There is a day in every American opera lover's life which he/she looks forward to all year long. Wondering... guessing... dreaming...
Yep, you have named it right - it is the day when the Met calendar for the new season finally comes out.
So, it's here and as usual, full of old and new exciting offerings.
I mean it: Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Gounod, Wagner, Puccini, and certainly Handel - to name just a few.
Wonderful operas featuring all wonderful artists, favored by this blog. In short, great perspectives.
A few pleasant surprises too.
Remember me dwelling on and on about the beautiful Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu, who sang Edgardo in the WNO's Lucia at the end of last year? Well, my friends, Mr. Pirgu has made it to the next Met season as none other but Alfredo, singing opposite Diana Damrau's Violetta and Placido Domingo's Germont. (Apparently, yours truly does have a good ear for voices. She knows a good one when she hears it.)
So if you are fine with the concept of Willy Decker's "red dress production", you are guaranteed to spend the most glorious evening at the Met.
Another surprise: Nathan Gunn is jumping into the role of Raimbaud, a friend of Le Comte Ory's, sung by (who else did you think?) Juan Diego Florez. Good role for Nathan Gunn - he will be great in it. And of course, Juan Diego, amazing in every role he takes up, is an unmatchable Ory.
Moreover, in the coming season we've got Zeljko Lucic as Rigoletto, Joyce DiDonato as Maria Stuarda, Anna Netrebko as Adina, Elina Garanca as Sesto, Piotr Beczala as (brace yourselves!!!) the Duke of Mantua, Nimarino and Faust, Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Renato and Rodrigo, Renee Fleming as Desdemona, and - I could really go on forever...
However, shocked as you may be to hear it, I am a tad disappointed with this season. Even though the Met has always managed to balance modernized and conservative productions in its repertoir, unfortunately, proportionally the balance is different this year. The way I see it, modernized productions are pushing out conservative ones.
All right, maybe this critic has reviewed too many modernized productions lately, but she is definitely getting tired of not being able to enjoy her opera due to poorly concepted directions.
Do not mistake my meaning - I love a production with a refreshingly modern touch, such as Sher's Il Barbiere or Le Comte Ory. I love a production with visial effects and projected images, such as Mc Dermott/Crouch's Enchanted Island and Lepage's La Damnation de Faust. you get my point: as long as modernization happens for a good reason and does not kill the opera, I am all for it.
What I do not appreciate is poorly justified or completely unjustified modernization, such as ladies in mini skirts and fishnets in Cadillacs and gentlemen in leather and blue jeans on motor cycles singing words that have never been written in (or even considered for) the original librettos.
Whatever happened to the conservatively beautiful and romantic opera?
Remember it? It was pretty great. Where did the camisoles and red-heeled shoes, powdered wigs and crinolines go?
Does "new" equal "crazy and vulgar" these days? And if so, is the word "beautiful" now a synonym of "old-fashioned"?
For me, this is not opera re-birth. Rather, the beginning of its end.
Hence, my next question.
If things do not get better, how long will it be before you hear me say "I don't like opera"?
I just hope that some stage director stumbles upon this post and puts a little more beauty into his next "new version".
I don't care if you get angry with me, Mr. Stage Director - you are entitled to that. Just bring opera back to us. We deserve it!