sophisticated as well… with that amazing final trio the piece being as stunning and refined as anything Mozart ever penned… plus it is great fun… plus Juan Diego Flòrez will be appearing in it as well!

 

Finally, and I find this a strange choice to open the season, but there is no finer comic opera than Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore… yes some are it’s equal, but few finer… it is indeed a little gem… and again what melodies! Plus, I hope the piece will be performed uncut… it is not overly long to begin with and cutting it is analogous to dissecting a butterfly.

 

Others to consider… Handel’s Giulio Cesare… Cleopatra’s arias alone are worth the price of admission, Puccini’s under-rated La Rondine, plus the middle period Verdi trio of Rigoletto, Traviata, Trovatore… you can’t go wrong there!

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Anna Netrebko

 

Anna Netrebko is the star of "L'Elisir d'Amore." Netrebko opened last season as well--in an opera that was an unusual choice to start the season.

 

Isn't it very clear that the Met considers Netrebko its #1 box office attraction?

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Actually, it is interesting that the long neglected Donizetti has come into his own as well... at least as far opening night is concerned.... 2007 featured Lucia di Lammermoor, last season Anna Bolena, and this season L'Elisir d'Amore. Of course the prima donnas (Dessay for Lucia and Netrebko for the others) involved had something to do with it... but only a few short years ago "who woulda thunk!"... when many opera goers looked down their noses at anything Bel Canto. Still, with the right artists those "old-fashioned" operas can be as dramatically effective as anything...

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To Whipped Guy and WilliamM, THANK YOU for a really wonderful chance to read through your comments on the upcoming Met season.

 

I was first introduced to opera in my early 30's, listening to cassette tape recordings of Mozart's Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute, and Puccini's La Bohème. Previously I had only attended one opera, a forced attendacne when studying for my Liberal Arts degree, where we were dragged to a production of Madame Butterfly, sung by a rather Rubenesque soprano who I cheered when she finally stabbed herself, only to be dismayed when she continued singing....

 

But thank God the listening over and over to the notes of Mozart and Puccini led me to a productive period in my 40's where I started collecting over 140 CD's of operas running the gamut of taste and periods. I am NOT (ducking now for the tomatoes that will be launched) a fan of Verdi, having sat through one of the outdoor productions in Rome of Aida (and admittedly the smell from the live elephants on stage did not help). I also rank Puccini's Turandot among the all time greats, but I also have a soft spot for his trilogy of one-act operas, Gianni Schicchi, Suor Angelica, and Il Tabarro, and enjoy large sections of La Rondine, La Fanciulla del West, and of course Tosca.

 

One of my all-time favorites has been the recording of Bellini's Norma with JoAN Sutherland and Marilyn Horne -- their duets are phenomenal.

 

On the current topic here of the 2012-2013 season of the Met, I have to say there are MANY productions I would willingl see if I had a few thousand dollars for tickets! While not wishing to see or hear any of the Verdi pieces (OK, I am ducking those tomatoes again), the productions of operas by Bizet, Rossini, Poulenc, Mozart, Puccini, Donizetti, Gounod, Handel, --- many great productions, although, sadly, no Russian or 20th century British or American operas on the list this year.

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My opera knowledge is limited, despite enjoying classical music yeah these forty years.

 

I would like to see the Ring Cycle at least one, but that's Bucket-, and not A-, List.

I might go for Le Nozze de Figaro. I definitely want to see Die Zauberflöte sometime in my life, but not the Bergman production.

 

Operas I have seen: Handel's Orlando Furioso, with both Alto and Countertenor

Recorded Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust (in the chorus)

Turandot with Jane Eaglin [sp?]. He she done Tristan yet?

But my all-time favourite, my freshman year in college: Tristan, with Birgit Nielsen. Woof.

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One of my all-time favorites has been the recording of Bellini's Norma with JoAN Sutherland and Marilyn Horne -- their duets are phenomenal.

 

On the current topic here of the 2012-2013 season of the Met, I have to say there are MANY productions I would willingl see if I had a few thousand dollars for tickets! While not wishing to see or hear any of the Verdi pieces (OK, I am ducking those tomatoes again), the productions of operas by Bizet, Rossini, Poulenc, Mozart, Puccini, Donizetti, Gounod, Handel, --- many great productions, although, sadly, no Russian or 20th century British or American operas on the list this year.

 

I very much enjoyed reading your comments.

 

I am also disappointed that the Met left out Russian operas and 20th century British and American operas. As much as I like Puccini, I would enjoy opera less without Benjamin Britten ("Peter Grimes," "Death in Venice") and Alban Berg ("Wozzeck," "Lulu"). I could name many American 20th century operas that I have enjoyed deeply, most recently Frank Loesser's "The Most Happy Fella."

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I believe that tickets do go on sale beginning Sunday August 12 to the public at large... and the week before to guild members at the Supporting Level and above... at least that has been the schedule in the past.

 

Also, contrary to what BG has posted I unfortunately don't have season tickets for the guys that "Swing Wood at Balls"... or for the MET for that matter... Would that I did!

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If I were living in NYC again, there are very few works here that I would not go to, although I realize how far out of the opera scene I have fallen when I read the casts and have never even heard of many of the singers (oh, for the days when I could have told you all about even the comprimarios!). There aren't many singers I have actually seen, either, though there are a few who must be older than I am (Felicity Palmer? I think the last time I saw her was in "Il Crociato in Egitto" about forty years ago). The Met still seems to be raiding the old Soviet Union for new faces.

