New productions of “Porgy and Bess,” “Akhnaten” and “Wozzeck” headline the Met’s 2019-2020 season

Wed Feb 20, 2019 at 1:01 pm
Eric Owens and Adina Aaron star in Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" at Lyric Opera. Photo: Todd Rosenberg

Eric Owens (pictured with Adina Aaron) will star in Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess,” which will open the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019-2020 season on September 23. Photo: Todd Rosenberg/ Lyric Opera of Chicago

The Metropolitan Opera’s 2019-2020 season, announced Wednesday, will feature two of the most important American operas of the 20th century, with new productions of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and Philip Glass’s Akhnaten.

Porgy and Bess will open the season on September 23, conducted by David Robertson. The Gershwins’ opera has not graced the Met stage for nearly 30 years, and this return will be produced and directed by James Robinson (making his house debut) in collaboration with the Dutch National Opera and the English National Opera. This staging made a strong impression in its English premiere earlier this season, and will star bass-baritone Eric Owens as Porgy and soprano Angel Blue as Bess. The deep cast will also include Denyce Graves, Ryan Speedo Green, and Golda Schulz, and will run in two segments; the premiere performances closing October 16, and a run in January/February 2020 that will have Kevin Short and Elizabeth Llewellyn (in her Met debut) in the leads.

The performances of Akhnaten will be a Met premiere, and Phelim McDermott’s staging has already won the 2017 Olivier Award for best new opera production after its debut with the English National Opera. McDermott has already brought Glass’s Satyagraha to the Met, and this production was created for the ENO with LA Opera and Improbable. Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo has been highly praised as the revolutionary Egyptian pharaoh, and J’Nai Bridges will make her Met debut as Nefertiti. The production, which runs from November 8 to December 7, also integrates the Gandini Juggling Company with the score and stage action. Karen Kamensek, also making her Met debut, conducts.

Met artistic director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will be in the pit for a new production of Wozzeck, an opera that previous artistic director James Levine had made one of the high points of his tenure. Opening December 27, the great baritone Peter Mattei will play Wozzeck for the first time in his career, and soprano Elza van den Heever will sing Marie. This new production comes from William Kentridge, and will feature projections of his own animated charcoal drawings. Co-produced with the Salzburg Festival, Canadian Opera Company, and Opera Australia, the cast is filled out with Christopher Ventris as the Drum Major, Gerhard Siegel as the Captain, and Christian Van Horn as the Doctor, with Andrew Staples making his house debut as Andres. Wozzeck will run through January 22.

The Met will also bring Handel’s Agrippina to its stage for the first time (February 6 to March 7), in a production by David McVicar, revised from a previous 2000 staging in Brussels. The exceptional Handel conductor Harry Bicket will lead a cast that includes soprano Joyce DiDonato as the title Empress, Kate Lindsay as Nerone, Iestyn Davies as Ottone, and with soprano Brenda Rae making her Met debut as Poppea. Concurrently, Bicket will lead a revival of McDermott’s Coney Island-based production of Così fan tutte (February 15 – March 14), with Ben Bliss and Luca Pisaroni as Ferrando and Guglielmo, Nicole Car and Serena Malfi as Fiordiligi and Dorabella, Heidi Stober as Despina, and Gerald Finley as Don Alfonso.

The final new production for the upcoming season will be from François Gerard, whose Der Fliegende Holländer will follow on the footsteps of his acclaimed Met staging of Parsifal. Opening March 2, with Valery Gergiev conducting, Bryn Terfel will make his Met role debut as the ghostly Dutchman, and soprano Anja Kampe will sing Senta. The prominent feature of this production, brought in collaboration with L’Opéra de Québec and the Dutch National Opera, is the portrait of the Dutchman, which becomes the stage itself. Running through March 27, the cast also includes Franz-Joseph Selig as Daland and Sergey Skorokhodov as Erik.

Soprano Anna Netrebko returns September 25 in a revival of Macbeth, where for part of the six performances she will be opposite Placido Domingo and, later, Željko Lučić. Ending October 12, Netrebko herself will be spelled by Anna Pirozzi (her Met debut). Matthew Polenzani will sing Macduff and Ildar Abdrazakov, Banquo—Marco Armiliato conducts.

Other revivals include Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, with Jamie Barton and Hei-Kyung Hong as the mythical lovers, and Mark Wigglesworth conducting (October 20 – November 10). Richard Eyre’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro will run from November 16 to December 22, and will open with Pisaroni as Figaro, Nadine Sierra as Susanna, Susanna Phillips as the Countess, Gaëlle Arquez debuting as Cherubino, and Adam Plachetka as Count Almaviva; conductor Antonella Manacorda will debut at the Met for the opening performances.

Simon Rattle will lead Der Rosenkavalier (December 13 – January 4), with Camilla Nylund debuting as the Marschallan and Magdalena Kožená as Octavian. Robert LePage’s splashy production of Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust returns January 25 – February 15, with Bryan Hymel as Faust, Abdrazakov as Méphistophélès, Elīna Garanča as Marguerite, and Edward Gardner conducting. Janáček’s Káťa Kabanová closes the season with a three-performance run, May 2, 6, and 9, with soprano Susanna Phillips in the title role, Daniela Mack as Varvara, Stefan Margita as Tichon, and Paul Appleby as Vanya (Lothar Koenig conducts).

Soprano Lisette Oropesa will star in Manon, opening September 24 and running through October 26, then returning in 2020 to replace Aleksandra Kurzak as Violetta in La Traviata (January 14 – March 19). Sopranos Christina Goerke and Nina Stemme will share the role of Turandot in Puccini’s final opera, which opens October 3 and closes April 25, with Nézet-Séguin conducting. 

The Met will also stage revivals of Simon Boccanegra (April 14 – 25), Madama Butterfly (October 15 – April 11), La Bohème (October 25 – May 7), and Tosca (March 26 – April 18). Julie Taymor’s production of The Magic Flute returns for the holiday season, December 15 – January 4, with Joshua Hopkins as Papageno, and for the first time the Met has schedule Sunday matinées, with 16 performances slated for the upcoming season and that number set to increase in 2020-2021.

Next season, the Met will launch a new scheduling initiative with expansion of  Sunday matinees. Sixteen such performances are slated for the season, with a greater number promised for 2020-2021.; 212-362-6000


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