Renee Fleming and Susan Graham Sing in The Met's DER ROSENKAVALIER
Renée Fleming and Susan Graham star as the Marschallin and Octavian-reprising the acclaimed portrayals which they last sang together at the Met in 2000-in the revival of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, opening on October 13. Met Music Director James Levine conducts an international cast that includes Miah Persson in her Met debut as Sophie, Ramón Vargas as the Italian Singer, Hans-Joachim Ketelsen as Faninal, and Kristinn Sigmundsson singing Baron Ochs for the first time at the Met. Later performances feature Christine Schäfer as Sophie, Eric Cutler as the Italian Singer, and Thomas Allen as Faninal-all three making their company role debuts. The production is by Nathaniel Merrill, sets and costumes are by Robert O'Hearn, and the lighting designer is Gil Wechsler. Performances run through January 15.
Der Rosenkavalier will be transmitted into movie theaters around the world on January 9 as part of The Met: Live in HD series, directed for the screen by Barbara Willis-Sweete and hosted by Plácido Domingo.
About the Performers
With the Marschallin, American soprano Renée Fleming reprises one of her most admired portrayals. "Her soprano is not only beautifully in place for the music but is employed with a rare flexibility and sensitivity for the text," the New York Times said of her Marschallin in 2000. Later in the season Fleming will sing the eponymous heroine in the Met premiere of Rossini's bel canto fantasy Armida, which will be transmitted globally as part of The Met: Live in HD series. Last season she was the first woman to headline the Gala Opening Night, singing in staged scenes from La Traviata, Manon, and Capriccio. She also sang the title roles in a new production of Massenet's Thaïs and in a revival of Dvo?ak's Rusalka. Both the Opening Night Gala and Thaïs were shown live in HD. Fleming was Rosina in the world premiere of Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles (1991) and has appeared in three other Met premieres: in the title role of Floyd's Susannah (1999), as Imogene in Bellini's Il Pirata (2002), and in the title role of Handel's Rodelinda (2004). In Jonathan Miller's new production of Le Nozze di Figaro (1998), she sang the Countess Almaviva. Her numerous other roles at the Met include Tatiana in Eugene Onegin, which was transmitted live in HD (2007); Donna Anna in Don Giovanni; Pamina in Die Zauberflöte; Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte; Desdemona in Otello; the title role in Arabella; Marguerite in Faust; and Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes. Fleming is also familiar to audiences as the host of many Live in HD transmissions, as well as the documentary film about the Met's National Council Auditions, The Audition. This season she will host HD transmissions of Aida, Carmen, Simon Boccanegra, and Hamlet. Fleming has also frequently appeared in concerts with the MET Orchestra both in New York and on tour.
"Susan Graham, one of the great singing actresses currently working the world's stages, brings irresistible charm and physical vigor to her portrayal of Richard Strauss's young nobleman, Octavian," said Time Out New York of the mezzo-soprano's performance in 2000. Last season the New Mexico native made two company role debuts: as Marguerite in Robert Lepage's new production of La Damnation de Faust, which was transmitted worldwide live in HD, and as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. She has appeared in two world premieres at the Met, as Jordan Baker in Harbison's The Great Gatsby (1999) and as Sondra Finchley in Picker's An American Tragedy (2005), as well as in the title role of a new production of Iphigénie en Tauride (2007). Though she is especially well-known for her Mozart roles-Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito, Idamante in Idomeneo-she performs a wide-ranging repertoire, from the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos to Charlotte in Werther and the title character in The Merry Widow. Last season Graham hosted two of The Met: Live in HD transmissions: the Opening Night Gala and John Adams's Doctor Atomic.
