TICKETS: $22 Adult / $20 Senior / $15 Student with ID
November 8, 2014 Saturday at 12:55pm Tickets
ENCORE: November 19, 2014 Wednesday at 6:30pm Tickets
Richard Eyre’s mesmerizing production of Bizet’s steamy melodrama returns with mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili singing her signature role of the ill-fated gypsy temptress. Aleksandrs Antonenko plays her desperate lover, the soldier Don José, and Ildar Abdrazakov is the swaggering bullfighter, Escamillo, who comes between them. Pablo Heras-Casado conducts the irresistible score, which features one beloved and instantly recognizable melody after another.
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on the novella by Prosper Mérimée
World premiere: Paris, Opéra Comique, March 3, 1875
Spain. In Seville by a cigarette factory, soldiers comment on the townspeople. Among them is Micaëla, a peasant girl, who asks for a corporal named Don José. Moralès, another corporal, tells her he will return with the changing of the guard. The relief guard, headed by Lieutenant Zuniga, soon arrives, and José learns from Moralès that Micaëla has been looking for him. When the factory bell rings, the men of Seville gather to watch the female workers—especially their favorite, the gypsy Carmen. She tells her admirers that love is free and obeys no rules. Only one man pays no attention to her: Don José. Carmen throws a flower at him, and the girls go back to work. José picks up the flower and hides it when Micaëla returns. She brings a letter from José’s mother, who lives in a village in the countryside. As he begins to read the letter, Micaëla leaves. José is about to throw away the flower when a fight erupts inside the factory between Carmen and another girl. Zuniga sends José to retrieve the gypsy. Carmen refuses to answer Zuniga’s questions, and José is ordered to take her to prison. Left alone with him, she entices José with suggestions of a rendezvous at Lillas Pastia’s tavern. Mesmerized, he agrees to let her get away. As they leave for prison, Carmen escapes. Don José is arrested.
Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercédès entertain the guests at the tavern. Zuniga tells Carmen that José has just been released. The bullfighter Escamillo enters, boasting about the pleasures of his profession, and flirts with Carmen, who tells him that she is involved with someone else. After the tavern guests have left with Escamillo, the smugglers Dancaïre and Remendado explain their latest scheme to the women. Frasquita and Mercédès are willing to help, but Carmen refuses because she is in love. The smugglers withdraw as José approaches. Carmen arouses his jealousy by telling him how she danced for Zuniga. She dances for him now, but when a bugle call is heard he says he must return to the barracks. Carmen mocks him. To prove his love, José shows her the flower she threw at him and confesses how its scent made him not lose hope during the weeks in prison. She is unimpressed: if he really loved her, he would desert the army and join her in a life of freedom in the mountains. José refuses, and Carmen tells him to leave. Zuniga bursts in, and in a jealous rage José fights him. The smugglers return and disarm Zuniga. José now has no choice but to join them.
Carmen and José quarrel in the smugglers’ mountain hideaway. She admits that her love is fading and advises him to return to live with his mother. When Frasquita and Mercédès turn the cards to tell their fortunes, they foresee love and riches for themselves, but Carmen’s cards spell death—for her and for José. Micaëla appears, frightened by the mountains and afraid to meet the woman who has turned José into a criminal. She hides when a shot rings out. José has fired at an intruder, who turns out to be Escamillo. He tells José that he has come to find Carmen, and the two men fight. The smugglers separate them, and Escamillo invites everyone, Carmen in particular, to his next bullfight. When he has left, Micaëla emerges and begs José to return home. He agrees when he learns that his mother is dying, but before he leaves he warns Carmen that they will meet again.
Back in Seville, the crowd cheers the bullfighters on their way to the arena. Carmen arrives on Escamillo’s arm, and Frasquita and Mercédès warn her that José is nearby. Unafraid, she waits outside the entrance as the crowds enter the arena. José appears and begs Carmen to forget the past and start a new life with him. She calmly tells him that their affair is over: she was born free and free she will die. The crowd is heard cheering Escamillo. José keeps trying to win Carmen back. She takes off his ring and throws it at his feet before heading for the arena. José stabs her to death.
