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LA TRAVIATA Returns Starring Angela Gheorghiu, Closes 4/24


Verdi's La Traviata returns to the Met with Angela Gheorghiu reprising her acclaimed interpretation of Violetta, a role the New York Times called a "supercharged star turn" when she performed it in 2006. Up-and-coming tenor James Valenti makes his Met debut as Alfredo, and Thomas Hampson returns to his celebrated portrayal of Germont, his first Met performance of the complete role since 2000. Leonard Slatkin conducts. For the final performance on April 24, Hei-Kyung Hong brings her touching portrayal of Violetta back to the Met stage. The production, which premiered in 1998, is by Franco Zeffirelli, who also designed the sets. Costumes are by Raimonda Gaetani, Duane Schuler is the lighting designer, and choreography is by Maria Benitez. Performances run through April 24.

About the Performers
Angela Gheorghiu brings her arresting portrayal of Violetta back to the Met, an interpretation of the tragic role that had the Associated Press declaring, "Gheorghiu triumphs in Traviata." The AP hailed the Romanian soprano for her "captivating performance that left some wet eyes in the audience as Violetta collapsed and died at the final curtain." Gheorghiu most recently appeared on the Met stage as Mimì in La Bohème, stepping in at the last minute for an ailing Anna Netrebko. Last season, Gheorghiu performed the role of Adina in L'Elisir d'Amore to great acclaim, and also delivered a celebrated performance of Magda in Nicolas Joël's new production of Puccini's La Rondine, seen worldwide as part of The Met: Live in HD series. Next season, Gheorghiu reprises her Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, a role she last performed at the Met in 1998. Gheorghiu made her Met debut in 1993 as Mimì in La Bohème and has excelled in such mainstays of the Met repertory as Micaëla in Carmen, Marguerite in Faust, Liù in Turandot, and Amelia in Simon Boccanegra. In 2008, Gheorghiu, together with tenor Roberto Alagna and the Met Orchestra, gave a wildly popular free concert in Brooklyn's Prospect Park before a crowd of thousands. Gheorghiu was also featured in the Met's landmark 125th Anniversary Gala on March 15, 2009, singing an aria from Faust and a duet from Simon Boccanegra, opposite Plácido Domingo.

James Valenti makes his Met debut as Alfredo. In 2006, when the American tenor sang the role at the Theâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Le Soir called him, "the revelation of the evening. The timbre of his voice is radiant, his projection natural, and his musicality omnipresent." A 2002 Met National Council winner, Valenti has performed a range of lyric and bel canto roles with companies such as La Scala, New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Hamburg's State Opera, and the Canadian Opera. Last season, Valenti won the Dallas Opera's Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year Award. His other engagements this season include his debut with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, as Alfredo; an appearance as the Duke in Rigoletto at Maggio Musicale, Florence; as Rodolfo in La Bohème for the Minnesota Opera; and as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly for the Vancouver Opera.

Illustrious American baritone Thomas Hampson returns as Germont, a role he most recently performed opposite Renée Fleming and Joseph Calleja at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, where his delivery was saluted by the Independent for achieving "an agonizing intensity." Last season, Hampson starred at the Met in the title role of Eugene Onegin and as Athanaël in John Cox's new production of Thaïs, seen worldwide as part of The Met: Live in HD series. Hampson, who made his Met debut in 1986 as Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, counts three additional great Verdi roles beyond Germont in his Met repertoire: Rodrigo in Don Carlo, the title role of Simon Boccanegra, and Don Carlo in Ernani. Hampson's Met repertoire also includes the roles of Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, the title role of Billy Budd, and Amfortas in Parsifal, as well as the title roles in the Met premiere of Doktor Faust (2001) and in Marthe Keller's new production of Don Giovanni (2004). Hampson is the founder of the Hampsong Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the art of song. Hampson currently serves as the New York Philharmonic's first ever Artist-in-Residence.

Korean-American soprano Hei-Kyung Hong reprises the role of Violetta, which she last sang on the Met stage in 2007. Hong has performed a wide and varied repertoire at the Met, portraying Zerlina in Don Giovanni in the 1994-95 season, again in 2000 (including in the season's Opening Night gala), and in 2004 in Marthe Keller's new production. Hong made her Met debut in 1984 as Servilia in La Clemenza di Tito and has also performed the roles of Barbarina, Susanna, and Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Despina in Così fan tutte, Ilia in Idomeneo, and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. Also at the Met, Hong has portrayed Mimì in La Bohème, Liù in Turandot, Micaela in Carmen, the Celestial Voice in Don Carlo, and Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

Leonard Slatkin, who made his Met debut in the 1991-92 season with a new production of La Fanciulla del West and has since conducted Samson et Dalila, returns to the Met podium for the first time in 12 years. The American maestro is music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and principal guest conductor of both the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also served as music director of the Saint Louis Symphony (1979-1996) and is now the orchestra's conductor laureate; festival director of the Cleveland Orchestra's Blossom Festival (1990-99), chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (2000-2004), and principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl (2004-2007). Slatkin has been honored with the National Medal of Arts (2003) and France's Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur, among other awards.

Live Broadcasts Around the World
La Traviata will be experienced by millions of people around the world this season on the radio and the internet, through distribution platforms the Met has established with various media partners.
The March 29 premiere as well as the April 7 and 17 performances will be broadcast live on the Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS channel 78 and XM channel 79.
The April 17 matinee will also be broadcast live over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.
The March 29 premiere will also be streamed live via RealNetworks internet streaming on the Met's website

About the Met
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 was 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 and the firm Herzog & 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 Marlis Petersen and Simon Keenlyside, conducted by Louis Langrée and directed by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser in their Met debuts.

The Met's 2010-11 season will feature seven new productions, including two company premieres (John Adams's Nixon in China and Rossini's Le Comte Ory), as well as the first two installments of a new production of Wagner's epic Der Ring des Nibelungen, conducted by James Levine and directed by Robert Lepage (Das Rheingold and Die Walküre). Also featured will be new productions of three repertory classics -- Boris Godunov conducted by Valery Gergiev, directed by Peter Stein, Don Carlo conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and directed by Nicholas Hytner, and La Traviata conducted by Gianandrea Noseda and directed by Willy Decker. John Adams makes his Met conducting debut with Nixon in China, with Peter Sellars making his Met directorial debut. Maurizio Benini conducts Le Comte Ory, with Bartlett Sher directing his third production here following his recent successful stagings of IL Barbiere di Siviglia and Les Contes d'Hoffmann.
Building on its 78-year radio broadcast history-currently heard over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network-the Met now uses advanced media distribution platforms and state-of-the-art technology to attract new audiences and reach millions of opera fans around the world.

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 1000 theaters in 44 countries around the world and last season sold more than 1.8 million tickets. These performances began airing on PBS in March 2008, and thirteen 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 more than 200 historic audio recordings, and almost 100 full-length opera videos are available, including 28 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 Met is also host to the National Council Auditions, the culmination of a series of competitions in search of the next generation of opera singers, held annually in 45 districts and 15 regions throughout the United States and Canada. The National Council Auditions are sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council. Given the reach of the auditions, the number of applicants, and the long tradition associated with them, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions are considered the most prestigious in North America for singers seeking to launch an operatic career. The National Council Audition process was recently captured in an acclaimed documentary by award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke, The Audition, which was shown on PBS and released on DVD.

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. The first work to be produced from this program will be Nico Muhly's debut opera (as yet untitled), set to a libretto by Craig Lucas. A co-production with the English National Opera, the opera will be directed by Bartlett Sher, debuting at the ENO's London Coliseum in June 2011 and at the Met during its 2013-14 season.

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. 

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