Met cancels entire 2020-21 season but will offer an audacious 21-22 lineup

Thu Sep 24, 2020 at 1:10 pm

Davóne Tines (standing), Jeremy Denis and Karen Slack in the 2019 world premiere of Fire Shut Up in My Bones at the Opera Theater of St. Louis. Photo: Camille Mahs

The Metropolitan Opera issued a dual announcement Wednesday afternoon—one part was disappointing, the other hopeful. 

The Met has cancelled the remainder of the currently postponed 2020-21 season due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. On the brighter side, the company detailed its plans for the 2021-22 season, which the house anticipates will go off as scheduled.

In the announcement, the Met declared it was following the recommendations of “health officials who advise the Met and Lincoln Center.” The time it would take for a potential vaccine to work its way through a sufficient part of the population was too great to salvage next spring’s portion of what would have been the current season.

Instead, the focus is on September, 2021 and the opening night Met premiere of Fire Shut Up in My Bones. Composed by Terrence Blanchard to a libretto by Kasi Lemmons, the opera is based on the memoir of the same title by New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow. The work had its world premiere last year at the Opera Theater of St. Louis. Performing will be baritone Will Liverman and sopranos Angel Blue and Latonia Moore, with Met music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting. The production will be directed by James Robinson and Camille A. Brown, who staged last season’s Porgy and Bess. Opening night is September 27.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones will be one of three contemporary premieres at the Met—the most there since 1928. Matthew Aucoin’s Eurydice and Brett Dean’s Hamlet will also hit the stage, on November 23 and May 13, 2022 respectively. These three operas are half of the six new productions that the Met is planning, with Bartlett Sher’s delayed Rigoletto opening New Year’s Eve, the Met debut of the original five-act French version of Verdi’s epic, monumental Don Carlos (produced by Sir David McVicar and opening February 28, 2022), and a new staging of Lucia di Lammermoor, from Simon Stone, scheduled for April 23, 2022.

Blanchard is the first African-American composer to have a work performed at the Met, and the house has named three additional black composers to their new Metropolitan Opera Lincoln Center Theater New Works commissioning program: Valerie Coleman, Jessie Montgomery, and Joel Thompson.

Along with the major new works/productions, General Manager Peter Gelb announced the house is doing some logistical tinkering at the margins, including a “large number” of 7 p.m. curtain times, along with cuts to Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov and Handel’s Rodelinda, to shorten their running times. The holiday production will be an abridged, English-language version of Massenet’s Cinderella, opening December 17.

Notable revivals will include Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, with Lise Davidsen, Klaus Florian Vogt, and Michael Volle, with Sir Antonio Pappano conducting; Davidsen will sing the title role in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos; Nina Stemme sings ElektraMadama ButterflyToscaTurandot, and La Bohème return, the latter two in Franco Zeffirelli’s productions; Anthony Roth Costanzo returns in Philip Glass’s sensational Akhnaten; and the final revival of the season will be Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, opening May 30, 2021.

In addition to the operas, Anna Netrebko and Sonya Yoncheva will present solo recitals October 10 and January 23, respectively. The Met Orchestra’s June, 2021 Carnegie Hall concerts have been cancelled, but the orchestra, chorus, Nézet-Séguin, soprano Ailyn Pérez, tenor Matthew Polenzani, and bass-baritone Eric Owens will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks with a performance of Verdi’s Requiem.

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