Il Barbiere di Siviglia
November 22, 2014 Saturday at 12:55pm Tickets
ENCORE: December 3, 2014 Wednesday at 6:30pm Tickets
(The Barber of Seville)
The Met’s effervescent production of Rossini’s classic comedy – featuring some of the most instantly recognizable melodies in all of opera – stars Isabel Leonard as the feisty Rosina, Lawrence Brownlee as her conspiring flame, and Christopher Maltman as the endlessly resourceful and charming barber, himself. Michele Mariotti conducts the vivid and tuneful score.
Libretto by Cesare Sterbini, based on the play Le Barbier de Séville by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais
World premiere: Rome, Teatro Argentina, February 20, 1816
Seville. Count Almaviva comes in disguise to the house of Doctor Bartolo to serenade Rosina. Bartolo keeps her confined to the house, and Almaviva decides to wait until daylight. Figaro the barber, who knows all the town’s secrets and scandals, arrives. He explains to Almaviva that Rosina is Bartolo’s ward, not his daughter, and that the doctor intends to marry her. Figaro devises a plan: the Count will disguise himself as a drunken soldier quartered at Bartolo’s house to gain access to the girl. Almaviva is excited while Figaro looks forward to a nice cash pay-off.
Rosina reflects on the voice that has enchanted her and resolves to use her considerable wiles to meet the Count, who she thinks is a poor student named Lindoro. Bartolo appears with Rosina’s music master, Don Basilio, who warns him that Count Almaviva, Rosina’s admirer, has been seen in Seville. Bartolo decides to marry Rosina immediately. Basilio suggests slander as the most effective means of getting rid of Almaviva. Figaro, who has overheard the plot, warns Rosina and promises to deliver a note from her to Lindoro. Suspicious, Bartolo tries to prove that Rosina has written a letter, but she outwits him at every turn. Angry at her defiance, Bartolo warns her not to trifle with him.
Almaviva arrives, disguised as a drunken soldier, and secretly passes Rosina a note, while Bartolo argues that he has exemption from billeting soldiers. Figaro announces that a crowd has gathered in the street, curious about all the noise coming from inside the house. The civil guard bursts in to arrest Almaviva but when he secretly reveals his true identity to the captain he is instantly released. Everyone except Figaro is amazed by this turn of events.
Bartolo suspects that the “soldier” was a spy planted by Almaviva. The Count returns, this time disguised as Don Alonso, a music teacher and student of Don Basilio. He has come to give Rosina her music lesson in place of Basilio, who, he says, is ill at home. “Don Alonso” also tells Bartolo that he is staying at the same inn as Almaviva and has found the letter from Rosina. He offers to tell her that it was given to him by another woman, seemingly to prove that Lindoro is toying with Rosina on Almaviva’s behalf. This convinces Bartolo that “Don Alonso” is indeed a student of Don Basilio and he allows him to give Rosina her music lesson. She sings an aria, and, with Bartolo dozing off, Almaviva and Rosina express their love.
Figaro arrives to give Bartolo his shave and manages to snatch the key that opens the balcony shutters. Suddenly Basilio shows up looking perfectly healthy. Almaviva, Rosina, and Figaro convince him with a quick bribe that he is sick with scarlet fever. Basilio leaves, confused but richer. Almaviva plots with Rosina to elope that night while Bartolo gets his shave. When the doctor hears the phrase “my disguise,” he furiously realizes he has been tricked again. Everyone leaves.
The maid Berta comments on the crazy household. Basilio is summoned and told to bring a notary so Bartolo can marry Rosina that evening. Bartolo then shows Rosina her letter to Lindoro. Heartbroken and convinced that she has been deceived, she agrees to marry Bartolo and tells him of the plan to elope with Lindoro. A storm passes. Figaro and the Count climb over the wall. Rosina is furious until Almaviva reveals his true identity. Basilio arrives with the notary. Bribed and threatened, he agrees to be a witness to the marriage of Rosina and Almaviva. Bartolo appears with soldiers, but it is too late. Almaviva explains to Bartolo that it is useless to protest and Bartolo accepts that he has been beaten. Figaro, Rosina, and the Count celebrate their good fortune.
Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
December 17, 2014 Wednesday at 6:30pm Tickets
ENCORE: January 7, 2015 Wednesday at 6:30pm Tickets
James Levine returns to one of his signature Wagner works conducting this epic comedy—back at the Met for the first time in eight years—about a group of Renaissance “master singers” whose song contest unites a city. Johan Reuter, Johan Botha, and Annette Dasch lead the superb international cast in this charming and magisterial celebration of the power of music and art.
