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Zeffirelli's 'La Traviata' Returns to the Metropolitan Opera

Franco Zeffirelli’s lavish production of Verdi’s poignant masterpiece about love and sacrifice, La Traviata, returns to the Metropolitan Opera stage on October 20 for nine performances through November 20, 2008. Anja Harteros sings the title role for the first time at the Met. The New York Times said of her Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro last season, “A soprano with such a strong and earthy voice; can shape phrases with melting pianissimo tenderness.” Conductor Paolo Carignani makes his Met debut, leading an international cast of rising stars, all in Met role debuts: German soprano Harteros as the tragic heroine Violetta, Italian tenor Massimo Giordano as her lover Alfredo, and Polish baritone Andrzej Dobber, who shares the role of Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont, with Serbian baritone Željko Lučić (the Met’s Macbeth last season).

The 1999 winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, Anja Harteros made her Metropolitan Opera debut as the Countess Le Nozze di Figaro in 2003, a role she reprised to acclaim last season. In 2004, she sang Donna Anna in the new production premiere of Don Giovanni. She has garnered critical praise as Violetta at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, San Diego Opera, Vienna State Opera, and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, where the performance was recorded with Zubin Mehta on the podium.

Massimo Giordano made his Met debut in 2006 as Des Grieux in Manon and sang Rinuccio from Gianni Schicchi in Jack O’Brien’s new production of Il Trittico in 2007. The Italian tenor has appeared at numerous leading theaters and festivals in Europe, among them La Scala, Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Moscow’s Bolshoi Opera, and the Glyndebourne and Salzburg Festivals.

Last season, Andrzej Dobber made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Amonasro in Aida. A highly-sought after Verdi baritone, he has sung Germont at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Royal Opera Covent Garden and the Nederlandse Opera, and will sing the role at the Los Angeles Opera in 2009.

Željko Lučić has performed Germont in major opera houses throughout the world, including the Vienna State Opera, Covent Garden, and Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin. Last year, he portrayed the title role of Macbeth in the Met’s new production by Adrian Noble (part of The Met: Live in HD series). Later this season, the Serbian native adds two more Verdi roles to his Met repertory, singing the title role of Rigoletto and Count di Luna in the new production of Il Trovatore.

Paolo Carignani recently completed his tenure with the Frankfurt Opera, where he served as Music Director since 1999. A noted Verdi specialist, he has conducted operas at many of the world’s major theaters and festivals, including the Royal Opera Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, Opera Bastille in Paris, the Vienna State Opera, Zurich Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, San Francisco Opera, and the Glyndebourne, Rossini Opera and the Spoleto Festivals.


Live broadcasts around the world

La Traviata will be experienced by people around the world on the radio and the internet, through distribution platforms the Met has established with various media partners.

The season premiere on October 20 will be broadcast live on the Metropolitan Opera on SIRIUS Satellite Radio channel 78, as will the performances on October 27, 31, November 6, 12, and 20.

The performance on October 31 will also be available via RealNetworks internet streaming at the Met’s web site,

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 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 since 1906, Massenet’s Thaïs, 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 Adès’s The Tempest (2011-12).

Building on its 77-year-old 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 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 now available on DVD, on the EMI and Universal labels.  In the 2008-09 season, the HD series expands to feature 11 live transmissions, starting with the Met’s Opening Night Gala and spanning the entire season. The HD productions are seen this season in over 850 theaters in 28 countries around the world. Five new productions are featured, including the Met premiere of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic. The Opening Night transmission was seen in the Americas only; the remaining ten high-definition productions are 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.

Continuing its innovative use of electronic media to reach a global audience, the Metropolitan Opera introduces Met Player, a new subscription service that will make its extensive video and audio catalog of full-length performances available to the public for the first time online, and in exceptional, state-of-the-art quality. Beginning on October 22, 2008, 120 historic audio recordings and 50 full-length opera videos will be available during the first month of the new service, including over a dozen 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, will be added monthly.

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.  Just prior to beginning the current season, the Met presented 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.

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