Bartlett Sher's Acclaimed Il Barbiere di Siviglia Returns To The Met

Bartlett Sher's Acclaimed Il Barbiere di Siviglia Returns To The Met

Bartlett Sher's hit production of Rossini's comic masterpiece, Il Barbiere di Siviglia ("The Barber of Seville"), returns to the Met stage on October 3. Joyce DiDonato stars in the role of Rosina, with Barry Banks in his first Met performances as Count Almaviva and Rodion Pogossov in his company role debut as Figaro. John Del Carlo sings the role of Dr. Bartolo, and Orlin Anastassov makes his Met role debut as Don Basilio. Maurizio Benini conducts.

In later performances Diana Damrau reprises her much-admired portrayal of Rosina with Rossini specialist Lawrence Brownlee as the Count. Franco Vassallo sings the title role, while Roberto Scandiuzzi and Samuel Ramey alternate as Don Basilio, and Maurizio Muraro takes over as Dr. Bartolo.

Sher's inventive production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia opened in 2006 to sterling reviews and sold-out houses and was seen worldwide as part of The Met: Live in HD series. The renowned theater director brought his Tony Award-winning production team from The Light in the Piazza and Awake and Sing!-set designer Michael Yeargan, costume designer Catherine Zuber, and lighting designer Christopher Akerlind-to the Met to create the innovative staging. For the first time at the Met, the production introduced a passerelle, or walkway, that extends from the stage around the rim of the orchestra pit and into the audience. The Wall Street Journal said the show was "lighthearted and blissfully funny," and called the passerelle "a stroke of genius...it was thrilling to have those voices close, without the orchestra pit in between."

Fall performances run through November 7, and the opera returns to the repertory for three more performances from February 26 to March 4.

"The perky, rich-toned and vocally brilliant young American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato had a triumph as Rosina," the New York Times said when DiDonato sang the role in 2007. That year, opera-goers around the world saw her on screen in the Live in HD transmission of Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Last season, DiDonato sang a concert of Mozart and Rossini works with the MET Orchestra and Music Director James Levine in Carnegie Hall. She was the host for the Live in HD transmission of Orfeo ed Euridice. She made her Met debut as Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro in 2005 and also appeared as Stéphano in a new production of Roméo et Juliette. This season she also sings Rosina at La Scala and, in her company debut, at the Los Angeles Opera. She also makes her role debut as Cherubino at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and performs Elena in a new production of La Donna del Lago at the Geneva Opera and the Paris Opera. DiDonato won the prestigious Beverly Sills Artist Award in 2007.

Diana Damrau returns as Rosina, which she sang at the premiere of this production in 2006. The Associated Press wrote: "In Diana Damrau, the Met has a Rosina with an edge. The German soprano has a sweet sound and a powerhouse upper register." This season, Damrau adds Marie in La Fille du Régiment to her Met repertoire and sings Strauss works in a Carnegie Hall concert with the MET Orchestra and Music Director James Levine in January. Last season she added two landmark coloratura roles to her repertory with the company, the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor and Gilda in Rigoletto. Since her sensational Met debut in 2005 as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, she has performed Aithra in the new production of Strauss's rarely-performed Die Ägyptische Helena and played three Mozart roles, Pamina and Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte (the first soprano in Met history to sing both roles in one season) as well as Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

British tenor Barry Banks, who makes his company role debut as Count Almaviva, will also play Carlo this season in the Met premiere of Rossini's Armida. He made his debut as Flute in the 1996 Met premiere of A Midsummer Night's Dream and also appeared as the Fisherman in Le Rossignol and the Shepherd in Oedipus Rex. However, he is best known for bel canto roles such as the two he sang last season at the Met: Elvino in La Sonnambula and Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore. He has also appeared here as Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Tonio in La Fille du Régiment, Pedrillo in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Lindoro in L'Italiana in Algeri, and Prince Ramiro in La Cenerentola.

Lawrence Brownlee returns as Count Almaviva, the role of his 2007 Met debut. "He has mastered the bel canto technique of fast runs, trills, and ornamentation that Rossini requires, and stopped the show with his acrobatics in the aria ‘Cessa di più resistere,'" the Associated Press said on that occasion. Later this season he returns as Rinaldo in the Met premiere of Armida opposite Renée Fleming. Last season the young American tenor, who was a 2001 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions winner, sang Prince Ramiro in La Cenerentola, which was transmitted around the world as part of The Met: Live in HD series. A bel canto specialist, he recently sang Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore (Caramoor Festival), Lindoro in L'Italiana in Algeri (Teatro Verdi, Trieste; Opera Company of Philadelphia), Giannetto in La Gazza Ladra (Teatro Comunale, Bologna), Narciso in Il Turco in Italia (Deutsche Oper, Berlin), Tonio in La Fille du Régiment (Hamburg State Opera), and Arturo in I Puritani (Seattle Opera).