Swedish soprano Miah Persson makes her Met debut as Sophie, a role she has sung to great acclaim at the Salzburg Festival and at the San Francisco Opera. She has performed many Mozart roles, including Sifare in Mitridate (Salzburg Festival), Pamina in Die Zauberflöte (Stockholm Royal Opera), Zerlina in Don Giovanni and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro (both Royal Opera, Covent Garden), and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte (Glyndebourne Festival). Her repertoire also includes Euridice in Orfeo ed Euridice (Teatre Liceu, Barcelona), the title role in Handel's Partenope (Theater an der Wien, Vienna) and the Governess in Britten's The Turn of the Screw (Frankfurt Opera).
Christine Schäfer sings Sophie for the first time in her Met career. She made her debut in 2001 as Lulu and in 2007 sang Gretel in the new production of Hansel and Gretel which was transmitted as part of The Met: Live in HD series. The German soprano sings a wide repertoire in theaters throughout the world: the title roles in Theodora (Salzburg Festival), Partenope (Theater an der Wien), The Cunning Little Vixen (Paris Opera), and Lucia di Lammermoor (Frankfurt Opera), Gilda in Rigoletto (Royal Opera, Covent Garden), Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Berlin State Opera), Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro (Salzburg Festival), and Infantin in Zemlinsky's Der Zwerg (Paris Opera).
Ramón Vargas reprises the role of the Italian Singer. This season he adds to his already extensive Met repertoire, playing Foresto in the Met premiere of Verdi's Attila, which audiences around the world will see live in HD, as well as the title role in La Damnation de Faust. Last season the Mexican tenor appeared as Alfredo in the Opening Night Gala with Renée Fleming and also sang Rodolfo in La Bohème, another Live in HD performance. He was Prince Ramiro in the Met premiere of La Cenerentola (1997), Edgardo in a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor (1998), and starred in a new production of Roméo et Juliette (2005). Among his other roles at the Met are Lensky in Eugene Onegin, which was shown live in HD (2007); the title role in Faust; Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore; and Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia.
Tenor Eric Cutler makes his role debut as the Italian Singer. A 1998 National Council winner and a graduate of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, he has sung numerous roles at the Met. They include Megäros in the Met premiere of Busoni's Doktor Faust (2001), Léopold in the new production of Meyerbeer's La Juive (2003), Scaramuccio in Ariadne auf Naxos, Vogelgesang in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte; and Andres in Wozzeck. In 2007, he sang the role of Arturo in the Live in HD transmission of Bellini's I Puritani opposite Anna Netrebko, which is now available on DVD on the Decca label.
German baritone Hans-Joachim Ketelsen reprises the role of Faninal, which he last sang at the Met in 2000. Since his 1994 Met debut as Mandryka in Arabella, he has appeared with the company as Telramund in Lohengrin, Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde, and Amfortas in Parsifal.
Thomas Allen performs Faninal for the first time in his long career at the Met. The English baritone, equally at home in comic and dramatic parts, made his Met debut in 1981 as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte. He has since sung in three new production premieres with the company: as Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro (1985), Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte (1996), and as seven different characters in Death in Venice (1994). He has also played the title roles in Billy Budd and Il Barbiere di Siviglia and has sung Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, and the Music Master in Ariadne auf Naxos. In 1999, he was knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.
Kristinn Sigmundsson makes his Met role debut as Baron Ochs. The Icelandic bass and former biologist, who appeared last season as the Gnome in Rusalka, made his Met debut as Hunding in Die Walküre in the 2000 presentation of Der Ring des Nibelungen. He was Frère Laurent in the new production of Roméo et Juliette (2005) and has also played Rocco in Fidelio, Lodovico in Otello, the Commendatore in Don Giovanni, and Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail.
Live Broadcasts Around the World
Der Rosenkavalier will be experienced by millions of people around the world this season in movie theaters and on the radio and the internet, through distribution platforms the Met has established with various media partners.
The premiere on October 13 will be broadcast live on the Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS channel 78 and XM channel 79 as will the performances on October 19 and January 6 and 9.
The performances on October 13 and January 6 will also be available via RealNetworks internet streaming at the Met's web site www.metopera.org.
In addition to The Met: Live in HD transmission, the January 9 matinee performance will also be broadcast live over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.
Photo credit Walter McBride