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The Metropolitan Opera's 2012-13 Season Opens Tonight, 9/24

The Metropolitan Opera will open its 2012-13 season tonight, September 24 at 7:00 p.m. with a new production of Donizetti's delightful comic gem L'Elisir d'Amore, starring Russian diva Anna Netrebko-in her second consecutive Met opening night-as the irresistible heroine Adina. Matthew Polenzani sings the role of the lovelorn peasant Nemorino, Mariusz Kwiecien sings Sergeant Belcore, his romantic rival, and Ambrogio Maestri is the potion-peddling Doctor Dulcamara in Bartlett Sher's new staging of the classic love story, which will be conducted by Maurizio Benini. The principal singers and conductor will return to reprise the opera this January and February, with Netrebko's offstage partner Erwin Schrott replacing Maestri in the role of Dulcamara.

Although L'Elisir d'Amore is one of the most popular comic operas in the repertory, it has never before been performed on the Met's opening night. 

Bartlett Sher has directed three previous productions at the Met: Rossini's IL Barbiere di Siviglia (2006)Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann (2009), and Rossini's Le Comte Ory (2011). Le Comte Ory will be revived at the Met this spring and IL Barbiere di Siviglia will be restaged in an abridged, English-language version that will open in December and play throughout the holiday season. Sher is also a Tony Award-winning stage director whose Broadway credits include South Pacific and The Light in the Piazza.

This season's performances will be Anna Netrebko's Met role debut as Adina, though she sang a portion of the opera in a 2006 Met gala and has performed the role to acclaim at the Mariinsky Theatre, Paris Opera, Vienna State Opera, and Bavarian State Opera in Munich. Netrebko opened the Met's 2011-12 season with a celebrated performance in the fiery title role of Donizetti's Anna Bolena and returned in the spring as the title character in a new production of Massenet's Manon. Her more than 100 Met performances also include Norina in Donizetti's Don Pasquale and the title role in his Lucia di Lammermoor; Antonia and Stella in Sher's production of Les Contes d'Hoffmann; Musetta and Mimì in Puccini's La Bohème; Juliette in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette; Elvira in Bellini's I Puritani; Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto; Donna Anna and Zerlina in Mozart's Don Giovanni; and, for her Met debut in 2002, Natasha Rostova in Prokofiev's War and Peace.

Matthew Polenzani also makes his Met role debut in this season's performances of L'Elisir d'Amore. In 2010, he sang Nemorino to Netrebko's Adina at the Bavarian State Opera. He has sung more than 250 performances in 29 roles at the Met. In recent seasons, his starring roles have included Alfredo in the new production premiere of Verdi's La Traviata (2010), Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Ernesto inDon Pasquale, Tamino in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Belmonte in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and Roméo in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette. He has starred opposite Netrebko in Met performances of Don Giovanni, Don Pasquale, and Roméo et Juliette.

Mariusz Kwiecien made his Met role debut as Belcore last season in a revival of L'Elisir d'Amore. His more than 150 Met performances include four roles in new production premieres: the title character in Don Giovanni (2011), Escamillo in Carmen (2009), Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor (2007), and Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale (2006). He starred opposite Netrebko and Polenzani in a 2010 revival of Don Pasquale that was transmitted worldwide as part of the Met's Live in HD series. Kwiecien made his Met debut as Kuligin in a 1999 revival of Janá?ek's Kát'a Kabanová and has also appeared in a variety of other roles, most frequently Marcello in La Bohème, Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, and Guglielmo in Mozart's Cosí fan tutte.

Ambrogio Maestri made his Met debut as Amonasro in Verdi's Aida in 2004 and returned in 2006 as Alfio in Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana. In recent years, the Italian bass has become one of the opera world's leading stars in the basso buffo repertory, singing Dulcamara at the Bavarian State Opera, Vienna State Opera, Munich Opera Festival, and Teatro alla Scala in Milan and the title character in Verdi's Falstaff in Berlin, Munich, Dresden, Vienna, Barcelona, Parma, Verona, and, last season, in a new production at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Last fall, he gave an acclaimed performance as Michonnet in the Opera Orchestra of New York's concert presentation of Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur. Later this season, he sings Dulcamara at Covent Garden and the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona; Falstaff at La Scala and the Paris and Zurich Operas; and the title role in Verdi's Nabucco at La Scala.

Erwin Schrott has recently sung Dulcamara at the Mariinsky Theatre; the Teatro Pezzurelli in Bari, Italy; and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain. Also this season, he sings Dulcamara at the Vienna State Opera and the Bavarian State Opera. At the Met, he has sung the title roles of Don Giovanni and Le Nozze di Figaro, Colline in La Bohème, and Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen. This November, he will make his Met role debut as Leporello in Don Giovanni.

Benini made his Met debut leading L'Elisir d'Amore in 1998 and also directed a 2009 revival of the opera. This season at the Met, he leads the first-ever Met performances of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda, which opens in a new production by David McVicar on New Year's Eve, and a revival of Le Comte Ory. His previous Met performances include the Met premiere of Le Comte Ory and the new production premiere of IL Barbiere di Siviglia, both directed by Sher; the new production premiere of Don Pasquale; and performances of Verdi'sRigoletto, La Traviata, and Luisa Miller, Rossini's La Cenerentola, Gounod's Faust, and Bellini's Norma.

The design team for L'Elisir d'Amore features two of the artists who designed Sher's previous Met productions, scenic designerMichael Yeargan and costume designer Catherine Zuber, as well as acclaimed lighting designer Jennifer Tipton. Yeargan designed sets and costumes for the Met's Current Productions of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, Mozart's Così fan tutte, and Floyd's Susannah, and sets for Verdi's Otello, Harbison's The Great Gatsby, and Sher's productions of IL Barbiere di Siviglia, Les Contes d'Hoffmann, and Le Comte Ory. His 20 Broadway credits include two Tony Award-winning scenic designs, for South Pacific and The Light in the Piazza. Zuber, a five-time Tony Award winner for her work on Broadway, made her Met debut designing IL Barbiere di Siviglia and, in addition toLes Contes d'Hoffmann and Le Comte Ory, designed costumes for the Met premiere of Adams's Doctor Atomic. Tipton, whose honors include two Tony Awards (for The Cherry Orchard and Jerome Robbins' Broadway) and a MacArthur "Genius" Grant, designed the lighting for the current Met stagings of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, and Verdi's Il Trovatore, as well as the upcoming Maria Stuarda.

This production of L'Elisir d'Amore was made possible by a generous gift from The Monteforte Foundation, in honor of Wim Kooyker. The Metropolitan Opera is grateful to Deutsche Bank for underwriting the Opening Night Gala for the twelfth consecutive year. Additional funding for the Opening Night Gala is provided by Manhattan Jaguar.

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