Met Opera 2012-13 Preview

Luxury! Opulence! Sarongs!

Single tickets for the Met 2012-13 season go on sale tomorrow, August 12. I can’t say it looks like a very exciting season, it is conservative and draws on repeat Met offenders whose past work hardly inspires confidence, but here’s the deal as I see it. Meaning, these are the questions I would like to ask the people who scheduled the thing.

New Productions
L’elisir d’amore. Why did you pick a charming but extremely modest opera for the grandeur of opening night? What makes you think Anna Netrebko still has the coloratura facility and endearing but, well, modest Matthew Polenzani has acquired enough star power to carry this thing? Why another production from the twee, superficial Bartlett Sher? WHY? (Opening night September 24, HD October 13)

The Tempest. Why did you let Robert Lepage direct again, after how it turned out last time? Why do you think “recreating the interior of the 18th-century La Scala” is a remotely original idea and what does it have to do with The Tempest? What does living composer Thomas Adès have to say about this, as I see he doesn’t actually say anything about his own opera in the publicity despite being the person conducting it and having, um, written it? (Opening October 23, HD November 10)

Un Ballo in Maschera. Wow, who around here found the nerve to hire David Alden to direct? Well done, person. Also a big thanks to the person who already convinced Karita Mattila that this role is not for her and hired Sondra Radvanovsky instead, who despite intonation issues is correct that this role is for her. Will Alden find the elusive key to Marcelo Alvarez’s inner actor? (Opening November 8, HD December 8)

Maria Stuarda. Who thought “nothing like a New Year’s Eve Gala that ends with a beheading”? You may be my people. Will someone pleaaaase get the old, interesting David McVicar back, who might even inspire Joyce DiDonato to forego the perky, and put the one who directed Anna Bolena and Les Troyens out to pasture? Also will you kindly tell me if Elza van den Heever is good, because I have not heard her? (Opening November 31, HD January 19)

“I could be in Paris right now”

Rigoletto. OK, I realize that this was supposed to be this other production from Vienna, which turned out to be dreadful, but why did you think that the keywords of “debut by a Broadway director,” “Las Vegas,” “antics,” and “tragic sidekick” were necessarily more promising? Meaning that I think this is the best opportunity for pure production filth in the season (except possibly the Faust revival). Also, who is conductor Michele Mariotti? Will Diana Damrau’s Babypause interfere with this one? And who will send Piotr Beczala a big bottle of vodka in sympathy? (Opening January 28, HD February 16)

Parsifal. Have you heard that this production by François Girard was outsourced to the arty Europeans for its first run and is rumored to be good? Have you thought about how the Met’s “Pick Your Pleasure” ad campaign is going to work with an opera that basically has no plot and when conducted by Daniele Gatti takes about a week? You know that this is the only thing except maybe Ballo that I am buying a ticket for at noon tomorrow on the dot? (Yes, you could have guessed that.) (Opening February 15, HD March 2)

Giulio Cesare. Do you realize that the Met is about the last house in the world to get this Bollywood-inspired all-singing all-dancing production, which hails from the glorious end of David McVicar’s Goofy Period? Oh well, I’m not sure what makes you think Natalie Dessay is a good choice for Cleopatra, and David Daniels is aging for Cesare, but Alice Coote and Christophe Dumaux will be lovely, right? (Opening April 4, HD April 27)

On to repertory!

Der Ring des Nibelungen: It was so great with the big-name cast that with many fewer famous names and keeping Fabio Luisi’s brutally efficient conducting it will be even better, right?

The voice is variable but the abs are golden
Roberto Alagna in Aida

Aida: Apparently I have forgotten a production deemed by the PR to be “unforgettable,” but I hear soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska is someone to get to know. (HD December 13)

La Clemenza di Tito: This quiet production should suit Elina Garanca’s elegant singing and legendary dramatic temperament as Sesto. Lucy Crowe is also good. (HD December 1)

Carmen. Their names are hard to pronounce, but you should maybe go hear Anita Rachvelishvili as Carmen and Ekaterina Scherbachenko as Micaela?

Le Comte Ory. I missed this Bartlett Sher high jinks-fest when it premiered but have been warned. Juan Diego Florez is back, rest of the major cast is new.

Dialogues des Carmélites. Ding ding ding! Here is our token semi-recent opera to appease the arty crowd! AKA “me.” Felicity Palmer is an excellent idea as Madame de Croissy. Only three performances, Met? Lame. It probably will be less naked than this Berlin production, FWIW.

