Metropolitan Opera 2016-17 Season Preview: Five Operas To See for First Timers
In one week the Metropolitan Opera will open in 2016-17 season with some of the greatest artists gracing the stage, reviving new and old productions. The season will offer a number of great classics and repertoire that has not been seen for many years. It will offer a number of options for veteran opera goers and for newcomers.
However, for those who have never come to the opera, it will be a bit difficult to weed out the works in such a great list of operas. For a first-timer this could be a make or break situation. Opera is not for everyone and that means that a bad experience could mean never coming back and losing the opportunity to continue exploring and expanding your knowledge of this great art form. As a result, the following are the five operas that first-timers should come and see this season at the Met.
Puccini's classic work is easily one of the most recognizable works in the repertory. It is so well-known that Baz Luhrmann produced a Broadway adaptation and Academy Award-nominated director Robert Dornhelm directed an acclaimed version for film. The Met's current production by legendary director Franco Zeffirelli is one of the most beloved and it is the definition of spectacle. The production, while traditional, gives audiences a sense of wonder and its rich detail makes it refreshing every time. What makes La Boheme so accessible is its rich melodies and beautiful characters. It also doesn't hurt that the opera's run time is less than two hours.
And to add to the greatness of the work, the Met has aligned two of the greatest interpreters in the role. Ailyn Perez will bring her Mimi to the Met for the first time while Kristine Opolais will reprise her acclaimed portrayal. The two leading ladies will be joined by Michael Fabiano and Piotr Beczala.
"Il Barbiere di Siviglia"
Everyone knows the phrase "Figaro Figaro" but no one knows where it comes from. The music to this work has been so popular as it has been used for various cartoon shows and commercials. For first timers interested in laughing and having a fun time, this Rossini masterpiece will delight. Bartlett Sher's production is full of fun tricks that show off the rich comedy of this gem. And what makes this opera fun is the vocal fireworks. This season the Met has aligned a cast that will surely bring some show-stopping singing. Javier Camarena will likely threaten to stop the show with his bright High C's while Pretty Yende is sure to delight audiences with her coloratura singing. Peter Mattei will bring his comic timing to his acclaimed Figaro.
Bizet's opera features some of the most unforgettable melodies in opera. From its habanera to its gypsy dances, first-timers are sure to hum to the tunes of the work as they watch Richard Eyre's violently-charged production. Featuring dances inspired by Carlos Saura's film adaptation of the work, this is one of the most entertaining and detailed productions the Met currently has and one that is unforgettable.And the Met has assembled two amazing mezzos in the lead role. The promising mezzo-soprano Clementine Margaine will share the role with the acclaimed mezzo Sophie Koch. Maria Agresta returns to the Met after a triumphant debut as Mimi in "La Boheme."
Verdi's Traviata is one of the most popular operas in the repertoire and one that has a story filled with romance and tragedy that will engage audiences whether they like opera or not. It also doesn't hurt that the melodies are memorable and beautiful. While the Met's current production by Willy Decker may be a bit abstract or avant garde for some newcomers, it does showcase incredible acting. This is a plus for those coming in thinking they will be seeing "Parking and Barking (singing standing and singing for the duration of the work)." Perhaps once they finish seeing this production, that mentality will be long gone. And to add to the positives the Met has assembled two leading sopranos who are not only great singers but incredible actresses. Sonya Yoncheva reprises her turn as Violetta and Carmen Giannattasio returns to the Met after her acclaimed debut a few seasons backs.The two leading ladies are joined by legendary singer Placido Domingo, Michael Fabiano and Thomas Hampson.
"The Magic Flute"
Every year the Met holds holiday presentation of certain operas to appeal to families and children. This year the Met will revive its English version of Mozart's classic fantasy "The Magic Flute." The Met's production by Oscar nominee Julie Taymor is a wonder and spectacle as it uses modern technology to create beautiful visuals and special effects. For those looking for the grandeur and spectacle of Broadway, this production combines both opera and theater elements to perfection. A plus about this revival is that it is sung in English so there are no excuses about not understanding what is going on.