Another big season at the Metropolitan Opera has come and gone.
The 2018-19 was a rather fascinating one from a repertory perspective, offering up a wide range of music from some of the greatest composers.
The year wound up being a mixed bag of sorts from a quality standpoint with the best performances arguably taking place once the calendar turned to 2019. There were still a solid amount of performances to be seen and heard in the opening months, but as far as complete packages, it was in the latter months where the season really took flight.
So here is a look at the operas of the 2018-19 season that we thought were runaway hits from a creative standpoint.
David McVicar’s production of the Cilea opera was without a doubt the finest bit of directing at the Met with regards to its new productions. Everything, from the design to the characterizations, brought this Italian melodrama to vivid life.
It also helped that McVicar had an incredible cast at his disposal. Anna Netrebko and Jennifer Rowley were both incredible in this role in their own ways, but the cast also featured Piotr Beczala at the height of his powers as well as Anita Rachvelishvili with chest voice to spare. Throw in Ambrogio Maestri and you couldn’t ask for a better set of singers for this verismo piece.
La Clemenza di Tito
Matthew Polenzani, Joyce DiDonato, Elza van de Heever, Ying Fang, Emily D’Angelo, Christian Van Horn. It really doesn’t get much better than that in terms of casting, with every single artist putting on a high-quality showcase of Mozart’s penultimate opera.
From DiDonato’s endlessly expressive “Parto parto,” to Polenzani and Van Den Heever’s complex vocal portrayals, this cast took you on an emotional journey layered with some of the most sophisticated singing heard all season long.
Dialogues des Carmélites
Isabel Leonard’s true star turn was only one of the reasons this show worked so well. Karita Mattila’s acting is tattooed onto my consciousness while Adrianne Pieczonka’s seamless legato singing was some of the most beautiful heard all season long. And we haven’t even mentioned the likes of Erin Morley or Karen Cargill, both truly adding layers to one of the greatest opera achievements of the Met’s entire season.
The production continued to hold up in ways that other technological beasts could only dream of and Yannick Nézet-Séguin truly arrived in his first season as the musical director of the massive company.
Comedies can be just as riveting as great tragedy, and this production proved that in spades. Robert Carsen’s production continues to shine years later with a cast that was led by Ambrogio Maestri.
Maestri’s Falstaff is iconic at this point and the singer shows no signs of boredom in the delightful title role. He was flanked by some truly mesmerizing star turns, mainly that of Marie-Nicole Lemieux as Mistress Quickly. Arguably, no one managed to produce as much laughter all season as the mezzo.
Throw in some solid singing from Golda Schultz, Ailyn Pérez, Juan Jesus Rodriguez, Jennifer Johnson Cano, and Francesco Demuro and you couldn’t honestly ask for more from this opera. Richard Farnes must also be commended for managing this most difficult of operas from the pit.
La Fanciulla Del West
Jonas Kaufmann was the big story heading into this production and he definitely lived up to his end of the bargain. What was less expected was that everyone else in this opera could lift it up to be the best thing at the Met throughout the first four months of the season.
Yusif Eyvazov had a truly heroic showing in the opera, as did Zeljko Lucic in one of his finest portrayals with the company in years. But it was Eva-Maria Westbroek who really stole the show as the titular character. Say what you will about her high notes, but she managed to become Minnie in a way that few other singers managed any role all year.
Marco Armiliato also put in one of the strongest shifts from the pit all season.
La Fille du Régiment
We saw the opening night performance and the final HD showcase. Both were unforgettable nights. Javier Camarena was the standout, encoring “Pour mon âme” every single night of this run and doing so without ever displaying any sense of fatigue (he also made some HD history). Meanwhile, Pretty Yende put on a true star turn as Marie, creating a truly mesmerizing spell between audience and artist. And together, the two were simply beautiful to enjoy.
And the rest of the cast, namely Stephanie Blythe added layers of greatness to this riveting revival of Donizetti’s comedic gem.
In general, the Met’s Ring Cycle was a massive success from a qualitative standpoint. But not all of them were as exceedingly powerful as “Siegfried.” With Philippe Jordan at his most nuanced, this performance of the third work in the tetralogy was raised by a star turn from Stefan Vinke as the titular hero. Michael Volle’s Wanderer was wondrous to behold and Christine Goerke was at her very best as well in the final scene. The opera also had the advantage of featuring Tomasz Konieczny, who had dominated “Das Rheingold” as Alberich.
What were your favorite operas of the Met Opera 2018-19 season? Let us know in the comments below!