 

There are a few operas here that I love but have rarely seen, that I would definitely revisit: "Francesca da Rimini," the lovely "La Rondine," and "Maria Stuarda" with a mezzo Maria (the last one I saw was Dame Janet Baker in her prime). I can never get enough Wagner, not only the Ring operas but also "Parsifal," which has a fabulous cast; yes, I can even sit through "Rheingold" when they do it as a three-hour one-acter, which I prefer. But I might as well admit it here now and get it over with: my favorite opera is "Don Carlo," the most fascinating psychological portrait of a full cast of historical characters even written. I could write a book about them, but don't worry--I won't do it here.

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Charlie... Three things that I am glad that you mentioned...

 

First even mention of the "Italian" as opposed to "French" Meyerbeer (He was obviously German) with Il Crociato in Egitto arouses my curiosity as I have only heard bits and pieces of it.

 

Second, I have never experienced a mezzo Maria (the always fabulous Joyce DiDonato will be doing it at he MET) in Maria Stuarda... in the past Sutherland, Sills and others have always embellished it upward rather than downward... and I wonder if anyone will be inclined to go for the high D in alt at the end of (what is now based on recent scholarship) Act One... perhaps the soprano Elisabetta... after all she has the last laugh?

 

Third, Francesca da Rimini... yes, an opera with beautiful moments... unfortunately none bloom into melodies of Puccinian splendor... but a very beautiful piece nonetheless. I also recall the production (seen many years ago) was quite sumptuous with a very realistic battle scene.

 

Also, you are probably right about Don Carlos... (Wish it were being done in French!)

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I'll bet there hasn't been a fully staged performance of "Il Crociato" since the 19th century; I saw it in a semi-staged concert version (at Carnegie Hall? I can't remember, but it was in New York).

 

I, too, prefer the French verson of "Don Carlos," with the complete prelude, since the cut version without it doesn't make as much sense.

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I'll bet there hasn't been a fully staged performance of "Il Crociato" since the 19th century...
Actually it was performed at La Fenice in Venice in 2007 during a period when that theater made an effort to perform certain works that were premiered there as was Il Crociato in 1824. Consequently, there is a DVD as well as a CD of that performance. I recall hearing the internet broadcast of a portion of the final act. However, I have not heard the entire opera... As I vaguely recall, it seemed like an amalgamation of Schubert, Rossini, and what we think of as Meyerbeer... and ended up sounding like "none of the above". There is also an Opera Rara recording from a number of years ago which I have not heard.
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Although I enjoyed the performance more than I expected, I can't pretend to remember anything about the opera now. My favorite Meyerbeer is "Les Huguenots," particularly the live recording from La Scala in 1962 with Simionato, Sutherland and Corelli, even though it's sung in Italian; it's hard to believe that Simionato retired shorty afterwards because she felt she was past her prime, since she sounds fabulous.

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I very much enjoyed reading your comments.

 

I am also disappointed that the Met left out Russian operas and 20th century British and American operas. As much as I like Puccini, I would enjoy opera less without Benjamin Britten ("Peter Grimes," "Death in Venice") and Alban Berg ("Wozzeck," "Lulu"). I could name many American 20th century operas that I have enjoyed deeply, most recently Frank Loesser's "The Most Happy Fella."

 

I had a fascination with Berg's "Lulu" some years back - think I over-listened to it and lost interest. As for Brittwn -- anything and everything he wrote is music to my ears. I first heard "Peter Grimes" on a long plane trip, and listened over and over waiting for that remarkable trio (or is it a quartet) of women's voices in Act 2 that begins, "From the gutter..." - sheer genius. And then the melodiousness going into dissonance of Peter's mad scene sung by Peter Pears... OK, you get the idea that I like Britten's music -- and wish someone would attempt to stage his "Gloriana" again.

 

As for some others, I would like to reacquaint myself with French opera of the late 19th and early 20th century, especially those who followed Gounod and Bizet such as Offenbach, Saint-Saens, Delibes ("Lakme'" is beautiful but have not seen in performed in the US in years), Massenet, Debussy, Faure', Poulenc, and Messiaens.

 

Like some others here, I find the heavy German fare harder to sit through in an opera house, but I do enjoy much of Wagner's works.

 

When it comes to the Russians, I was smitten sitting in productions in St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre, and of course in the old Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, and being introduced to the operatic works of Glinka, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovskiy ("Eugene Onegin"), Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov leading into the greats of the 20th century, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky and Prokofiev. Admittedly many of the works of these composers are lengthy and difficult often to appreciate without knowing some Russian, but they are filled wih amazing melodies (except perhaps some of the more difficulty pieces of Prokofiev...)

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Charlie mentions Giulietta Simionato above and the fact that she retired a few years after that all-star Meyerbeer Gli Ugonotti at La Scala. In fact, the voice began to sound a bit tired during that time frame... so she rightfully decided to go out before she lost it entirely... a wise decision that many artists fail to make. In addition, she performed a wide rage of music from Gluck to Verismo. In any event, while diminutive in stature (she wore platform shoes while on stage), she could pack quite the proverbial punch. Interestingly one of her earliest recordings was as Zia Fidalma in Cimarosa's Il Matrimonio Segreto... and she delivers the line, "Vergogna, vergogna!" (Shame, disgrace!) with the Verdian force of an Amneris or Eboli... and in deep dark contralto tones... and somehow it all works in Cimarosa's delicate late 18th Century comic opera! As you can tell she is a favorite of mine.

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