From Gershwin to Mozart, Glass to Wagner…The Metropolitan Opera’s 2019-2020 season is one of beguiling diversity matched by celebrated artists from across the globe. As General Manager Peter Gelb observes, this year’s calendar is “…packed with opera’s most talented stars, a wide range of repertoire—both familiar and exotic—and a handful of new productions from some of our most gifted stage directors.”
Porgy and Bess returns to the Met stage for the first time since 1990. Photo: Tristram Kenton/English National Opera.
Ushering in the season on September 23rd was the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess starring Eric Owens and Angel Blue. Conducted by David Robertson and directed by James Robinson, this marks the first time the American classic has been performed on the Met stage since 1990. Next up is Philip Glass’s Akhnaten, making a stunning Met premiere under director Phelim McDermott and conductor Karen Kamensek. Leading the cast is Anthony Roth Costanzo opposite J’Nai Bridges as Neferiti.
A scene from Berg's Wozzeck. Photo: Ruth Walz/Salzburg Festival.
Generating singular buzz is director William Kentridge’s visually striking new staging (apocalyptic pre-WWI) of Berg’s Wozzek, with Peter Mattei making his debut in the title role alongside Elza van den Heever. Notably, the Met’s Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin helms the podium when this groundbreaking production arrives on December 27th.
Christine Goerke in the title role of Puccini's Turandot. Photo by Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera.
Nézet-Séguin, who began his Met tenure just last year, is clearly attracted to pieces that either provide a challenge (he calls Wozzek’s score intriguingly “complex” due to the symbolism that infuses the piece), or taps into his passions. The latter is true of Nézet-Séguin’s first opera of the season, Puccini’s Turandot (October 3rd). It features Christine Goerke and Nina Stemme as the title princess in the classic Franco Zeffirelli production, which addresses Nézet-Séguin’s love of working with a chorus. The attraction to passion projects also applies to Massenet’s operatic adaptation of Goethe’s Werther (from March 16th, starring Piotr Beczala and Joyce DiDonato), with a storyline that first spoke to Nézet-Séguin as a teenager.
Anna Netrebko as Lady Macbeth and Zeljko Lucic in the title role of Verdi's Macbeth. Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera.
The roster of productions continues to explode onto the Lincoln Center scene throughout the fall; on September 24th, Massenet’s Manon (Michael Fabiano and 2019 Richard Tucker Award Winner Lisette Oropesa embody the ill-fated lovers under conductor Maurizio Benini), and a day later Verdi’s Macbeth comes to not-to-be-missed life when Placido Domingo teams up with Anna Netrebko as the formidable Mr. and Mrs. M, under the baton of Marco Armilato.
Act I of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.
Domingo is back onstage as Sharpless (alternating with Tony-winner Paulo Szot and Markus Bruck) in the Puccini favorite Madama Butterfly. Taking wing on October 11th, the cast also boasts Hui He, Ana Maria Martínez, and Elizabeth DeShong. Pier Giorgio Morandi conducts.
A scene from Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice. Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera.
October also brings choreographer Mark Morris’s transformative Orfeo ed Euridice (October 20th), with Jamie Barton stepping into the role of Orpheus while Hei-Kyung Hong plays his beloved. Conducting the elegant Gluck score is Mark Wigglesworth. Another enduring Zeffirelli production is on tap this month: Puccini’s La Boheme. To ensure fans are not disappointed, 16 performances have been scheduled—October 25th through May 7th—with multiple artists stepping into the iconic characters.
A scene from Handel's Agrippina. Photo: Antoni Bofill/Barcelona's Liceu.
Two new additions to the Met’s portfolio most definitely merit special attention: the premiere of Sir David McVicar’s staging of Handel’s Agrippina, starring Joyce DiDonato as the duplicitous empress, with Harry Bicket conducting; and a treasure-trove of Wagnerian superstars coming together for François Girard’s new staging of Der Fliegende Hollander.
The balance of the season is a glorious mix of traditional and contemporary stagings of noted works, including Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Cosi Fan Tutte, Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, Verdi’s La Traviata and Simon Boccanegra, Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust, Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, and Janacek’s Kata Kabanova.
The Magic Flute/Met Opera.
December offers the Met’s wondrous holiday presentation of an English version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, featuring Julie Taymor’s phantasmagorical staging (from December 15th) and led by Lothar Koenigs. (FYI: on December 28th, there will be a behind-the-scenes "Open House" for families, showcasing displays and demonstrations by members of the Met’s backstage staff.)
Anna Netrebko in the title role of Puccini's Tosca. Photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera.
Heralding the New Year, the Met’s annual gala is set to be nothing short of magnificent as superstar soprano Anna Netrebko gives herself over to all things Puccini as she takes on Mimi (Act I of La Bohème, opposite tenor Matthew Polenzani); Tosca (Act I of Tosca) and Turandot (Act II of Turandot), opposite tenor Yusif Eyvazov. Conducting will be Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Finally, the 2019-2020 season is offering audiences an unprecedented 16 Sunday matinees…or, 16 more opportunities to love the weekend!
For information including synopses, performance dates, and tickets for any of the operas scheduled for the Met’s 2019-2020 season, visit metopera.org. To purchase tickets you can also call 212-362-6000. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side between 62nd and 65th Streets and Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues.