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X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X
Composer Anthony Davis. Libretto by Thulani Davis. Based on a story by Christopher Davis
15,16,17,19 December 2023 / 205 minutes
Anthony Davis’s groundbreaking and influential opera, which premiered in 1986, arrives at the Met at long last. Theater luminary and Tony-nominated director of Slave Play Robert O’Hara oversees a potent new staging that imagines Malcolm as an everyman whose story transcends time and space. An exceptional cast of breakout artists and young Met stars enliven the operatic retelling of the civil rights leader’s life. Baritone Will Liverman, who triumphed in the Met premiere of Fire Shut Up in My Bones, is Malcolm, alongside soprano Leah Hawkins as his mother, Louise; mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis as his sister Ella; bass-baritone Michael Sumuel as his brother Reginald; and tenor Victor Ryan Robertson as Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. Kazem Abdullah conducts the newly revised score, which provides a layered, jazz-inflected setting for the esteemed writer Thulani Davis’s libretto.
It follows the key events in Malcolm’s life as his father is murdered by white supremacists, is separated from his family by social workers, is brought up in Boston and falls into a life of drugs and crime, and ends up in prison, where he seeks solace in the message of the Quran, and the promise of an African god: Allah. On leaving prison, he continues his religious life and his teaching, and takes the name Malcolm X, with an X to represent the African name that was taken from him. His words of violence and retaliation appeal to his followers, but when Malcolm makes the Hajj to Mecca, he realises that the message of Islam is one of peace. There he takes the name El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, and returns home to face a world of violence, which finally ends with his assassination in 1965.
Florencia en el Amazonas
Composer Daniel Catán. Librettist Marcela Fuentes-Berain. Inspired by the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez
5,6,7,9 January 2024 / 155 minutes
Sung in Spanish, the opera tells the enchanting story of a Brazilian opera diva who returns to her homeland to perform at the legendary opera house of Manaus—and to search for her lost lover, who has vanished into the jungle. The Met premiere stars soprano Ailyn Pérez as Florencia Grimaldi, with Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin on the podium to lead a spellbinding new production by Mary Zimmerman that brings the mysterious and magical realm of the Amazon to the Met stage. A distinguished ensemble of artists portray the diva’s fellow travelers on the river boat to Manaus, including soprano Gabriella Reyes as the journalist Rosalba, bass-baritone Greer Grimsley as the ship’s captain, baritone Mattia Olivieri as his enigmatic first mate, tenor Mario Chang as the captain’s nephew Arcadio, and mezzo-soprano Nancy Fabiola Herrera and baritone Michael Chioldi as the feuding couple Paula and Álvaro.
Composer Giuseppe Verdi. Libretto by Temistocle Solera. Based on the biblical books of 2 Kings, Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Daniel, and on the 1836 play by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornu
2,3,4,6 February 2024 / 190 minutes
Ancient Babylon comes to life in this classic Met staging of biblical proportions. Baritone George Gagnidze stars as the imperious king Nabucco, alongside soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska, reprising her thrilling turn as his vengeful daughter Abigaille. Mezzo-soprano Maria Barakova and tenor SeokJong Baek are Fenena and Ismaele, whose love transcends politics, and bass Dmitry Belosselskiy repeats his celebrated portrayal of the high priest Zaccaria. Daniele Callegari conducts Verdi’s exhilarating early masterpiece. READ SYNOPSIS
In a remarkable career spanning six decades in the theater, Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) composed 26 operas, at least half of which are at the core of today’s repertoire. His role in Italy’s cultural and political development has made him an icon in his native country. Temistocle Solera (1815–78) was a professional librettist and, early in his career, a composer of moderate success. He also provided Verdi with the libretti for his first opera, Oberto, and the subsequent I Lombardi, Giovanna d’Arco, and Attila.
World premiere: Teatro alla Scala, Milan, 1842. The success of Verdi’s third opera, a stirring drama about the fall of ancient Jerusalem at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco), catapulted the 28-year-old composer to international fame. The music and Verdi himself were subsumed into a surge of patriotic fervor culminating in the foundation of the modern nation of Italy. Specifically, the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves (“Va, pensiero”), in which the Israelites express their longing for their homeland, came to stand for the country’s aspirations for unity and that exciting era in Italian history, the Risorgimento, or “Resurgence.”
