Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Though the "season" is still a ways off, this week brings a fully staged show to the city: Janacek's great Jenufa, last seen here five years ago. That was a starry Met cast featuring the greatest operatic performer, Karita Mattila; this is a more modest offering by William Hobbs' Opera Slavica. Two separate casts will perform this Thursday and Friday night at Czech Center New York's Bohemian National Hall.

Real opera before Labor Day at a conveniently located UES venue? Seems like a good deal for $20 (advance) / $25 (door).

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Meanwhile, Carnegie Hall has opened its box office to non-subscribers as of Monday. Your choices may vary -- there are plenty of non-vocal offerings of interest -- but highlights are likely to include Joyce DiDonato's Handel concert (November 18 in the big hall), Dorothea Röschmann's lieder recital (January 23 at Zankel), and -- if Rolando Villazon (or somebody...) can actually sing the tenor part -- Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra performing Verdi's Requiem (October 23).

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Met 2012-13 quick buyer's guide

Before tomorrow's opening of the Met box office to public single ticket sales (noon ET on the internet), a look at what's changed since the initial season announcement.

Elisir: TBA (as Dulcamara) is now Erwin Schrott for the January/February run. Interesting, though I suspect Maestri will be the more humane option.

Trovatore: TBA (as Manrico) is now Welsh tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones for the fall run. More significantly, Sondra Radvanovsky is now too busy with Ballo (see below) to sing Leonora mid-October, and we will instead see the debut of Chinese soprano Guanqun Yu, a second-prize winner in this summer's Operalia competition.

Otello: In perhaps the biggest announced improvement, Placido Domingo's semi-pro conducting will no longer mar the March run, with Alain Altinoglu instead on the podium. The March cast (Cura, Stoyanova, and Hampson) is still rather curious -- and a less sure bet than the fall lineup (Botha, Fleming, and Struckmann -- the former two fantastic together in 2008) -- but it will now at least be worth sampling.

Ballo: Karita Mattila is out as Amelia and Sondra Radvanovsky in. Doesn't take much luster off this particular show, but now the Met will have an entire season without Mattila. Radvanovsky and Hvorostovsky have made magic before in this music, though I expect their tenor co-star Alvarez to be more professional and admirable than electrifying.

Don Carlo: Not quite sure why (it's two months after the final Ballo), but Radvanovsky is also out as Elisabetta here, with Barbara Frittoli as the replacement. I'm not sure why she's still considered a star, but Frittoli is usually quite committed despite up-and-down vocalism. In any case, the male lineup here (Vargas, Hvorostovsky, Furlanetto, and Halfvarson) are still remarkable, though the production is not.

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Quick classifications, in basic priority order both overall and within each category...

Yes!... if the production doesn't bomb
Maria Stuarda

Sure to please
Otello (fall)
Figaro / Don Giovanni (it's the season of Abdrazakov)
Carmen (don't miss Lee)

Could really be something
Don Carlo
The Tempest
Troyens (Graham for sure; who knows about Voigt and Giordani?)
Otello (spring)
Rigoletto (spring)

Only if you like that sort of thing
Elisir (Netrebko)
Francesca da Rimini (Italian late-Romantic melodrama)
Rigoletto (winter) (excellent singing + off-target acting)
Giulio Cesare (David Daniels, or you really like Dessay)
Rondine (rolling the dice on the lead soprano)
Turandot (rolling the dice on lead tenors)
Barber (kids' version)

No, just no
Comte Ory