Libretto by the composer
World premiere: Munich, Court Opera, June 21, 1868
Nuremberg, 16th century. At St. Katherine’s Church, the visiting young knight Walther von Stolzing approaches Eva, daughter of the wealthy goldsmith Pogner, who is attending mass with her companion, Magdalene. Eva tells her admirer that she is to be engaged the following day to the winner of a song contest held by the local guild of mastersingers. David, Magdalene’s sweetheart and apprentice to the cobbler and mastersinger Hans Sachs, explains the rules of song composing to Walther, who is surprised by the complicated ins and outs of mastersinging. Meanwhile David’s fellow apprentices set up for a preliminary trial singing. The masters arrive, including Eva’s father, and Walther expresses his desire to become a mastersinger in order to ask for Eva’s hand. The town clerk Beckmesser, a spiteful pedant who also wants to marry Eva, is immediately suspicious of the young knight. As proof that tradesmen value art, Pogner offers his daughter’s hand as the prize for the next day’s contest and explains that she can reject the winner, but must marry a mastersinger or can marry no one. Walther introduces himself and describes his natural, self-taught methods of musical composition, provoking mocking comments from Beckmesser. For his trial song, Walther sings an impulsive tune in praise of love and spring, breaking many of the masters’ rules. Beckmesser vigorously keeps a count of his errors. Rejected by the masters, Walther leaves, while Sachs wonders about the unexpected appeal of Walther’s song.
That evening in front of Pogner’s house, David tells Magdalene about Walther’s misfortune and Eva gets the disappointing news from Magdalene. Across the street, Sachs sits down to work in his doorway, but the memory of Walther’s song distracts him. Eva appears, hoping to learn more about the knight’s trial. When Sachs mentions that Beckmesser hopes to win her the next day, she suggests she wouldn’t be unhappy if Sachs himself won the contest. Sachs, who has known Eva since she was a child, responds with paternal affection. Asked about Walther, he pretends to disapprove of the young man, which leads Eva to reveal her true feelings and to run off. In the street, she is met by Walther who convinces her to elope. The two hide as a night watchman passes. Sachs, who has overheard their conversation, decides to help the lovers but prevent their flight. He lights the street with a lantern, forcing Eva and Walther to stay put. Meanwhile Beckmesser arrives to serenade Eva. As he is about to begin, Sachs launches into a cheerful cobbler’s song, much to the clerk’s irritation, claiming he needs to finish his work. They agree that both would make progress if Beckmesser were to sing while Sachs marked any broken rules of style with his cobbler’s hammer. Beckmesser finally sings his song, directing it at Magdalene who is impersonating Eva at a window of Pogner’s house. Sachs frequently interrupts with hammer strokes, to Beckmesser’s mounting anger. Walther and Eva observe the scene from their hiding place, bewildered at first, then amused. Confusion increases when David appears and attacks Beckmesser for apparently wooing Magdalene. Finally the night-shirted neighbors, roused from sleep, join in the general tumult until the sound of the night watchman’s horn disperses them. Pogner leads Eva inside while Sachs drags Walther and David into his shop. The night watchman passes through the suddenly deserted street.
The next morning in Sachs’s workshop, David apologizes for his unruly behavior. Alone, Sachs reflects on the world’s madness. Walther arrives to tell Sachs of a wondrous dream he had. Recognizing a potential prize song, Sachs takes down the words and helps Walther to fashion them according to the rules of mastersinging. When they leave to dress for the contest, Beckmesser appears. He notices Walther’s poem and, mistaking it for one of Sachs’s own, pockets it. The returning cobbler tells him to keep it. Certain of his victory with a song written by Sachs, Beckmesser leaves. Now Eva arrives, pretending there is something wrong with her shoe. Walther returns, dressed for the festival, and repeats his prize song for her. Eva is torn between her love for Walther and her affection for Sachs, but the older man turns her towards the younger. When Magdalene arrives, Sachs promotes David to journeyman and asks Eva to bless the new song. All five reflect on their happiness—Sachs’s tinged with gentle regret—then leave for the contest.
Guilds and citizens assemble in a meadow outside the city. The masters enter and the people cheer Sachs, who responds with a moving address in praise of art and the coming contest. Beckmesser is the first to sing. Nervously trying to fit Walther’s verses to his own music he makes nonsense of the words, earning laughter from the crowd. He furiously turns on Sachs and runs off. Walther then steps forward and delivers the song. Entranced, the people proclaim him the winner, but Walther refuses the masters’ necklace. Sachs convinces him to accept—tradition and its upholders must be honored, as must those who create innovation. Youth and age are reconciled, Walther has won Eva, and the people once again hail Sachs.