Don Giovanni. Erwin Schrott is a delight as Leporello and Edward Gardner is a fine conductor but this is a production to skip.

Don Carlo. I am unpersuaded by Ramon Vargas as Carlo but will go because I haven’t seen this production yet. Lorin Maazel? Lorin Maazel.

Faust. Nooooo! Sorry you got stuck with this one, Piotr. You deserve better.

Wikipedia claims this is Francesca da Rimini

Francesca da Rimini. Token verismo obscurity to be ignited by the fiery baton of Marco Armiliato. Probably a must only for Eva-Maria Westbroek superfans? And Marcello Giordani superfans, should they a) exist b) not be too exhausted after Les Troyens. (HD March 16)

Otello. Can you tell me who persuaded Placido Domingo to withdraw from conducting this so I can send them some #@*ing flowers? Also y’all should go see Krassimira Stoyanova in the second cast because she is the best. (HD October 13)

Le Nozze di Figaro. Blah blah blah it’s a Figaro so I would end up there even if the cast included Wolfgang Schmidt. Thankfully it does not though Mojca Erdmann as Susanna inspires great skepticism. Gerald Finley’s Count should make up for that.

La Rondine. What an unfortunate debut role for the exciting, dramatic Kristine Opolais. This role requires placid prettiness and that would not be one of La Opolais’s strengths. Filianoti should be right for Ruggero, though.

La Traviata. Diana Damrau’s Babypause again makes this one questionable, but whoever ends up signing Violetta, it will almost be worth it solely for the novelty value of Placido as Papa Germont.

Les Troyens. It’s a big opera, possibly the Biggest opera. The casting and the Luisi conducting is not the most reassuring, but Karen Cargill as Anna! She’s good. Graham should be good in this too. And we could always hope that this happens at some point. (HD January 5)

Il Trovatore. Throw another baby on the fire. Who is conductor Daniele Callegari?

Turandot. Timur is double-cast with James Morris and Samuel Ramey. Whose wobble will be bigger?

I welcome your company as we all try to make the website crash at noon tomorrow!

Rigoletto photo copyright Nick Heavican, Tempest costume by Kym Barrett, no credit listed for Alagna.

You may also like


  1. Great overview. And I'm with you on Elisir for opening night – seems a bit bizzare. Or maybe the Met think that as long as Trebs is singing then it doesn't actually matter what the opera is?

  2. perhaps a bit cruel………but rather spot on! quite enjoyable – especially as i (on the whole) concur. michael

  3. Just so you know, Francesca da Rimini is not a
    verismo opera. It's an odd hybrid of styles that ends up somewhere between romanticism and modernism, but there's nothing remotely verismic in it. You should give it a listen – it's a fabulous work.

  4. van den Heever is singing Leonora in Trovatore at COC in the fall. I'll be seeing it on October 5. Vargas and Braun singing in that one too. There's also a Robert Carsen Dialogues in the spring with Bayrakdarian and Pieczonka that looks quite tasty.

    I'm a bit worried too about the Ades. I'll go see the HD and I do still have some faith in Lepage. The Ring was a stinker but some of his other work has been really good so maybe he can hit form again.

  5. I understand that Gelb wants to refresh the Met, but why does he hire such a second-rate directors? Bartlett Sher or Brodway directors have really nothing to do with opera. Met is still a conservative, uncreative opera company and so are most of Met productions. They aren't modern in any sense of this word, they are just dull and old fashioned, even when sets are 'modern' and don't evoke Zeffirelli at all. Met lacks of ideas and direction, it is a MESS. More Carsen (btw. his brillant Onegin is going to be replaced by new ENO production from ENO in 2013), more Jones plus some more interesting names frome Europe (Tcherniakov, Guth, Pelly eg).
    Sorry for this dramatic comment, but I am just higly disapointed by two previous Met seasons. 2012/2013 looks no better, I wait only for Joyce DiDonato's Maria Stuarda and I am curious about Damrau's Violetta. And maybe The Tempest. Yet another Rigoletto (set in Las Vegas, soooo innovationg) and L'elisir d'amore don't make impression on me.

  6. On the whole, I agree with your questions. Also with @Siggy's comment. If it's Netrebko, then plug in the autotune and anything goes.
    'course I'd rather see Elisir set in Vegas than Rigoletto, and look forward to Diana in Rigoletto and esp Traviata with Placido as big daddy. Yes and Joyce on New Year's eve.