Rodion Pogossov made his 2001 Met debut as Fiorello in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and now takes on Figaro for the first time with the company. The Russian baritone sings another comic role this season, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, which he sang at the premiere of Julie Taymor's new production in 2004 as well as in last season's revival. A graduate of the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, he has also appeared as Marullo in Rigoletto and has sung with the MET Chamber Ensemble and Music Director James Levine in Weill Recital Hall.

Franco Vassallo returns to the role of his 2005 Met debut, Figaro. Last season Vassallo was Belcore in another bel canto comedy, L'Elisir d'Amore. In 2007, audiences around the world saw the Italian baritone as Riccardo in the Live in HD transmission of
I Puritani, now available in DVD. A native of Milan, he has recently sung Don Alfonso in Lucrezia Borgia (Bavarian State Opera) as well as Ezio in Attila and Germont in La Traviata (both at the Hamburg State Opera), and this season performs the title roles in two Verdi operas, Rigoletto (Dresden State Opera) and Macbeth (Bavarian State Opera).

American bass-baritone John Del Carlo reprises Dr. Bartolo, which he performed when the production premiered in 2006 and when it was transmitted live in HD in 2007. This season he expands his Met repertoire with the Sacristan in Tosca and returns to the role of the other Dr. Bartolo in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro. Last season he was the Prince de Bouillon in Adriana Lecouvreur and the Speaker in Die Zauberflöte. Since his Met debut in 1993 as Kothner in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, he has appeared frequently with the company and was heard in four Met premieres: Balducci in Benvenuto Cellini (2003), Alfieri in A View from the Bridge (2002), Baron Zeta in The Merry Widow (2000), and Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1996). He has also sung Swallow in Peter Grimes, seen live in HD, and the title role in Don Pasquale.

Italian bass Maurizio Muraro returns as Dr. Bartolo, He made his Met debut in 2005 with the same character, but in a different opera, Le Nozze di Figaro. This season he also makes his company role debut as Sulpice in La Fille du Régiment. In European opera houses, Muraro has sung numerous bel canto roles (Oroveso in Norma, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, the title role in Don Pasquale, Dulcamara in L'Elisir d'Amore), Verdi characters (Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra and Philip II in Don Carlo), and 20th-century parts such as Truelove in The Rake's Progress and Milord Runebif in Wolf-Ferrari's La Vedova Scaltra.

Orlin Anastassov is adding two new roles to his Met repertory this season: Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Ramfis in Aida. The Bulgarian bass, who won first prize in Plácido Domingo's Operalia competition in 1999, made his 2008 Met debut as Alvise in La Gioconda. He sings many Verdi roles, including Padre Guardiano in La Forza del Destino (San Francisco Opera), the title role in Attila (Royal Opera, Covent Garden), Ferrando in Il Trovatore (Paris Opera), and Philip II in Don Carlo (Royal Opera, Covent Garden), as well as bel canto roles, such as Oroveso in Norma (Rome Opera).

Roberto Scandiuzzi also makes two Met role debuts this season: as Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Ramfis in Aida. He made his company debut in 1995 as Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra and went on to sing a wide variety of parts including Padre Guardiano in the 1996 new production of La Forza del Destino, Dosifei in Khovanshchina, Arkel in Pelléas et Mélisande, and Timur in Turandot.

American bass Samuel Ramey returns to one of his signature roles, Don Basilio. Though he has sung almost 300 performances at the Met since his debut as Argante in the company premiere of Handel's Rinaldo in 1984, he continues to add to his repertoire: this season he makes his role debut as Timur in Turandot. He celebrated his 25th anniversary at the Met last season, singing both Leporello in Don Giovanni and Rambaldo in a new production of La Rondine, which was transmitted worldwide as part of The Met: Live in HD series. He has participated in a number of Met premieres: as Pagano in I Lombardi, Rev. Olin Blitch in Susannah, and Kutuzov in War and Peace. In addition, he played the four villains in Les Contes d'Hoffmann on Opening Night in 1992 and has appeared in many new productions: in the title roles of Don Giovanni (1990), Mefistofele (1999), and Bluebeard's Castle (1989), as Nick Shadow in The Rake's Progress (1997), as Assur in Semiramide (1990), and as Zaccaria in Nabucco (2001).

Maestro Maurizio Benini returns to this production, which he conducted at its premiere and when it was transmitted as part of The Met: Live in HD series. Last season he conducted L'Elisir d'Amore and was on the podium for Live in HD transmission of La Cenerentola. A native of Faenza, Italy, Benini made his Met debut with L'Elisir d'Amore in 1998 and has since conducted the new production of Don Pasquale (2006) as well as Norma, Faust, Rigoletto, La Traviata, and Luisa Miller.