The Merry Widow
January 18, 2015 Saturday at 12:55pm Tickets
ENCORE: February 4, 2015 Wednesday at 6:30pm Tickets
The great Renée Fleming stars as the beguiling femme fatale who captivates all Paris in Lehár’s enchanting operetta, seen in a new staging by Broadway virtuoso director and choreographer Susan Stroman (The Producers, Oklahoma!, Contact). Stroman and her design team of Julian Crouch (Satyagraha, The Enchanted Island) and costume designer William Ivey Long (Cinderella, Grey Gardens, Hairspray) have created an art-nouveau setting that climaxes with singing and dancing grisettes at the legendary Maxim’s. Nathan Gunn co-stars as Danilo and Kelli O’Hara is Valencienne. Andrew Davis conducts.
Libretto by Victor Léon and Leo Stein, based on the play L’Attaché d’Ambassade by Henri Meilhac
English translation by Jeremy Sams
World premiere: Theater an der Wien, Vienna, December 30, 1905
Live in HD transmission and radio broadcast
January 17, 2015
The Pontevedrian ambassador in Paris, Baron Mirko Zeta, is giving a ball at the embassy. His home country is nearly bankrupt and he hopes that their Parisian guests will help them raise the money they need. He’s pleased when he sees his young wife, Valencienne, flirting with Camille de Rosillon, a young Frenchman, assuming she’s trying to win French support for Pontevedro. In fact, Camille has declared his love for Valencienne and writes “I love you” on her fan. Zeta eagerly awaits the arrival of the guest of honor, Hanna Glawari, a wealthy Pontevedrian widow. He plans to get Danilo Danilovitch, a womanizing aristocrat and the embassy secretary, to marry her so that her millions will stay in Pontevedro. Hanna arrives and is showered with compliments by the Parisian men. Valencienne realizes she has lost her fan with Camille’s incriminating message and rushes out to look for it. Finally Danilo arrives, fresh from a night of partying at Maxim’s. He and Hanna talk, revealing that they were once in love, but that Hanna was considered too far beneath Danilo’s status for him to marry her. He tells her he’s not interested in marriage and will never say “I love you.” Meanwhile, Zeta’s chief of staff, Kromow, finds Valencienne’s fan and thinks it belongs to his wife, Olga. Zeta, wanting to spare Olga the scandal, convinces him it is Valencienne’s. He then meets with Danilo and orders him to marry Hanna for the good of Pontevedro. Danilo tells him he will keep all the Parisian men away from her, but will not marry her. When the ladies choice dance is announced, Hanna selects Danilo, and after some flirtatious bantering the two finally dance.
The following day, Hanna hosts a party at her villa. Danilo arrives late, and Zeta commands him to return to his mission of keeping the Parisian men from Hanna—particularly Camille. Danilo’s assistant, Njegus, reveals that Camille is already in love with a mystery woman. Zeta wants to know who she is in order to marry her off to Camille, leaving Hanna free for a Pontevedrian suitor. He believes the fan is the key to her identity and asks Danilo to find its owner. When Hanna comes across the fan and sees its inscription, she assumes it is a gift to her from Danilo, but he still won’t say “I love you” and she will not accept him until he does. Their dance is interrupted by Zeta, who is still trying to learn the identity of Camille’s secret lover. The men agree to meet in the pavilion to discuss the matter. Camille and Valencienne finally find the missing fan, and this time Valencienne writes “I am a respectable wife” on it. Observed by Njegus, they disappear into the pavilion. When Zeta arrives to meet Danilo, Njegus prevents him from entering the pavilion to protect Valencienne’s secret and instead sneaks Hanna in to take her place. Hanna emerges with Camille, announcing their engagement. A furious Danilo departs for Maxim’s, which Hanna takes as proof of his love.
