Marlis Petersen Stars In LULU At The Met, Opens 5/8
Alban Berg's modernist masterpiece Lulu returns to the Met, starring Marlis Petersen as the scandalous femme fatale and conducted by the Met's newly appointed Principal Guest Conductor Fabio Luisi. When Petersen performed Lulu in Chicago in 2008, the Chicago Tribune celebrated the German soprano's performance in the "murderously difficult title role," calling her "today's Lulu of choice in opera houses around the world." The cast includes the Met role debuts of Anne Sofie von Otter as the Countess Geschwitz, Gary Lehman as Alwa, Michael Schade as the amorous Painter, Bradley Garvin as the Animal Trainer/Acrobat, and James Morris as Dr. Schön. The production is by John Dexter, the sets and costumes are by Jocelyn Herbert, and the lighting designer is Gil Wechsler. Performances run through May 15.
In 1928, Alban Berg began to compose Lulu, his opera about an impetuous and ultimately ruined woman based on two plays by Frank Wedekind (Erdgeist and Die Büchse der Pandora). By the time of his death in 1935, Acts I and II were complete, with Act III yet to be fully scored. The onset of World War II halted any further work on Lulu, and Helene Berg, the composer's widow, staunchly opposed subsequent work on the opera until her death in 1976. Lulu had its Met premiere in 1977, conducted by Met Music Director James Levine (who was originally scheduled to conduct this revival of Lulu but cancelled due to back surgery). The current three-act version, completed by Austrian composer and conductor Friedrich Cerha, had its premiere at the Paris Opera in 1979, conducted by Pierre Boulez and staged by Patrice Chéreau. It premiered at the Met in 1980. Lulu is a gift of Mrs. Edgar M. Tobin and the Metropolitan Opera Club. The revival is a gift of Robert L. Turner.
About the performers
Marlis Petersen returns to the Met stage following her recent turn as Ophélie in Hamlet, in which she replaced Natalie Dessay on very short notice. Despite her minimal rehearsal time, Petersen delivered a performance the New York Times noted for her "bright, alluring, and agile voice." She has frequently performed in contemporary operas. Earlier this season, Petersen performed the title role of Medea at the Vienna State Opera, a world premiere opera written especially for her by Aribert Reimann. Petersen has performed in two other recent world premieres: Aphrodite in Henze's Phaedra at the Berlin State Opera in 2007 and Marta in Trojahn's La Grande Magia at the Dresden State Opera in 2008. Petersen made her Met debut in 2005 as Adele in Die Fledermaus, and is also well known elsewhere for her portrayals of Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos and Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail. She has performed at the Barvarian State Opera, the Berlin State Opera, and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, as well as the Aix-en-Provence Festival and the Bregenz Festival. Later this year, Petersen makes her Los Angeles Opera debut as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro.
Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter makes her Met role debut as the Countess Geschwitz. Following her 1988 Met debut as Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, von Otter has appeared in a range of roles at the Met for which she has won wide acclaim, including Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, Idamante in Idomeneo, Mélisande in Pelléas et Mélisande, and Orlofsky in Act II of Die Fledermaus at the Gala Opening Night of the 1991-92 season. She last appeared at the Met as Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito in 2005. Von Otter has also performed several times with James Levine and the MET Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, singing Marguerite in La Damnation de Faust, Judith in Bluebeard's Castle, and as soloist in Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde.
Gary Lehman made his Met debut in 2008 as Tristan in Tristan und Isolde, stepping in on short notice to perform one of the most difficult roles in the heldentenor repertory. He returned last season to sing Siegmund in Die Walküre under James Levine in the final performances of Otto Schenk's production of the Ring cycle. Elsewhere, Lehman has performed the title role in Parsifal (Los Angeles Opera), Florestan in Fidelio (Roanoke Opera), Erik in Der Fliegende Holländer (Savonlinna Festival), Stathis Borans in the United States premiere of The Fly (Los Angeles Opera), Samson (Orlando Opera), and the title role in Tannhäuser (Norwegian National Opera).