Composer Georges Bizet. Libretto by Ludovic Halévy. Based on a novella by Prosper Mérimée
1,2,3,5 March 2024 / 225 minutes
Acclaimed English director Carrie Cracknell brings a vital new production of one of opera’s most enduringly powerful works, reinvigorating the classic story with a staging that moves the action to the modern day and finds at the heart of the drama issues that could not be more relevant today: gendered violence, abusive labor structures, and the desire to break through societal boundaries. Dazzling young mezzo-soprano Aigul Akhmetshina leads a powerhouse quartet of stars in the complex and volatile title role, alongside tenor Piotr Beczała as Carmen’s troubled lover Don José, soprano Angel Blue as the loyal Micaëla, and bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen as the swaggering Escamillo. Daniele Rustioni conducts Bizet’s heart-pounding score. READ SYNOPSIS
Georges Bizet (1838–1875) was known as a brilliant student and prodigy, but his works only found lasting success after his untimely death—most notably Carmen, which premiered three months before he died. Librettist Henri Meilhac (1831–1897) would subsequently provide the libretto for Massenet’s Manon (1884). His collaborator on Carmen was Ludovic Halévy (1834–1908), the nephew of composer Jacques Fromental Halévy (creator of the opera La Juive and Bizet’s father-in-law). The libretto is based on a novella by Prosper Mérimée (1803–1870), a French dramatist, historian, and archaeologist.
La Forza del Destino
Composer Giuseppe Verdi. Librettist Francesco Maria Piave.
5,6,7,9 April 2024 / 265 minutes
Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts Verdi’s grand tale of ill-fated love, deadly vendettas, and family strife, with stellar soprano Lise Davidsen as the noble Leonora, one of the repertory’s most tormented—and thrilling—heroines. Director Mariusz Treliński delivers the company’s first new Forza in nearly 30 years, setting the scene in a contemporary world and making extensive use of the Met’s turntable to represent the unstoppable advance of destiny that drives the opera’s chain of calamitous events. The distinguished cast also features tenor Brian Jagde as Leonora’s forbidden beloved, Don Alvaro; baritone Igor Golovatenko as her vengeful brother, Don Carlo; bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi as Fra Melitone; and bass Soloman Howard as both Leonora’s father and Padre Guardiano. READ SYNOPSIS
Roméo et Juliette
Composer Charles Gounod. Librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carré
17,18,19,21 May 2024 /215 minutes
Two singers at the height of their powers—radiant soprano Nadine Sierra and tenor sensation Benjamin Bernheim—come together as the star-crossed lovers in Gounod’s sumptuous Shakespeare adaptation, with Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin on the podium to conduct one of the repertoire’s most romantic scores. Bartlett Sher’s elegant staging also features baritone Will Liverman and tenor Frederick Ballentine as the archrivals Mercutio and Tybalt, mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey as the mischievous pageboy Stéphano, and bass-baritone Alfred Walker as Frère Laurent. READ SYNOPSIS
Charles Gounod (1818–93) showed early promise as a musician and achieved commercial success with his opera Faust in 1859. Among his most famous works is a setting of the Ave Maria based on a piece by J. S. Bach. Jules Barbier (1825–1901) and Michel Carré (1821–72) were the leading librettists of their time in France, providing the text for many other operas, including Faust for Gounod, Mignon (also from Goethe) and Hamlet for Ambroise Thomas, and Les Contes d’Hoffmann for Jacques Offenbach.
Gounod infuses this classic drama with an elegant musical aura that reflects the soaring poetry of the original. When the composer explores the darker and more violent side of the story, his music creates drama without resorting to bombast. A reserved melancholy creates all the necessary tension. For the story’s more lighthearted moments, Gounod supplied the sort of buoyant melodies that made his Faust a huge hit with audiences. Midway through Act I, the heroine takes the stage with the giddy coloratura gem “Je veux vivre dans ce rêve.” Moments such as these add musical and dramatic texture to the tragedy, admired for its contrast of light and dark.
World premiere: Théâtre Lyrique, Paris, 1867. Perhaps the most enduringly successful of the many operatic settings of the world’s consummate love story, Roméo et Juliette is an excellent example of French Romanticism, a tradition that values subtlety, sensuality, and graceful vocal delivery over showy effects. In the opera there is a slight shift of focus away from the word games of the original play and a greater focus on the two lovers, who are given four irresistible duets, including a brief final reunion in the tomb scene that does not appear in the play.
