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Metropolitan Opera's 2011-12 Season Opens With Anna Bolena 9/26

The Metropolitan Opera will open its 2011-12 season on September 26 at 6:30 p.m. with the Met premiere of Donizetti's Anna Bolena, starring soprano Anna Netrebko in her highly anticipated first North American performances of the tour-de-force title role. The opera, a thrilling dramatization of the tragic final days of Anne Boleyn-whose husband Henry VIII spurns her and has her sentenced to death-will be directed by David McVicar and conducted by Marco Armiliato.The cast includes Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova as Anna's romantic rival, Giovanna (Jane Seymour); Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov as the cruel Enrico (Henry VIII); American tenor Stephen Costello as Anna's first love, Lord Percy; and American mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford as the queen's devoted page Smeton. On October 21, 24, and 28, rising star Angela Meade will sing the title role.

Generally considered one of Donizetti's finest operas, Anna Bolena is the first in a trilogy of works based on the lives of Tudor-era queens that David McVicar will direct at the Met over the next few seasons (the other two are Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux). McVicar, whose production of Il Trovatore was a popular and critical success when it premiered in 2009, has created a historically detailed setting for the opera, which re-emerged as a musical and dramatic showpiece for extraordinary sopranos when Maria Callas starred in the famous 1957 La Scala revival of the work. "Donizetti takes the bel canto form and explores every possible dramatic opportunity within it," McVicar says. "The lynchpin of the story is Anna Bolena's inability to provide Henry VIII with the male heir that he craves. And, of course, to be a wife of Henry VIII is to risk as much as you gain."

Netrebko's debut in the demanding title role last spring at the Vienna State Opera garnered positive reviews. The New York Times wrote: "[she] scored a personal triumph as Anna Bolena, in what may be her greatest achievement since her Traviata at the 2005 Salzburg Festival." She made her Met debut in 2002 as Natasha in Prokofiev's War and Peace. Since then, Netrebko has sung nine additional roles with the company, including Donizetti's Norina in Don Pasquale and Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor. This spring, she will return to the Met as the hedonistic heroine of Massenet's Manon in her second new production of the season. Gubanova made her Met debut in a 2007 revival of War and Peace and starred as Giulietta opposite Netrebko's Antonia in Bartlett Sher's 2009 new production premiere of Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann. She recently sang the role of Eboli in Don Carlo to critical acclaim during the Met's three-week tour of Japan. At the Met, Abdrazakov has starred in the title role in the company premiere of Verdi's Attila, as Méphistophélès in both Gounod's Faust and Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust, and as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor. Rising young tenor Costello made his Met debut as Arturo, Lucia's doomed husband, in the new production of Lucia di Lammermoor that opened the 2007-08 season. He sang the role of Percy at the Dallas Opera in the 2010-11 season.

The design team for Anna Bolena includes two artists making their Met debuts. Scenic designer Robert Jones collaborated with McVicar on the acclaimed 2005 Glyndebourne production of Handel's Giulio Cesare and has designed numerous plays and musicals, including the Broadway productions of Tom Stoppard's Rock ‘n' Roll and the 2002 revival of Noises Off. Olivier Award-winning costume designer Jenny Tiramani, a leading authority on historical costuming and the author of the best-selling Seventeenth-Century Women's Dress Patterns, has designed for numerous Theater Productions and spent eight years as Head of Design at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London. Paule Constable, whose Met credits include the company premiere of Philip Glass's Satyagraha and Michael Grandage's upcoming new production of Don Giovanni, is the lighting designer for Anna Bolena. Her numerous honors include a 2011 Tony Award for her work on Broadway's War Horse.

This production of Anna Bolena was made possible by a generous gift from Mercedes and Sid R. Bass. The Metropolitan Opera is grateful to Deutsche Bank for underwriting the Opening Night Gala for the eleventh consecutive year. Additional funding for the Opening Night Gala is provided by Manhattan Jaguar.

Live Opening Night Screenings in Times Square and at Lincoln Center
In keeping with a tradition begun on Opening Night in 2006, this year's Anna Bolena premiere will be transmitted live to numerous large screens in Times Square and on Lincoln Center's Josie Robertson Plaza. Attendance is free at both locations. Tickets are required for admission to the Lincoln Center plazacast, and information on ticket distribution will be released at a later date. The Times Square relay of the Opening Night Gala does not require a ticket. Approximately 2,000 seats will be available for the public on a first-come first-served basis, with additional standing room provided. In Times Square, a number of giant screens, including the News Corporation-Sony Times Square screen, the Reuters/NASDAQ screen, the MTV screen, the American Eagle screen, and the Toshiba screen will carry the live performance and pre-show events.
The live opening night transmissions of Anna Bolena are made possible through funding from Bloomberg and the Metropolitan Opera Guild. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Anna Bolena Live in HD and on the Radio
Anna Bolena kicks off the sixth season of The Met: Live in HD when it is transmitted live to movie theaters around the world on October 15, hosted by star soprano Renée Fleming. Live in HD transmissions were seen by 2.6 million opera lovers worldwide last season and are currently transmitted to more than 1600 theaters in 51 countries around the world.
The Met: Live in HD series is made possible by a generous grant from its founding sponsor, The Neubauer Family Foundation. Global corporate sponsorship of The Met: Live in HD is provided by Bloomberg. Transmission of The Met: Live in HD in Canada is made possible thanks to the generosity of Jacqueline and Paul G. Desmarais Sr.
The Anna Bolena premiere on September 26 will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM Channel 74, as will the performances on October 3, 10, and 24. The opening performance will also be streamed live on the Met's website, www.metopera.org.
The February 4 matinee at 12:00 p.m. will be broadcast live over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.
The 2011-12 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is sponsored by Toll Brothers, America's luxury home builder, with generous long-term support from The Annenberg Foundation and the Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media.

Anna Bolena Special Events
On September 19 at 6:30 pm, MetTalks, the Met's series of new production panel discussions, will focus on Anna Bolena. Artists and the production team from the opera, including director David McVicar, Anna Netrebko, and Marco Armiliato will discuss the creation of this production. The panel will be held at the Metropolitan Opera House. Tickets will be made available through the Met Guild at $20 for the general public, $15 for Met Subscribers, $10 for Guild Members and Young Associates. MetTalks are free to all Met Patrons. To purchase tickets, call 212-769-7028 or visit www.metguild.org/lectures. Patrons call 212-870-4502 to reserve tickets to MetTalks.
On September 21 at 6 p.m., the Met will partner with the Metropolitan Museum of Art for "Anna Bolena and Hans Holbein: Met Meets Met." The Met Museum's Maryan Ainsworth, Curator in the Department of European Paintings, and Anna Bolena costume designer Jenny Tiramani will discuss how Hans Holbein's portraits of Henry VIII's court inspired Tiramani's costume designs for the opera. To complement the discussion, soprano Angela Meade, who will sing three performances of the title role this season, will perform the famous mad scene from the opera. Tickets to the event, which will be held in the Grace Rainey Auditorium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, are $25 and available at www.metmuseum.org.

The Met's sixth season of free Open Houses begins on September 22 at 11 a.m. with the final dress rehearsal of Anna Bolena. Funding for the Open Houses has been generously provided for the sixth year in a row by Agnes Varis Trust.

The Metropolitan Opera also thanks Agnes Varis Trust for underwriting the public campaign to launch the 2011-12 season.

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