The Metropolitan Opera has announced its 2017-18 season and with it there are two Met premieres and two notable revivals. “Luisa Miller” will have its first run in over a decade. Rossini’s “Semiramide” will also be performed for the first time since 1993 while Msssenet’s “Cendrillon” bows at the house for the first time ever. With some of these operas making rare appearances OperaWire takes a look at works that have not been in the repertoire for years and which should make returns to the house.
Since 1978 the Metropolitan Opera has not presented Donizetti’s French masterpiece. The opera was last seen at the house with Luciano Pavarotti and Shirley Verrett and the final performances with the company were at Wolf Trap with Bianca Berini and John Alexander. The opera has also never been presented in its original French version with the company. While the opera remained unpopular for some time, over the past few years the Donizetti work has seen revivals in Europe most recently at the Salzburg Festival, Bayerische Staatsoper and Theatre du Capitole.
Singers like Elina Garanca and Kate Aldrich have been advocates in the lead role of Leonore. Mariusz Kwiecien, Matthew Polenzani, Juan Diego Flórez and Ludovic Tezier have also performed the opera. “La Favorite” is recognized as one of the masterpieces in the Bel Canto repertoire and as a result it desires a new production of revival in the near future.
It is always strange to see that one of Wagner’s most accessible and popular music dramas has not been seen at the Met for over a decade. The last time it was presented was in 2006 in Robert Wilson’s production starring Ben Heppner and Karita Mattila. While it does not seem like that many years, that seems like an eternity for Met audiences. The opera is presented frequently in Europe in some very modernistic interpretations but it is always cast with top singers.
Jonas Kaufmann is the first name that comes to mind as he has performed the title role in Munich, Milan, Paris to tremendous raves. There is also Klaus Florian Vogt who is returning to the Met for “Fidelio” and Brandon Jovanovich who has sung Wagner all over the United States, except for at the Met. Finally Stuart Skelton, who recently opened the Met’s season is one of the leading Lohengrins of today.
Elsa is a role that has been performed by some of the greatest sopranos around the world including Annette Dash, Martina Serafin, Anja Harteros, Edith Haller and of course Anna Netrebko, who recently made her role debut. The soprano that is now dominating the role of Ortrud is Evelyn Herlitzius, who is finally making her Met debut this season in “Parsifal.”
It’s odd that one of Donizetti’s most popular dramas has not been performed at the Met since 1904. And even then all it got was one performance. After all “Lucrezia Borgia” has been a vehicle for some of the greatest sopranos such as Monserrat Caballé, Renée Fleming, Joan Sutherland, Leyla Gencer, Edita Gruiberova and Beverly Sills. Yet the Met has never shown signs of bringing the work back to the repertoire. That said, after the success of three tudor queens at the Met, Peter Gelb will have some thoughts about the opera.
Currently singers like Angela Meade, Krassimira Stoyanova, Elena Mosuc and Mariella Devia are taking on the role and it is one that most Bel Canto sopranos enjoy taking on. Additionally the role of Gennaro is a popular one with lyric tenors and Juan Diego Flórez will sing it this summer at the Salzburg Festival.
There was a time period at the Met when Ponchielli’s masterpiece was performed often. The opera was among the most popular with sopranos including Renata Tebaldi, Eva Marton, Eileen Farrell, Grace Bumbry, Renata Scotto and Ghena Dimitrova. Tenors like Plácido Domingo, Carlo Bergonzi and Franco Correlli also lined up to take on the role of Enzo. And the last time the opera was given was in 2008 when Deborah Vogt, Olga Borodina and Aquilas Machado were cast.
For a work that had so many interpreters in the past this is a very long time. Most would say that there are no sopranos for the roles but Anna Netrebko recently previewed the aria “Suicidio” in her album while Elina Garanca showed interest in the role of Laura on new CD. These are potential ideas for a work that needs the star power.
La Forza del Destino
Verdi’s beloved work almost came back to the Met but due to budgetary issues the production was sacked. The work was last seen in 2006 with Deborah Voigt, the late Salvatore Licitra and Vitalij Kowaljow.
But Europe has seen it more often with Jonas Kaufmann and Marcelo Alvarez most recently taking on the demanding role of Alvaro. The Met had an all star cast lined up for a new production, which included Sondra Radvanovsly, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Ferrucio Furlanetto and Nicola Alaimo. Hopefully Met audiences will see a similar cast in the near future.
In 1949 the Met gave its final performance of Thomas’ masterpiece. Giuseppe Di Stefano portrayed the role of Wilhelm Meister with Blanche Thebom in the title role. The opera is not the most popular in the repertoire but that does not mean some of today’s biggest stars haven’t performed it.
As a matter of fact Sophie Koch has performed the title role several times in Paris and Geneva. Diana Damrau has also performed the villainous Philine in Geneva. This is one of those works that would be refreshing to the repertoire and would be a pleasure to hear the famous aria “Je suis Titania” in the context of the opera.
I Vespri Siliciani
The last time the Met assembled this Verdi opera it included legendary singer Leo Nucci and Samuel Ramey alongside Sondra Radvanovsky. The year was 2004 and it was in the John Dexter production. This is an opera that has also been conquered by some of the greatest singers including Renata Scotto, Monserrat Caballe, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes and Christine Deutekom.
In today’s context the work is mostly staged in its original French version and while the Met has only done it in Italian, it is still a viable opera to show. Singers like Bryan Hymel, Lianna Hartounian and Angela Meade have all achieved great success in “I Vespri” making it a viable option for a revival.