Met? Meh

“For many opera lovers, opera has become a museum, where one revisits a few cherished works, chiefly with a view to hearing fine voices sing.” – Vincent Giroud

The Met announced its 2019/20 season this week.

Handel’s Agrippina and Glass’s Akhnaten are the most interesting on offer, maybe Janáček’s Kát’a Kabanová and Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess, too. And Michael Spyres (probably the world’s best tenor) makes his Met debut.

It’s a fairly unadventurous lineup otherwise, heavy on warhorses and repeats – and new productions of works staged recently. Isn’t there a better way to spend money?

There are the usual suspects:

Three Mozarts

  • Marriage of Figaro
  • Così fan tutte
  • The Magic Flute

Three Verdis:

  • Macbeth
  • Traviata
  • Simon Boccanegra

FIVE Puccinis

  • Manon Lescaut
  • La bohème
  • Tosca (HD)
  • Madama Butterfly (HD)
  • Turandot (HD)

THREE of the ten cinema broadcasts will be Puccini – so nearly a third. Ugh. And no Kát’a Kabanová. Go figure.

Bohème, Tosca, Traviata, Magic Flute all done in 2018/19 season.

There should be a moratorium on the Mozart, Verdi and Puccini warhorses, and Carmen, for 15 years.


HANDEL
Agrippina (HD)
Pretty damn good. Imperial Roman power politics played as sex farce – Carry On Clavdivs. Has a show-stopping mezzo aria.

GLUCK
Orfeo ed Euridice
Good to get some Gluck – but Orfeo tends to be the work most put on. (Met last staged it in 2011.) It has “Che farò senza Euridice”, but isn’t as musically or dramatically strong as either of the IphigéniesAlceste, or Armide. The Met produced Tauride (although with an ageing, miscast Domingo); give the world more Gluck!

ROSSINI
La Cenerentola
It’s a fun, popular piece – but the Met did it in 2014. They could do Mosè, Maometto II, Ermione, Matilde di Shabran, or Zelmira for starters.

DONIZETTI
Maria Stuarda (HD)

Done in 2012/13 and 2016. Let’s have Lucrezia BorgiaPoliuto, or La favorite – or, if they want to be ambitious, Imelda de’ LambertazziL’assedio di Calais, or, if they want Maria, Padilla or di Rohan.

WAGNER
Flying Dutchman (HD)
One of the fun early ones. Last done in 2017. Gets a new production.

BERLIOZ
La damnation de Faust
Great whateveritis (opera? oratorio? légende dramatique?) – and Michael Spyres makes his Met début. (About time! Dare we hope…?) Last done 2008; the Met hasn’t produced Cellini since 2003, and apparently never Béatrice et Bénédict.

MASSENET
Manon (HD)
Werther

The two most over-represented Massenets. Manon was done in 2012 and 2014/15; Werther in 2017. M wrote at least a dozen operas better than either. (And, no, I don’t include HeroiadeLe roi de Lahore, or Le Cid.)

TCHAIKOVSKY
Queen of Spades

One of the two, boring, popular ones, last done in 2011; this is an over-expanded short story with ersatz Mozart and bits of Grétry stuck in. Give us The Maid of Orleans – or, better still, Rimsky.

STRAUSS
Der Rosenkavalier
The Presentation of the Rose and the final trio are wonderful, and all decomposing sopranos want to play the Marschallin. But the Met did it two years ago. There’s a lot of great Strauss that’s rarely performed outside Germany, like Die schweigsame Frau, Daphne, Intermezzo, or Friedenstag. Apparently Die Frau ohne Schatten next year.

BERG
Wozzeck (HD)
New production of a work last done in 2014.

JANACEK
Kát’a Kabanová
Last done in 2004; this should obviously be an HD screening.

GERSHWIN
Porgy and Bess (HD)
American classic, not performed for 30 years.

GLASS
Akhnaten (HD)
Magnificent, an imaginative, powerful score (from ethereally beautiful pieces like the Window of Appearances to the tumultuous Attack and Fall). OPEN NOW ARE THE DOUBLE DOORS OF THE HORIZON; UNLOCKED ARE ITS BOLTS!

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