Il Barbiere di Siviglia will be heard by people around the world this season on the radio and the web, through distribution platforms the Met has established with various media partners.

The season premiere on October 3 as well as performances on October 8, 27, November 4, and March 1 will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS channel 78 and XM channel 79. The performance on November 4 will also be available via RealNetworks internet streaming at the Met's web site, www.metopera.org.

Under the leadership of General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine, the Met has a series of bold initiatives underway that are designed to broaden its audience and revitalize the company's repertory. The Met has made a commitment to presenting modern masterpieces alongside the classic repertory, with highly theatrical productions featuring the greatest opera stars in the world.

The Met's 2009-10 season features eight new productions, four of which are Met premieres. Opening night is a new production of Tosca starring Karita Mattila, conducted by Levine and directed by Luc Bondy. The four Met premieres are: Janá?ek's From the House of the Dead, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and directed by Patrice Chéreau, both in Met debuts; Verdi's Attila starring Ildar Abdrazakov, conducted by Riccardo Muti and directed by Pierre Audi, with set and costume design by Miuccia Prada, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, all in their Met debuts; Shostakovich's The Nose featuring Paulo Szot, conducted by Valery Gergiev and directed and designed by William Kentridge in his Met debut; and Rossini's Armida with Renée Fleming, conducted by Riccardo Frizza and directed by Mary Zimmerman. Other new productions are Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann starring Joseph Calleja, Anna Netrebko, and Alan Held, conducted by Levine and directed by Bartlett Sher; Carmen with El?na Garan?a and Roberto Alagna, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and directed by Richard Eyre, both in Met debuts; and Thomas's Hamlet with Natalie Dessay and Simon Keenlyside, conducted by Louis Langrée and directed by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser in their Met debuts.

The Emmy and Peabody Award-winning The Met: Live in HD series returns for its fourth season in 2009-10 with nine transmissions, beginning October 10 with the new production of Tosca and ending with the new production of Rossini's Armida on May 1. The productions are seen in more than 900 theaters in 42 countries around the world and last season sold more than 1.8 million tickets. These performances began airing on PBS in March 2008, and nine HD performances are now available on DVD. The Magic Flute was released by the Met and is available at the newly renovated Met Opera Shop. In addition, two classic Met performances from 1978 have recently been released by the Met: Otello, conducted by Levine with Jon Vickers and Renata Scotto; and Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci conducted by Levine, with Tatiana Troyanos and Plácido Domingo in the first part of the double bill and Teresa Stratas, Plácido Domingo, and Sherrill Milnes in the latter. The Met: Live in HD series is made possible by a generous grant from the Neubauer Family Foundation. Bloomberg L.P. is the global corporate sponsor of The Met: Live in HD.

HD Live in Schools, the Met's program offering free opera transmissions to New York City schools in partnership with the New York City Department of Education and the Metropolitan Opera Guild, continues for a third season. This season, for the second consecutive year the program will reach public school students and teachers in 18 cities and communities nationwide. HD Live in Schools is made possible by Bank of America.

Continuing its innovative use of electronic media to reach a global audience, the Metropolitan Opera last season introduced Met Player, a new subscription service that makes much of the company's extensive video and audio catalog of full-length performances available to the public for the first time online in exceptional, state-of-the-art quality. The new service currently offers over 170 historic audio recordings, and almost 100 full-length opera videos are available, including 24 of the company's acclaimed The Met: Live in HD transmissions, known for their extraordinary sound and picture quality. New content, including HD productions and archival broadcasts, are added monthly.

Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM Radio is a subscription-based audio entertainment service broadcasting an unprecedented number of live performances each week throughout the Met's entire season, as well as rare historical performances, newly restored and remastered, spanning the Met's 78-year broadcast history.

In addition to providing audio recordings through the Met on Rhapsody on-demand service, the Met also presents free live audio streaming of performances on its website once every week during the opera season with support from RealNetworks®.

The company's groundbreaking commissioning program in partnership with New York's Lincoln Center Theater (LCT) provides renowned composers and playwrights with the resources to create and develop new works at the Met and at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater. The Met's partnership with LCT is part of the company's larger initiative to commission new operas from contemporary composers, present modern masterpieces alongside the classic repertory, and provide a venue for artists to nurture their work. A new work by composer Nico Muhly and playwright Craig Lucas goes into workshop this fall.

The Met audience development initiatives include Open House Dress Rehearsals, which are free and open to the public; the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Gallery Met, which exhibits contemporary visual art; the immensely successful Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman Rush Ticket program; and an annual Holiday Presentation for families. This season's special Holiday Presentation is Richard Jones's English-language production of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, which is given four matinee performances and four evening performance as a way for families to celebrate the holiday season.