Michael Schade takes on the role of the Painter for the first time in his Met career. Last season, the Canadian tenor appeared as Nicias in a new production of Massenet's Thaïs, which was seen live in HD. Schade made his Met debut in 1993 as Jacquino in Fidelio and has also performed Alfred in Die Fledermaus, Count Almaviva in IL Barbiere di Siviglia, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni.
Bradley Garvin makes his Met role debut as the Animal Trainer/Acrobat, stepping in at late notice for David Pittsigner. Garvin made his Met debut in 1993 as Second Prisoner in Fidelio, and has since performed in more than a dozen operas at the Met, including La Fille du Régiment, Otello, Madama Butterfly, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, The Ghosts of Versailles, Billy Budd, Satyagraha, and Tosca. The American bass baritone is a winner of the Washington, D.C. International Vocal Competition, the Plácido Domingo's Operalia Competition, and a recipient of the William Matheus Sullivan Award.
With Dr. Schön/Jack the Ripper, James Morris adds a second role this season to his extensive Met repertoire, following his Met role debut as Claudius in the new production of Hamlet (seen live in HD). In his nearly 40 years at the Met, Morris has sung more than 50 roles, including the title roles of Le Nozze di Figaro, Der Fliegende Holländer, and Boris Godunov, the four villains in Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and King Philip in Don Carlo. Last season, Morris made his Met role debut as Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin and also reprised his widely acclaimed interpretation of Wotan in the Met's final staging of Otto Schenk's production of Der Ring des Nibelungen. Next season, his 40th at the Met, Morris returns to one of his signature roles, Scarpia in Tosca, as well as to the role of Frère Laurent in Roméo et Juliette, a role he last sang here in 1974.
Fabio Luisi was recently appointed Principal Guest Conductor at the Met. The maestro will take up his new post beginning with the 2010-11 season. Lulu is the fifth opera he conducts at the Met this season, following earlier performances of Elektra, Le Nozze di Figaro, Hansel and Gretel, and Tosca. In the 2010-11 season, the Italian maestro will return for Ariadne auf Naxos and Rigoletto. Luisi, who made his Met debut in 2005 with Don Carlo, is only the second principal guest conductor in Met history, following Valery Gergiev who held the position from 1998 to 2008. Luisi served as general music director of the Dresden's Saxon State Opera and Staatskapelle Orchestra from 2007 to 2010, artistic director of the MDR Symphony Orchestra in Leipzig from 1999 to 2007, music director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande from 1997-2002, and chief conductor of the Tonkünstler Orchestra in Vienna from 1995 to 2000. A native of Genoa, he is currently chief conductor of the Vienna Symphony and artistic director of the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan.
Live Broadcasts Around the World
Lulu 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 May 8 premiere and the performance on May 12 will both be broadcast live on the Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS channel 78 and XM channel 79. The premiere will also be broadcast live over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.
The May 12 performance of Lulu will also be available via RealNetworks internet streaming on the Met's website www.metopera.org.
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 has featured eight new productions, four of which were Met premieres. The season kicked off with a new production of Tosca starring Karita Mattila, conducted by Levine and directed by Luc Bondy. The four Met premieres of the season were: 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. The other new productions were 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, which opens on September 27, will bring 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 will make 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 returned for its fourth season in 2009-10 with nine transmissions. The series began on October 10 with the new production of Tosca, and closes with the new production of Rossini's Armida on May 1. The season's Live in HD presentations have been seen in more than 1000 theaters in 44 countries around the world and in the 2009-10 season alone sold more than two million tickets. The Live in HD performances began airing on PBS in March 2008, and 13 HD performances are now available on DVD. The Magic Flute (the inaugural HD transmission, from December 2006) 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 James 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, Domingo, and Sherrill Milnes in the second. 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, has continued for a third season. This season, for the second consecutive year the program has reached 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 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 presents free live audio streaming of performances on its website once every week during the opera season with support from RealNetworks®.
The Met is 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.