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L'Elisir d' Amore Returns To The MET Starring Gheorghiu 3/31

Donizetti's comic masterpiece L'Elisir d'Amore returns to the Met with Angela Gheorghiu reprising her acclaimed portrayal of Adina and three tenors singing the role of Nemorino for the first time with the company: Massimo Giordano, Rolando Villazón, and Joseph Calleja. Other members of the cast also making role debuts include Franco Vassallo as Belcore and Simone Alaimo as the quack Doctor Dulcamara. In the final two performances, Nicole Cabell sings the role of Adina for the first time at the Met. Maurizio Benini conducts all performances, which begin March 31 and run through April 22. The production is by John Copley; Beni Montresor created the set and costume designs and Gil Wechsler the lighting design.

When Angela Gheorghiu sang Adina at the Met in 1999, the New York Times critic said "her singing had an appealing fluidity, ample variety and an admirable consistency from top to bottom." Earlier this season, Gheorghiu sang the role of Magda opposite her husband Roberto Alagna as Ruggero in the Met's new production of La Rondine that opened on New Year's Eve. More recently she appeared in the Met's 125th Anniversary Gala on March 15, singing an aria from Faust and a duet from Simon Boccanegra opposite Plácido Domingo. Next season she will sing the title role of Carmen for the first time on any stage in Richard Eyre's new production. Carmen will be transmitted worldwide as part of The Met: Live in HD. The Romanian soprano also reprises the role Violetta, one of her most renowned interpretations. Last season, she sang Mimì in La Bohème, which was transmitted Live in HD. Mimì was the role of her Met debut in 1993. Gheorghiu's other roles at the Met include Marguerite in Faust, Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, Amelia in Simon Boccanegra, Liù in Turandot, and Micaëla in the premiere of Franco Zeffirelli's production of Carmen (1996).

Nicole Cabell, who made her debut earlier this season as Pamina in The Magic Flute, sings Adina in the season's final two performances of L'Elisir d'Amore. Next season she will make her Met role debut as Musetta in La Bohème. The young American soprano earned international attention as the 2005 winner of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. Her other engagements this season include Léila in Les Pêcheurs de Perles at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, her first Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro at Cincinnati Opera, and Micaëla in Carmen at Berlin's Deutsche Oper.

Massimo Giordano sings the role of Nemorino for the first time at the Met after having added two other roles to his repertory with the company earlier this season: Alfredo in La Traviata and Rodolfo in La Bohème. The Italian tenor made his Met debut in 2006 as Des Grieux in Manon and sang Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi in Jack O'Brien's new production of Il Trittico in 2007 (part of The Met: Live in HD series).

With Nemorino, Rolando Villazón makes his second Met role debut of the season following his first Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor with the company in January. Next season, for the first time at the Met, the Mexican tenor sings the title role in a new production of Les Contes d'Hoffmann, by Bartlett Sher, which will be transmitted as part of The Met: Live in HD series. Villázon made his Met debut opposite Renée Fleming in La Traviata in 2003. Since then he has appeared as Rodolfo in La Bohème, the Duke in Rigoletto, and headlined a special gala performance with Anna Netrebko in 2007, celebrating the Met's 40th anniversary at Lincoln Center.

Joseph Calleja sings Nemorino opposite Nicole Cabell in the season's final L'Elisir d'Amore. He made his Met debut in 2006 as the Duke in Rigoletto, a role he reprises this season from April 1 to 17. He also participated in the Met's 125th Anniversary Gala on March 15, singing Rodolfo's famous Act I aria from La Bohème. Last season he sang Macduff in Macbeth at the Met. This season the Maltese tenor sings Rodolfo at the San Francisco Opera; the Duke in Rigoletto at the Hamburg State Opera and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich; Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor at the Frankfurt Opera and Berlin's Deutsche Oper; and Alfredo in La Traviata at the Vienna State Opera and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.

Franco Vassallo sings Belcore for the first time at the Met. He made his debut in one of his favorite roles, Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, in 2005, sang it again last season, and will reprise it next season. He has also performed Riccardo in I Puritani, which was transmitted as part of The Met: Live in HD series in 2007. The Milanese baritone sings major roles in the Italian and French repertoire, including Marcello in La Bohème (Royal Opera, Covent Garden), Germont in La Traviata (Berlin's Deutsche Opera), Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor (Los Angeles Opera, Vienna State Opera), Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera (Bavarian State Opera), and Valentin in Faust (San Carlo, Naples).

