Premieres of “Fiery Angel” and “Dead Man,” new stagings of “Aida,” “Magic Flute” and “Don Giovanni” in Met’s 2020-21 season

Fri Feb 14, 2020 at 11:40 am
Evgeny Nikitin and Svetlana Sozdateleva in Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel, which will have its Metropolitan Opera debut, opening November 12. Photo: Alfons Altman/Bavarian State Opera

In the Metropolitan Opera’s 2020-21 season, something quite old will be new again. The house—which has been putting Aida on stage since the 19th century—will retire the 32-year-old Sonja Frisell production, and Verdi’s opera will be getting a makeover courtesy of Michael Mayer, whose Rat Pack-era Las Vegas production of Rigoletto was an important step forward in the house’s rejuvenating of standard repertory.

Aida will open the upcoming season September 21 and the initial run will star Anna Netrebko as Aida, with tenor Piotr Beczała as Radamès, and Met artistic director Yannick Nézet-Séguin in the pit. The production will run through December 12, with Latonia Moore and Hibla Gerzmava taking later turns in the title role, and Marcelo Álvarez replacing Beczała. Nézet-Séquin will be spelled first by John Keenan and then Pier Giorgio Morandi.

Mozart’s Die Zaubeflöte and Don Giovanni will also receive new productions in place of two relatively recent stagings—the former in Julia Taymor’s beloved staging, the latter in a serviceable version from Michael Grandage that debuted in 2011.

Die Zauberflöte comes via director Simon McBurney in Met debut, with a staging co-produced with the Dutch National Opera, English National Opera, and Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. The cast includes Stanislas de Barbeyrac as Tamino, Christiane Karg as Pamina, Thomas Oliemans in his Met debut as Papagano, while Kathryn Lewek returns for her astonishing take on the Queen of the Night. Gustavo Dudamel will conduct, and opening night is New Year’s Eve. The production will run through January 30, then return in May and June with new singers, including Kang Wang as Tamino and Lucy Crowe as Pamina, with Cornelius Meister conducting (May 23 – June 5).

The new Don Giovanni will open March 1, 2021 and run through May 20 (with cast changes). This production comes from Tony winning director Ivo van Hove, who has already presented impressive updates on A View from the Bridge and West Side Story. The great Peter Mattei returns in the role of Don Giovanni, countered by Gerald Finley’s Leporello (who will step into the role of the Don later in the run) with Ailyn Pérez and Isabel Leonard as Donna Anna and Donna Elvira, respectively. Yannick Nézet-Séguin will conduct the opening run, later replaced by Gareth Morrell and then Antonello Manacorda.

For the first time, the Met will present both Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel and Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. Barry Kosky, whose production of Die Zauberflöte rivals anything seen currently in opera houses, will stage The Fiery Angel in what should be an exciting Met debut. The November 12 opening will star Evgeny Nikitin as Ruprecht and Svetlana Sozdateleva, with Michail Jurowski conducting. Both Sozdateleva and Jurowski will be making their own house debuts, and the production will run through December 5.

Dead Man Walking opens April 8, 2021 and runs through May 2. This new production features Joyce DiDonato as Sister Helen Prejean and Joseph De Rocher as Etienne Dupuis, with Susan Graham appearing as Mrs. De Rocher. Nézet-Séguin will conduct before being replaced by Kensho Watanabe, who will be debuting at the Met.

Repertory productions will include Carmen (opening October 2) with J’Nai Bridges in the title role and conductor Lorenzo Viotti debuting (the production, which continues through the following March 12, brings in alternates Ramona Zaharia, Clémentine Margaine, and Varduhi Abrahamyan in the lead, with Marco Armiliato stepping into the pit). There will be a short series of performances of Tristan und Isolde, October 17 – November 6, with Christine Goerke and Stuart Skelton in the lead roles, and conductor Hartmut Haenchen, a seasoned Wagnerian, making his debut.

With performances on and surrounding Beethoven’s 250th birthday on December 17, Fidelio returns from November 30 to December 23. Nézet-Séguin opens the run as conductor, later replaced by Patrick Furrer. Lise Davidsen will sing Leonore, Brandon Jovanovich (later Carl Tanner) sings Florestan, with Franz-Josef Selig as Rocco, Tomasz Konieczny as Don Pizzaro, and Golda Schulz and Sidney Mancasola splitting the role of Marzelline. Soprano Brenda Rae, who made her Met debut this season in Agrippina, will sing Lulu in a revival of William Kentridge’s much-praised production of Berg’s opera (March 5 – 20, 2021). Sebastian Weigle is slated to conduct.

Sonya Yoncheva sings Rusalka, March 16 – April 6, joined by Ekaterina Gubanova, Beczała, and Eric Owens—conductor Jakub Hrůša will make his first appearance at the Met for this revival. There will be something of an Agrippina reunion, as conductor Harry Bicket, will lead countertenors Iestyn Davies and Anthony Roth Costanzo, soprano Kristina Mkhitaryan, mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey, and baritone Duncan Rock, in another David McVicar Handel opera production, Giulio Cesare. This will open March 2, 2021, and run for six performances through March 21. 

The Met will present five performances of Britten’s Billy Budd (May 21 – June 5, 2021), with Matthew Polenzani as Captain Vere, Joshua Hopkins as Billy, and Matthew Rose as Claggart—Simone Young will conduct.

Along with Aida, Verdi will be heard via Mayer’s La Traviata (October 24 through May 8), Pérez, Anita Hartig, and Lisette Oropesa sharing the role of Violetta; Il Trovatore will run from October 30 through May 29, in another McVicar production, with two different casts featuring Yoncheva, Anita Rachvelishvili, Quinn Kelsey, and Ryan Speedo Green; Marco Armiliato will conduct Nabucco from March 26 through May 15, with Oksana Dyka and Netrebko sharing the singing of Abigaille and George Gagnidze in the title role.

Franco Zeffirelli’s La Bohème might also be in need of an update—it will return November 21 and conclude April 17. Nicole Car, Angela Gheorghiu, Eleonora Buratto, and Angel Blue will all appear as Mimi while Piero Pretti, Dmytro Popov, and Polenzani share Rodolfo. Polenzani will also sing Hoffman in Barlett Sher’s production of Les Contes d’Hoffman (September 22 thought October 16).

The new season will expand the Sunday matinée schedule, with 22 performances scheduled, and the Met promises “onstage post-performance discussions with the stars” at each of the Sunday performances. With Taymor’s Zauberflöte replaced, the family- friendly holiday production will once again be Hansel and Gretel, which will run from December 15 through January 8. Edward Gardner will conductor, while Hera Hyesang and Mané Gaolyan will sing Gretel, Elizabeth DeShong and Sasha Cooke will split Hansel, and John Daszak will appear as the Witch.

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