Arriving at Maxim’s in search of Danilo, Camille and Valencienne sneak off to one of the private rooms. Zeta and the other Pontevedrians appear, and the grisettes—among them a dressed-up Valencienne—entertain the crowd. Eventually both Danilo and Hanna arrive. He forbids her to marry Camille. When she explains that she was merely safeguarding another woman’s reputation, he is delighted but still won’t declare his love. As the guests reassemble, Danilo announces that Hanna will not marry Camille, but he will not reveal the identity of Camille’s secret lover. Njegus produces the missing fan, which he found in the pavilion. Zeta finally recognizes it as his wife’s, declares himself divorced, and proposes to Hanna—who informs him that, according to her late husband’s will, she will lose her fortune if she remarries. At this, the other men lose interest in Hanna, except Danilo, who finally declares his love and asks Hanna to marry him. She accepts and amends her account of the will: upon remarrying her fortune will pass to her new husband. Valencienne returns and asks Zeta to read the other side of her fan—she is a respectable wife. With the couples united, the men are left to wonder about the mystery of women.
Les Contes d'Hoffman
February 1, 2015 Saturday at 12:55pm Tickets
ENCORE: February 18, 2015 Wednesday at 6:30pm Tickets
(The Tales of Hoffmann)
The magnetic tenor Vittorio Grigolo takes on the tortured poet and unwitting adventurer of the title of Offenbach’s operatic masterpiece, in the Met’s wild, kaleidoscopic production. Soprano Hibla Gerzmava faces the operatic hurdle of singing all three heroines—each an idealized embodiment of some aspect of Hoffmann’s desire. Thomas Hampson portrays the shadowy Four Villains, and Yves Abel conducts the sparkling score.
Libretto by Jules Barbier, based on the play by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré (based on stories by E.T.A. Hoffmann)
World premiere: Paris, Opéra Comique, February 10, 1881
Luther’s tavern in a German town. The poet Hoffmann is in love with Stella, the star singer of the opera. Lindorf, a rich counselor, also loves her and has intercepted a note she has written to Hoffmann. Lindorf is confident he will win her for himself. Entering with a group of students, Hoffmann sings a ballad about a disfigured dwarf named Kleinzach. During the song, his mind wanders to recollections of a beautiful woman. When Hoffmann recognizes Lindorf as his rival, the two men trade insults. Hoffmann’s Muse, who has assumed the guise of his friend Nicklausse, interrupts, but the encounter leaves the poet with a sense of impending disaster. He begins to tell the stories of his three past loves...
The eccentric inventor Spalanzani has created a mechanical doll named Olympia. Hoffmann, who thinks she is Spalanzani’s daughter, has fallen in love with her. Spalanzani’s former partner Coppélius sells Hoffmann a pair of magic glasses through which he alone perceives Olympia as human. When Coppélius demands his share of the profits the two inventors expect to make from the doll, Spalanzani gives him a worthless check.
Guests arrive and Olympia captivates the crowd with the performance of a dazzling aria, which is interrupted several times in order for the doll’s mechanism to be recharged. Oblivious to this while watching her through his glasses, Hoffmann is enchanted. He declares his love and the two dance. Olympia whirls faster and faster as her mechanism spins out of control. During the melee Hoffmann’s glasses are broken. Coppélius, having discovered that the check was worthless, returns in a fury. He grabs Olympia and tears her apart as the guests mock Hoffmann for falling in love with a machine.
Antonia sings a plaintive love song filled with memories of her dead mother, a famous singer. Her father, Crespel, has taken her away in the hopes of ending her affair with Hoffmann and begs her to give up singing: she has inherited her mother’s weak heart, and the effort will endanger her life. Hoffmann arrives and Antonia joins him in singing until she nearly faints. Crespel returns, alarmed by the arrival of the charlatan Dr. Miracle, who treated Crespel’s wife the day she died. The doctor claims he can cure Antonia but Crespel accuses him of killing his wife and forces him out. Hoffmann, overhearing their conversation, asks Antonia to give up singing and she reluctantly agrees. The moment he has left Miracle reappears, urging Antonia to sing. He conjures up the voice of her mother and claims she wants her daughter to relive the glory of her own fame. Antonia can’t resist. Her singing, accompanied by Miracle frantically playing the violin, becomes more and more feverish until she collapses. Miracle coldly pronounces her dead.
