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The Met's LA DAMNATION DE FAUST Returns To The Stage 10/23

Robert Lepage's imaginative production of Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust, which premiered last season to sold out houses, returns to the Met on October 23. Three stars sing their roles for the first time at the Met: Olga Borodina as Marguerite, Ramón Vargas as Faust, and Ildar Abdrazakov as Méphistophélès. James Conlon returns to the Met for the first time in three years to conduct. The production uses virtual scenery, interactive video, and aerial acrobatics to bring Berlioz's masterpiece to life. At the production's premiere last season, New York Magazine said, "Lepage...uses the flicker and dissolve of film to free Berlioz's romantic psychodrama from reality's constraints...Lepage restrains his wizardry enough to keep it from overwhelming the drama or the music, but with his suspension of gravity and the ability to reshape light by touch, he too, invokes the ability of art's power to displace natural law." The production was transmitted to movie theaters worldwide as part of The Met: Live in HD series last November.

The production team includes Neilson Vignola as associate director, Carl Fillion as set designer, Karin Erskine as costume designer, and Sonoyo Nishikawa as lighting designer. The interactive video designer is Holger Förterer, Boris Firquet is the image designer, and the choreography is by Johanne Madore and Alain S. Gauthier. Performances run through November 17.

Robert Lepage, an internationally renowned director, writer, and performer who is active in opera, theater, and film, is currently at work for the Met on a new production of Wagner's epic Der Ring des Nibelungen. The first two of the four music dramas in the Ring, Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, will premiere in the Met's 2010-11 season, with the final two installments, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, completing the cycle in the following season. In 1994, Lepage founded Ex Machina, a multidisciplinary company that brings together creative artists-including contortionists and computer graphic designers-from every discipline and is known for using cutting-edge technology in every kind of storytelling. His best-known work includes the films Le Confessional (which he wrote and in which he starred) and The Far Side of the Moon, the plays Elsinore (a solo-performer Hamlet) and The Dragon's Trilogy, as well as KÀ, which he created for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas in 2005. Lepage's work in opera includes the 2005 world premiere of Lorin Maazel's opera 1984 at London's Royal Opera Covent Garden and Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, a co-production of opera companies in Brussels, Lyon, San Francisco, Madrid, and London, which opened at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels in 2007.

About the performers

Olga Borodina sang Marguerite in concert with the Met in Tokyo in 1997, but this will be her first staged production with the company. Later this season, she will also portray the title role in Richard Eyre's new production of Carmen. Last season, she was Laura in La Gioconda and the Princess di Bouillon in Adriana Lecouvreur. In September of 2008, she was the mezzo-soprano soloist in the Verdi Requiem, conducted by James Levine, which the Met presented in memory of Luciano Pavarotti. A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Borodina made her Met debut as Marina in Boris Godunov in 1997 and starred in Samson et Dalila on the opening night of the 1998-99 season. She has sung a wide variety of roles with the company, including Amneris in Aida, Paulina in the Queen of Spades, Isabella in L'Italiana in Algeri, the title role in La Cenerentola, and Eboli in Don Carlo. She has also appeared three times in concert with Music Director James Levine and the MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, singing Ravel's Schéhérazade, Berlioz's La Mort de Cléopâtre, and Wolf's Kennst du das Land.

Mexican tenor Rámon Vargas adds two roles to his already extensive Met repertoire this season: the title role of La Damnation de Faust, and Foresto in Verdi's Attila, which opens in a new production conducted by Riccardo Muti next February. He also reprises his portrayal of the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier in October before La Damnation de Faust performances. Last season, Vargas joined Renée Fleming in the Opening Night Gala, appearing as Alfredo in Act II of La Traviata and as Des Grieux in Act III of Manon, and also sang Rodolfo in a revival of La Bohème. Both performances were transmitted as part of The Met: Live in HD series. He was Prince Ramiro in the Met premiere of La Cenerentola (1997), Edgardo in a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor (1998), and Roméo in a new production of Roméo et Juliette (2005). His other roles at the Met include Lenski in Eugene Onegin, which was shown live in HD (2007), the title role in Gounod's Faust, Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore, and Count Almaviva in IL Barbiere di Siviglia.

Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov also adds two major new roles to his Met repertoire this season: Méphistophélès in La Damnation de Faust and the title role in the new production of Verdi's Attila. Last season he was Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, which was transmitted globally as part of The Met: Live in HD series, and also sang Leporello in Don Giovanni for the first time with the company. Abdrazakov made his Met debut in 2004 as Masetto in a new production of Don Giovanni and has since returned as Méphistophélès in Gounod's Faust, Escamillo in Carmen, Alidoro in La Cenerentola, and Mustafà in L'Italiana in Algeri. In addition, in September 2008, he was bass soloist in the Met's performance of the Verdi Requiem in memory of Luciano Pavarotti.

La Damnation de Faust marks James Conlon's 20th opera at the Met. He made his company debut in 1976 conducting Die Zauberflöte and has since led the world premiere of Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy (2005) and two Met premieres-Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (1994) and Floyd's Susannah (1999)-as well as a new production of Rossini's Semiramide (1990). Although his Met repertoire is wide and includes Puccini (La Bohème, Tosca), Verdi (Aida, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Un Ballo in Maschera), and Wagner (Der Fliegende Holländer), he is particularly well-known for 20th-century works. In addition to the above premieres, Conlon has conducted Salome, Khovanshchina, Jen?fa, Peter Grimes, and Dialogues des Carmélites at the Met. The American maestro is currently Music Director of the Los Angeles Opera, the Ravinia Festival, and the Cincinnati May Festival. His previous posts include Principal Conductor of the Paris Opera (1995-2004), as well as Music Director of the Cologne Opera (1989-2002) and the Rotterdam Philharmonic (1983-1991).

Live broadcasts to be heard around the world

La Damnation de Faust will be heard by audiences around the world this season on the radio and the web, through distribution platforms the Met has established with various media partners.

The season premiere on October 23 as well as performances on October 30, November 9, and 17 will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS channel 78 and XM channel 79. The performance on October 23 will also be available via RealNetworks internet streaming at 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 features eight new productions, four of which are Met premieres. Opening night is 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 starring Ildar Abdrazakov, conducted by Riccardo Muti and directed by Pierre Audi, with set and costume design by Miuccia Prada, Jacques Herzog, and Pierre 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. Other new productions are 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 Natalie Dessay and Simon Keenlyside, conducted by Louis Langrée and directed by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser in their Met debuts.

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 returns for its fourth season in 2009-10 with nine transmissions, beginning October 10 with the new production of Tosca and ending with the new production of Rossini's Armida on May 1. The productions are seen in more than 900 theaters in 42 countries around the world and last season sold more than 1.8 million tickets. These performances began airing on PBS in March 2008, and nine HD performances are now available on DVD. The Magic Flute 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 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, Plácido Domingo, and Sherrill Milnes in the latter. 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, continues for a third season. This season, for the second consecutive year the program will reach 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 new service currently offers over 170 historic audio recordings, and almost 100 full-length opera videos are available, including 24 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 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. A new work by composer Nico Muhly and playwright Craig Lucas goes into workshop this fall.

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. This season's special Holiday Presentation is Richard Jones's English-language production of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, which is given four matinee performances and four evening performance as a way for families to celebrate the holiday season.

 


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