Two of Opera's Leading Ladies Sing 'Lucia di Lammermoor' This Season at Met

Two of opera's leading sopranos – both acclaimed for their dramatic and vocal skills – sing the demanding title role in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor for the first time at the Met this season. In the opening performance, October 3, 2008, Diana Damrau – who last season became the first soprano to achieve the feat of singing both leading soprano roles in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Pamina and the Queen of the Night, in the same Met season – sings the role of Lucia for the first time in her career. Polish tenor Piotr Beczala is her beloved Edgardo in his Met role debut. Anna Netrebko returns to the Met for the first time since giving birth in September, singing the title role in the season's final four performances opposite tenor Rolando Villazón as Edgardo, who makes his first appearance at the Met in nearly two years. Marco Armiliato conducts all 11 performances.

The Saturday matinee performance on February 7, 2009, starring Netrebko and Villazón, will be seen in hundreds of movie theaters across the country and around the world as part of The Met: Live in HD series.

The production by Mary Zimmerman, which opened the Met last season, was hailed by the Associated Press as both "handsomely traditional and imaginatively provocative at the same time." Zimmerman – along with set designer Daniel Ostling, costume designer Mara Blumenfeld, lighting designer T.J. Gerckens, and choreographer Daniel Pelzig – staged the bel canto favorite about a young woman destroyed by the forces of love and politics as a Victorian ghost story. The creative team returns later this season for a new production of Bellini's La Sonnambula.

Completing the cast for the first seven performances are Bulgarian baritone Vladimir Stoyanov as Lucia's brother, Enrico, in his Met debut, and Russian bass-baritone Ildar Abdrazakov as Raimondo. In later performances, Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecen reprises Enrico, the role he sang to acclaim in last season's production premiere.

About the performers
Conductor Marco Armiliato made his Met debut in 1998 with La Bohčme, and has since led ten more productions here including the new production premieres of Wolf-Ferrari's Sly and Franco Alfano's Cyrano de Bergerac, both starring Plácido Domingo, and last season's La Fille du Régiment, with Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez. This season, he conducts the new production of Puccini's La Rondine and shares the baton with Met Music Director James Levine and Patrick Summers in the Opening Night Gala starring Renée Fleming.

 Diana Damrau adds two new roles to her Met repertory this season; following her career first Lucias this fall, she returns in April for her role debut with the company as Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto. Since her Met debut in the brilliant coloratura role of Zerbinetta in Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos in 2005, the German soprano has appeared with the company as Rosina in the hit 2006 production of IL Barbiere di Siviglia, directed by Bartlett Sher, and as Aithra in Die Ägyptische Helena, in a new production by David Fielding. Last season at the Met, she sang both Pamina and the Queen of the Night in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, in addition to Konstanze in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

Piotr Beczala sings three roles at the Met this season: Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor and Lensky in Eugene Onegin, both for the first time with the company, and a reprise of his 2006 debut as the Duke of Mantua in Verdi's Rigoletto. The Polish tenor's performances of the Duke at the Royal Opera and his American debut as Lensky at the San Francisco Opera garnered particular critical and public acclaim. He appears regularly in the world's leading opera houses, and this season returns to the San Francisco Opera, Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the Zurich Opera, Berlin State Opera, Vienna State Opera, and Madrid's Teatro Real.

Following his Met debut as Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, Vladimir Stoyanov returns in November as Yeletsky in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades. The Bulgarian baritone's most recent engagements include the title roles of Attila and Falstaff in Naples, Germont in La Traviata in Vienna and Teatro la Fenice in Venice, Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, and Enrico in Lucia at the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

Before making his Met role debut as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor this season, Ildar Abdrazakov will be the bass soloist for the Verdi Requiem with the Met Orchestra and Chorus conducted by James Levine on September 18 at 5 p.m. The free, pre-season concert is the company's tribute to Luciano Pavarotti on the first anniversary of the great tenor's death. Last seen at the Met in March 2007 as Méphistophélčs in Gounod's Faust, Russian bass-baritone Abdrazakov has also appeared with the company as Alidoro in Rossini's La Cenerentola, Escamillo in Carmen, Mustafŕ in Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri, and Masetto in Don Giovanni, the role of his 2004 Met debut.