The Venetian courtesan Giulietta joins Nicklausse in a barcarole. A party is in progress, and Hoffmann mockingly praises the pleasures of the flesh. When Giulietta introduces him to her current lover, Schlémil, Nicklausse warns the poet against the courtesan’s charms. Hoffmann denies any interest in her. Having overheard them, the sinister Dapertutto produces a large diamond with which he will bribe Giulietta to steal Hoffmann’s reflection for him—just as she already has stolen Schlémil’s shadow. As Hoffmann is about to depart, Giulietta seduces him into confessing his love for her. Schlémil returns and accuses Giulietta of having left him for Hoffmann, who realizes with horror that he has lost his reflection. Schlémil challenges Hoffmann to a duel and is killed. Hoffmann takes the key to Giulietta’s boudoir from his dead rival but finds the room empty. Returning, he sees her leaving the palace in the arms of the dwarf Pitichinaccio.
Having finished his tales, all Hoffmann wants is to forget. Nicklausse declares that each story describes a different aspect of one woman: Stella. Arriving in the tavern after her performance, the singer finds Hoffmann drunk and leaves with Lindorf. Nicklausse resumes her appearance as the Muse and tells the poet to find consolation in his creative genius.
IOLANTA Bluebeard's Castle
February 21, 2015 Saturday at 12:30pm Tickets
On the heels of her triumphant Met performances in Eugene Onegin, soprano Anna Netrebko takes on another Tchaikovsky heroine in the first opera of this intriguing double bill, consisting of an enchanting fairy tale (Iolanta) followed by an erotic psychological thriller (Bluebeard’s Castle). Netrebko stars as the beautiful blind girl who experiences love for the first time in Iolanta, while Nadja Michael is the unwitting victim of the diabolical Bluebeard, played by Mikhail Petrenko. Both operas are directed by Mariusz Trelinski, who was inspired by classic noir films of the 1940s. Iolanta also stars Piotr Beczala, and Valery Gergiev conducts both operas.
Libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky, based on the play King René’s Daughter by Henrik Hertz
World premiere: St. Petersburg, Mariinsky Theater, December 18, 1892
Live in HD transmission and radio broadcast February 14, 2015
Iolanta is blind. She lives a secluded life and is treated like a doll. A long time ago her father, King René, hid her from the world and placed her in the care of simple people, Martha and Bertrand. His greatest concern is for his daughter never to find out she is blind. He also doesn’t want the news of Iolanta’s blindness to reach Robert, her future husband. Iolanta is convinced that eyes are only for crying. But she is becoming anxious and has some vague presentiments.
Alméric arrives at Iolanta’s dwelling, announcing a visit from the King and a famous Moorish physician. The doctor’s diagnosis is clear: Iolanta must be told of her disability before treatment can begin. René says no.
Robert and Vaudémont appear at Iolanta’s house. They are overawed—the place seems to hide a secret, danger, they feel threatened. They meet Iolanta, not knowing who she is. Robert doesn’t realize she is his betrothed, whom he doesn’t want to marry because he loves someone else. Vaudémont is enchanted with the girl while Robert is worried by this mysterious place. Enthralled with Iolanta’s beauty, Vaudémont asks her to give him a red rose as a keepsake. Iolanta hands him a white one, twice. Vaudémont realizes that she can’t see. Iolanta has no idea what it means to see, she isn’t aware what she is missing. King René catches Vaudémont talking to Iolanta and is furious with him for revealing the secret to her. With no will of her own, Iolanta doesn’t even know whether she wants to be able to see—she will do anything her father tells her. This only confirms the doctor’s words that without an inner desire, no change is possible. To awaken her desire to regain her sight, the King threatens that if the treatment fails Vaudémont will be killed. Iolanta is healed and her father consents to her marriage to Vaudémont. But regaining her sight doesn’t bring Iolanta the expected deliverance. Blinded by the world, she can’t believe that the people she loves look the way they do. Her love for Vaudémont and the wedding ceremony subdue her fears.
Libretto by Béla Bálazs, after a fairy tale by Charles Perrault
World premiere: Budapest, Royal Opera House, May 24, 1918
Live in HD transmission and radio broadcast February 14, 2015
Judith has come to live with Bluebeard, having left her family home and her peaceful, ordered existence. Bluebeard’s secret mesmerizes her—she knows the terrifying rumors, she fears she may be on a road of no return, yet she decides to enter his home. The door closes. Judith confesses her love for Bluebeard, believing that it will change him and light up his gloomy home. She repeats her profession of love like a mantra as she demands that the doors to seven rooms be opened. The first one is a torture chamber, the second an armory. These rooms fill her with terror. The next doors conceal a treasury and a garden. Then Bluebeard shows his empire to Judith. She sees blood everywhere: on jewels, weapons, flowers. She doesn’t want to defer to Bluebeard who says, “Love me” and “Ask no questions.” Judith responds that she loves him and wants him to open up to her, reveal his inner self, uncover his fears. She demands that all the doors be opened. The sixth door, which conceals a sea of tears, is where Judith reaches the limit of knowledge. That leaves the seventh door. Behind it is a space beyond life, on the border of life and death. There are concealed Bluebeard’s previous wives. Passing through the seventh door, Judith joins them. She is made a part of Bluebeard’s space forever. The circle of her journey closes.
