Role debuts are usually among the most fascinating events in international opera. For years, adoring fans ponder at what their favored interpreter might sound and look like as a character that they have only dreamed about. Once the singer finally sets foot on the stage to embody the character, all bets are off.
The Opera National de Paris’s new 2017-18 season is flush with high profile role debuts. Here are the ones that OperaWire thinks you simply cannot miss.
Sonya Yoncheva: Elisabeth in Verdi’s “Don Carlos”
Yoncheva is one of the most exciting singers of our time with her luscious voice and incredible dramatic skills. It is for that reason that every time the soprano takes on a new role, it’s something to see. Already having scored raves for her work in Verdi’s “Otello” and “La Traviata,” Yoncheva is quickly becoming the go-to soprano for Verdi’s work. With an all star cast and some of the most infectious melodies in Verdi’s music, Yoncheva will likely triumph in her debut as the doomed heroine of the composer’s most epic work.
Elina Garanca: Eboli in Verdi’s “Don Carlos”
This is a marriage that fans have been dreaming about and finally Paris audiences will get to see Garanca’s first major Verdi opera. After previewing arias at concerts and CDs, Garanca will finally step into the role of Eboli alongside an all star cast. For years Garanca has been dominating the lyric repertoire singing Rossini, Strauss, Donizetti and Mozart and achieving great success. However, this will be an occasion not to be missed for the mezzo’s most fervent followers and a big step in her career.
Nadine Sierra: Norina in Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale”
Sierra is quickly becoming one of the most exciting sopranos of her generation. Her ascension comes down to her sheer dominance of the Bel Canto repertoire. After having showed off her dramatic skills in Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor,” her about face as Norina will give audiences a chance to see Sierra’s comic timing. With high flying coloratura and a silky voice, this is set to be a massive success for the American soprano.
Ildar Abdrazakov: Boris Godounov-Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godounov”
For years the Russian bass has been dominating the works of Verdi, Rossini, Mozart and Donizetti. However, he has sung a number of Russian works including “Prince Igor” and “Kovanschina” to great acclaim. This upcoming season he takes on the towering role of “Boris Godounov,” one that is generally known as the pinnacle of the Russian repertoire. As Russian native this is the task most have been waiting to see him sing.
Artur Ruciński: Gianni Schicchi in Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi”
The Polish baritone has become one of the most exciting baritones to look out for. His suave legato line has been acclaimed, particularly for his work in Verdi’s demanding repertoire and he has quickly become one of the most sought-after baritones in the world. After years of singing Verdi, Ruciński takes on Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi.” This is a shift from his dramatic work and it should be a welcome surprise for the baritone’s voice.
Pretty Yende: Teresa in Berlioz’s “Benvenuto Cellini”
Yende is not only one of the most exciting artists currently performing but she is also one that is constantly looking to break new ground for herself. After making a splash in the Bel Canto repertoire in such roles of Rosina in Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” and in Donizett’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” with the company, Paris audiences would expect another great Bel Canto character. However, Yende likes to surprise and she will instead add Teresa in Berlioz’s masterpiece. Filled with lyric lines and some virtuosic music, Yende will be a great counterpart for this new production by famed film director Terry Gilliam.
Anja Harteros: Amelia in “Un Ballo in Maschera”
Let’s admit that this is not a role debut proper for Harteros as she has already triumphed as Amelia at the Bayerische Staatsoper, garnering tremendous praise from critics for her lyrical voice and her pianissimo. But Paris has never actually seen her taken on the composer whose works she is most associated with. For those fans who long to hear Verdi, this will be a great opportunity to hear her outside of Germany.