Italian bass-baritone Simone Alaimo, a bel canto specialist, made his Met debut as Assur in Semiramide in 1993 and in 1995 sang the title role of Le Nozze di Figaro. With Dulcamara, he adds another buffo role to his Met repertoire, which includes Don Magnifico in the Met premiere of Cenerentola (1997), the title role in the 2006 new production of Don Pasquale, and Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia (1996).

Maurizio Benini returns to the opera and the production of his 1998 Met debut. Since then he has conducted frequently at the Met, largely in the bel canto repertoire and in works of Verdi. Last season he was on the podium for Norma, and next season he returns to conduct Il Barbiere di Siviglia, which he also led at the premiere of Bartlett Sher's production in the 2006-2007 season. He also led the production when it was transmitted worldwide live in HD. The Italian maestro also conducted the Met's 2006 new production of Don Pasquale, as well as Luisa Miller, Rigoletto, La Traviata, and Faust.

Live broadcasts around the world

L'Elisir d'Amore 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 Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS channel 78 and XM channel 79 will broadcast the season premiere on March 31, in addition to the performances on April 4 (matinee), 15 and 22. The performance on March 31 will also be available via RealNetworks internet streaming at the Met's web site

The Saturday matinee performance on April 4 will be broadcast live over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.

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 Metropolitan Opera's 2008-09 season pays tribute to the company's extraordinary history on the occasion of its 125th anniversary, while also emphasizing the Met's renewed commitment to advancing the art form. The season features six new productions, 18 revivals, the final performances of Otto Schenk's production of Wagner's Ring cycle conducted by Levine, and two gala celebrations; the galas include the season-opening performance featuring Renée Fleming as well as a 125th anniversary celebration on March 15. New productions include the company premiere of John Adams's Doctor Atomic as well as the Met's first staged production of Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust since 1906, Massenet's Thaïs, Puccini's La Rondine, Verdi's Il Trovatore, and Bellini's La Sonnambula.

The Met's recently announced 2009-10 season will feature eight new productions, four of which are Met premieres. Opening night will be 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, conducted by Riccardo Muti in his Met debut; Shostakovich's The Nose, conducted by Valery Gergiev and directed and designed by William Kentridge in his Met debut; and Rossini's Armida with Renée Fleming, directed by Mary Zimmerman. Other new productions are Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann, conducted by Levine and directed by Bartlett Sher; Carmen with Angela Gheorghiu in the title role, 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.

Building on its 77-year-old 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 Award-winning The Met: Live in HD series reached more than 935,000 people in the 2007-08 season, more than the number of people who saw performances in the opera house. These performances began airing on PBS in March 2008, and nine of these HD performances are now available on DVD. The most recent, The Magic Flute, was released by the Met and is available at the newly renovated Met Opera Shop. The other eight are on the EMI, Deutsche Grammophon, and Decca labels. In the 2008-09 season, the HD series expanded to feature 11 live transmissions, starting with the Met's Opening Night Gala and spanning the entire season. The HD productions are seen this season in over 850 theaters in 36 countries around the world. Five new productions are featured, including the Met premiere of John Adams's Doctor Atomic. The Opening Night transmission was seen in the Americas only; the remaining ten high-definition productions are shown live worldwide on Saturdays through May 9 with encores scheduled at various times.

Live in HD in Schools, the Met's new 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, reached more than 7,000 public school students and teachers during the 2007-08 season. This season, Live in HD in Schools expanded to reach schools in 18 cities and communities nationwide.

Continuing its innovative use of electronic media to reach a global audience, the Metropolitan Opera recently introduced Met Player, a new subscription service that makes its extensive video and audio catalog of full-length performances available to the public for the first time online, and in exceptional, state-of-the-art quality. The new service currently offers 140 historic audio recordings, and more than 50 full-length opera videos are available, including over a dozen 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 both 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 77-year broadcast history.

In addition to providing audio recordings through the new 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.

The Met has launched several audience development initiatives such as the company's Open House Dress Rehearsals, which are free and open to the public. This season's first was for La Damnation de Faust on November 4, and the second was for La Sonnambula on February 27. Just prior to beginning the current season, the Met presented a free performance of the Verdi Requiem on September 18, in tribute to the late Luciano Pavarotti. Other company initiatives include the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Gallery Met which exhibits contemporary visual art; the new $25 Weekend Tickets program; the immensely successful Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman Rush Ticket program; and an annual Holiday Series presentation for families. This season's special Holiday Presentation was Julie Taymor's production of Mozart's The Magic Flute, an abridged, English-language version of the opera which received four special matinee performances and one holiday evening performance as a way for families to celebrate the holiday season.


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