La Donna del Lago
March 21, 2015 Saturday at 12:55pm Tickets
Bel canto superstars Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez join forces for this Rossini showcase of vocal virtuosity, set in the medieval Scottish highlands and based on a beloved novel by Sir Walter Scott. DiDonato is the “lady of the lake” of the title, and Flórez is the king who relentlessly pursues her, their vocal fireworks embellishing the romantic plot in this Met premiere production conducted by Michele Mariotti.
Libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola, based on the poem The Lady of the Lake by Walter Scoitt
Premiere: Teatro San Carlo, Naples, October 24, 1819
Live in HD transmission and radio broadcast March 14, 2015
Loch Katrine, Stirlingshire, Scotland. Elena, the Lady of the Lake, makes her daily crossing while shepherds watch their flocks and men hunt in the woods. She sings of her love for Malcolm Groeme, but comes across King James, who has disguised himself as “Uberto,” hoping to meet the legendary beauty Elena. Believing the King to be a hunter who has lost his way, she offers him hospitality and they depart for her home, while the King’s men search for their disguised leader.
King James learns that Elena’s father is Duglas d’Angus, his former tutor, who has since joined the Highland Clan that is opposed to James’s rule. He also learns of Elena’s betrothal to Rodrigo di Dhu, the chief of the Highland Clan and enemy of the King, but his jealousy is assuaged by Elena’s lukewarm reaction to the prospect of her marriage. Malcolm, the suitor whom Elena loves, arrives shortly after James departs. Hidden, Malcolm must endure overhearing Duglas order his daughter to marry Rodrigo, as he commands. After Duglas has left, Malcolm and Elena pledge their love.
The Highland warriors gather to welcome their leader, Rodrigo, who introduces Elena as his future bride. Malcolm has now resolved to join the clan against the King, but his secret bond with Elena is perceived by Duglas and Rodrigo when they meet. When news arrives of an attack by the King’s army and the omen of a meteor passing in the sky, Rodrigo and his warriors depart for battle. Scotland is at war.
Still disguised as “Uberto,” James searches desperately for Elena, hoping to protect her from the coming bloodshed. When he finds her he once again declares his love, but she rejects his advances. He then gives her a ring which he claims was given to him by the King and will secure her protection from the King’s forces. Rodrigo, who has overheard the conversation, attempts to have his soldiers kill the stranger, but Elena intercedes. Rodrigo vows to duel with “Uberto” himself.
Meanwhile, Malcolm has left the battle in the hopes of finding Elena, but is informed she has followed her father to Stirling Palace to seek peace. Rodrigo is reported to have been killed and the Higlanders now face certain defeat. Malcolm declares that he will save Elena or face his own death. Elena enters the castle, determined to save the lives of her father, Malcolm, and Rodrigo. Using the ring she given to her by “Uberto” she gains access to the King’s chambers.
Elena is surprised to see nobles surrounding “Uberto,” who soon reveals his true identity. His feelings for her soften his attitude towards her father, and he pardons both Duglas and Malcolm. Elena and Malcolm are finally united, and all rejoice as a new peace reigns in Scotland.
Cavalleria Rusticana Pagliacci
April 25, 2015 Saturday at 12:30pm Tickets
ENCORE: May 6, 2015 Wednesday at 6:30pm Tickets
Opera’s most enduring tragic double bill returns in an evocative new production from Sir David McVicar, who sets the action across two time periods but in the same Sicilian village. Marcelo Álvarez rises to the challenge of playing the dual tenor roles of Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana and Canio in Pagliacci. Rae Smith (War Horse) has designed the moodily atmospheric 1900 village square setting of Cavalleria, which transforms to a 1948 truck stop for the doomed vaudeville troupe of Pagliacci. Eva-Maria Westbroek (Cav) and Patricia Racette (Pag) sing the unlucky heroines, and Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi is on the podium.
Libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci, based on a story and play by Giovanni Verga
World premiere: Rome, Teatro Costanzi, May 17, 1890
Live in HD transmission and radio broadcast April 25, 2015
A village in southern Italy. At dawn on Easter Sunday, Turiddu is heard in the distance singing about Lola, wife of the carter Alfio. She and Turiddu had been a couple before he went to join the army. When he returned and found her married to Alfio, he took up with Santuzza and seduced her, but now has abandoned her and rekindled his relationship with Lola. Later in the morning, a distraught Santuzza approaches the tavern of Mamma Lucia, Turiddu’s mother, who tells her that her son is away buying wine. But Santuzza knows that Turiddu has been seen during the night in the village. Alfio arrives with a group of men, boasting of his horses—and of Lola. He asks Mamma Lucia if she has any more of her good wine. When she says that Turiddu has gone to get more, Alfio replies that he saw the other man near his house that same morning. Lucia is surprised but Santuzza tells her to keep quiet. As the villagers follow the procession to church, Santuzza stays behind and pours out her grief about Turiddu to Mamma Lucia. The old woman expresses her pity, then also leaves for mass. Turiddu appears and is confronted by Santuzza about his affair with Lola but denies her accusations. Just then Lola passes by on her way to church. She mocks Santuzza, and Turiddu turns to follow her, but Santuzza begs him to stay and implores him not to abandon her. Turiddu refuses to listen and leaves, cursed by Santuzza. Alfio arrives, late for mass. Santuzza tells him that Lola went to church with Turiddu and reveals that his wife has been cheating on him. In a rage, Alfio swears to get even and rushes off, leaving behind the now conscience-stricken Santuzza.
Returning from the church the villagers gather at Mamma Lucia’s tavern. Turiddu leads them in a drinking song, but the atmosphere becomes tense when Alfio appears. He refuses Turiddu’s offer of wine and instead challenges him to a knife fight. Turiddu admits his guilt but is determined to go through with the fight, for Santuzza’s sake as well as for his honor. The two men agree to meet outside the village. Alone with his mother, Turiddu begs her to take care of Santuzza if he doesn’t come back, then runs off to the fight. As Mamma Lucia waits anxiously, shouts are heard in the distance. A woman runs in screaming that Turiddu has been killed.
Libretto by the composer
World premiere: Milan, Teatro dal Verme, May 21, 1892
Live in HD transmission and radio broadcast April 25, 2015
Tonio the clown announces that what the audience is about to see is a true story and that actors have the same joys and sorrows as other people.
A village in southern Italy. A small theatrical company has just arrived and Canio, the head of the troupe, advertises the night’s performance to the gathered crowd. One of the villagers suggests that Tonio is secretly courting Canio’s young wife, Nedda. Canio warns them all that he will not tolerate any flirting offstage—life and theater are not the same. As the crowd disperses, Nedda is left alone, disturbed by her husband’s jealousy. She looks up to the sky, envying the birds their freedom. Tonio appears and tries to force himself on her but she beats him back and he retreats, swearing revenge. In fact, Nedda does have a lover—Silvio, a young peasant, who suddenly appears. The two reaffirm their love and Silvio persuades Nedda to run away with him that night. Tonio, who has returned and overheard the end of their conversation, hurries off to alert Canio, but Silvio manages to slip away unrecognized. Canio violently threatens Nedda but she refuses to reveal her lover’s name. Beppe, another member of the troupe, restrains Canio, and Tonio advises him to wait until the evening’s performance to catch the culprit. Alone, Canio gives in to his despair—he must play the clown even though his heart is breaking.
That evening, the villagers assemble to watch the performance, Silvio among them. Beppe plays Harlequin, who serenades Columbine, played by Nedda. He dismisses her buffoonish servant Taddeo, played by Tonio, and over dinner the two lovers plot to poison Columbine’s husband Pagliaccio, played by Canio. When Pagliaccio unexpectedly appears, Harlequin slips away. Taddeo maliciously assures Pagliaccio of his wife’s innocence, which ignites Canio’s jealousy. Forgetting his role and the play, he demands that Nedda tell him the name of her lover. She tries to continue with the performance, the audience enthralled by its realism, until Canio snaps. In a fit of rage he stabs Nedda and then Silvio, who rushes to her aid. Turning to the horrified crowd, Canio announces that the comedy is over.