Named Musical America's "Musician of the Year" for 2008, Anna Netrebko returns to the Met for the first time since the birth of her child in September, in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor on January 26, 2009. Lucia will be her tenth role with the company since her debut in 2001 as Natasha in War and Peace. Last season she sang Juliette in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette (part of The Met: Live in HD series). Other previous roles include Elvira in I Puritani (transmitted live in HD in 2007, now available commercially on DVD), Norina in the 2006 new production of Don Pasquale, Gilda in Rigoletto, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and both Mimě and Musetta in La Bohčme.

Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón debuted at the Met opposite Renée Fleming in La Traviata in 2003. Since then Mr. Villazón has appeared as Rodolfo in La Bohčme in 2006, in addition to partnering soprano Anna Netrebko for Verdi's Rigoletto, a single, sold-out performance of La Bohčme in December 2006, and a special gala concert in 2007, celebrating the Met's 40th anniversary at Lincoln Center.

A native of Krákow, Poland, baritone Mariusz Kwiecien joined the Met as a member of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program in 1998 and made his debut in 1999 as Kuligin in Kát'a Kabanová.  Since 2001 he has sung leading roles with the Met including Marcello in La Bohčme (which he sings again in December), Silvio in Pagliacci, Guglielmo in Cosě fan tutte, Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Malatesta in the new production of Don Pasquale in 2006.

Live broadcasts around the world

Lucia di Lammermoor will be experienced by millions of people around the world this season at movie theaters and on the radio and the internet, through distribution platforms the Met has established with various media partners.

The season premiere on October 3 will be broadcast live on the Metropolitan Opera on SIRIUS Satellite Radio channel 78, as will the performances on October 8, 15, 22, and January 29, and February 7 matinee.

The performance on October 3 will also be available via RealNetworks internet streaming at the Met's web site,

The Saturday matinee performance on February 7, featuring Anna Netrebko in the title role and Rolando Villazon as Edgardo, in addition to being transmitted live in HD into movie theaters, will be broadcast live over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.

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 Metropolitan Opera's 2008-09 season pays tribute to the company's extraordinary history on the occasion of its 125th anniversary, while also emphasizing the Met's renewed commitment to advancing the art form. The upcoming season features six new productions, 18 revivals, the final performances of Otto Schenk's production of Wagner's Ring cycle conducted by Levine, and two gala celebrations; the galas include the season-opening performance featuring Renée Fleming as well as a 125th anniversary celebration on March 15.  New productions include the company premiere of John Adams's Doctor Atomic as well as the Met's first staged production of Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust, and Massenet's Thaďs, Puccini's La Rondine, Verdi's Il Trovatore, and Bellini's La Sonnambula.  Future seasons include new presentations of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles (2009-10) and Thomas Adčs's The Tempest (2011-12).

Building on its 77-year-old international radio broadcast history – 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 Met: Live in HD series reached more than 935,000 people in the 2007-08 season, more than the number of people who saw performances in the opera house.  These performances began airing on PBS in March 2008, and eight of these HD performances are currently or will soon be available on DVD, on the EMI and Universal labels.  In the 2008-09 season, the series expands to feature 11 live transmissions, starting with the Met's Opening Night Gala and spanning the entire season. The HD productions will be seen in over 850 theaters in 28 countries around the world. Five new productions will be featured, including the Met premiere of John Adams's Doctor Atomic. The Opening Night transmission will be seen in the Americas only; the remaining ten high-definition productions will be shown live worldwide on Saturdays through May 9 with encores scheduled at various times.

Live in HD in Schools, the Met's new 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, reached more than 7,000 public school students and teachers during the 2007-08 season. This season, Live in HD in Schools expands to reach schools in 18 cities and communities nationwide.

Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS channel 78 is a subscription-based audio service broadcasting both live and rare recorded historical performances.  In addition to providing audio recordings through the new 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.

The Met has launched several audience development initiatives such as the company's Open House Dress Rehearsals, which are free and open to the public; two are planned for the 2008-09 season with operas and dates to be announced.  The Met also presents a free performance of the Verdi Requiem on September 18, in tribute to the late Luciano Pavarotti.  Other company initiatives include the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Gallery Met which exhibits contemporary visual art; the immensely successful Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman Rush Ticket program which provides deeply discounted orchestra seats two hours before curtain time; and an annual Holiday Series presentation for families.  This season's special Holiday Presentation is Julie Taymor's production of Mozart's The Magic Flute, an abridged, English-language version of the opera which is given four special matinee performances and one holiday evening performance as a way for families to celebrate the holiday season.