In Shakespeare’s lifetime, Italy was a land of many small city-states in constant warfare with one another, but this same country was also the cradle of the Renaissance, with its astounding explosion of art and science. The image invoked by the story’s setting in the ancient city of Verona, then, is a beautiful but dangerous world where poetry or violence might erupt at any moment. The Met’s production moves the action to the 18th century.
7,8,9,11 June 2024 / 170 minutes
Puccini’s bittersweet love story returns to cinemas, with soprano Angel Blue starring as the French courtesan Magda, opposite tenor Jonathan Tetelman as Ruggero, an idealistic young man who offers her an alternative to her life of excess. Maestro Speranza Scappucci conducts Nicolas Joël’s Art Deco–inspired staging, which transports audiences from the heart of Parisian nightlife to a dreamy vision of the French Riviera. Soprano Emily Pogorelc and tenor Bekhzod Davronov complete the sterling cast as Lisette and Prunier. READ SYNOPSIS
Initially conceived as an operetta before receiving the full operatic treatment, this bittersweet love story is the least-known work of the mature Giacomo Puccini, largely due to the circumstances of its premiere: Italy and Austria became enemies during World War I, precluding a Vienna premiere, and the opera quietly opened in neutral Monte Carlo, never finding a permanent place in the repertoire. That loss is scandalous, since La Rondine, judged on its own merits rather than compared to other operas with similar themes, is a fascinating work—featuring an abundance of exuberant waltzes, a lightness of tone (particularly in the intoxicating first two acts), and a romantic vision of Paris and the south of France.
Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) was immensely popular in his own lifetime, and his works remain staples in the repertory of most of the world’s opera companies. Giuseppe Adami (1878–1946) provided Puccini with the libretto for La Rondine and would later work with him on Il Tabarro and Turandot. Viennese author, journalist, and composer Alfred Maria Willner (1859–1929) and his collaborator Heinz Reichert (1877–1940), who wrote operetta libretti for several of the most popular composers of the day, supplied the opera’s outline.
The score of La Rondine is sophisticated and economical—and entirely engrossing. It flows with the sort of melody that could only come from Puccini, including the dreamy dance sequences in Act II and the ensemble in the same scene, “Bevo al tuo fresco sorriso,” as well as the opera’s most famous aria, Act I’s “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta.”
Each of the three acts of La Rondine evokes a different aspect of French life, as well as a different take on the nature of love. Act I is set in Magda’s elegant salon; Act II is set in the raucous Bal Bullier, a famous Latin Quarter dance hall; and Act III is set outside Nice on the French Riviera. The Met’s current, Art Deco–inspired production places the action in the 1920s.
Composer Giacomo Puccini. Librettists Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica.
5,6,7,9 July 2024 / 195 minutes
Extraordinary soprano Asmik Grigorian tackles the demanding role of Cio-Cio-San, the loyal geisha at the heart of Puccini’s devastating tragedy. Tenor Jonathan Tetelman stars as the callous American naval officer Pinkerton, whose betrayal destroys her. Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong reprises the role of the steadfast maid Suzuki, and baritone Lucas Meachem is the American consul Sharpless. Acclaimed maestro Xian Zhang takes the podium to conduct Anthony Minghella’s vivid production. READ SYNOPSIS
The opera takes place in the Japanese port city of Nagasaki at the turn of the last century, at a time of expanding American international presence. Japan was hesitantly defining its global role, and Nagasaki was one of the country’s few ports open to foreign ships. Temporary marriages for foreign sailors were not unusual.
Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) was immensely popular in his own lifetime, and his mature works remain staples in the repertory of most of the world’s opera companies. His librettists for Madama Butterfly, Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, had also collaborated with the composer on his previous two operas, Tosca and La Bohème. Giacosa, a dramatist, was responsible for the stories and Illica, a poet, worked primarily on the words themselves.
Puccini achieved a new level of sophistication with his use of the orchestra in this score, with subtle colorings and sonorities throughout. But the opera rests squarely on the performer of the title role: On stage for most of the time, Cio-Cio-San is the only character that experiences true (and tragic) development. The singer must convey an astounding array of emotions and characteristics, from ethereal to fleshly to intelligent to dreamy-bordering-on-insane, to resigned in the final scene.
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