Metropolitan Opera 2013-14 - Year in Review: Looking Back at Best Moments of the Season
On May 10, the Metropolitan Opera's 2013-14 season comes to a close with many historical performances and highlights that will be hard to forget. The following is a look at the season's big highlights and Latin Post's favorite moments of the year.
Kristine Opolais and Javier Camarena Breakout: Both singers have been rising stars for a number of years, but this season they both did the unthinkable. Opolais was originally scheduled to sing Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" in the second run. While the singer fulfilled her contract and triumphed in the role, it was her last minute replacement in "La Boheme" that made headlines. A night after singing the opening of "Madama," General Manager Peter Gelb offered her the role of Mimi in the HD matinee performance of "La Boheme." While Opolais was tired from the night before (she slept only two hours), she successfully performed the role and became an overnight sensation.
Camarena had a similar circumstance. While he received rave reviews for his incredible portrayal of Elvino in Bellini's "La Sonnambula," it was his performances of Rossini's "La Cenerentola" that put him on the map. The singer was called to fill in three performances for a sick Juan Diego Florez. On opening night he received a standing ovation for his aria "Si, Ritrovarla Io Giuro," and the following two performances he made history by becoming the third tenor in 70 years to encore the audience. Both stars are already scheduled to return to the Met in the coming seasons, and it will be interesting to see how these performances affect their international careers.
"Eugene Onegin" on Opening Night: The Met had one of the most successful opening nights in years and a wondrous run of Tchaikovsky's masterpiece. The Met presented a new production by Fiona Shaw and had a star studded cast that included Mariusz Kwiecien in the title role and Anna Netrebko as Tatiana. While the opening night got off to a rocky start with protests, the full run was met with rave reviews especially for Netrebko and Kwiecien's chemistry. In particular audiences were ecstatic after the final duet of the opera. Piotr Beczala also got huge ovations for his powerful and scene stealing Lensky. His "Kuda Kuda" threatened to stop the show as the tenor received a rousing applause for his delicate and heartbreaking phrasing.
Sondra Radvanovsky's "Norma": The Met has had a hard time finding a druid for Bellini's masterpiece. The opera is known for its difficult soprano role, which is considered the most tricky in the repertoire. When Radvanovsky was announced as the Druid, audiences were skeptical she could pull it off especially since she had never sung Bel Canto at the Met. However Radvanovsky proved she was up to the test. The soprano not only had the huge voice to sing over the intricate orchestra but also had the flexibility for the coloratura runs and the high notes. She even interpolated high Ds, which were not originally written into the score. In particular her stage presence and her chemistry with her co-stars enlivened the production by John Copley.
Jonas Kaufmann in "Werther": This was easily one of the most powerful performances at the Met this year. Jonas Kaufmann proved once more why he is today's leading tenor. His beautiful pianissimo phrases and his riveting high notes showcased the anguish in his character. Meanwhile his acting and chemistry with Sophie Koch were unforgettable. Koch herself held up well opposite the superstar with her enormous voice and gentle stage persona. Her voice in particular gave the character of Charlotte a dark tone. Richard Eyre's lavish production was impeccably directed as he focused on the characters and not the concept.
Diana Damrau: The coloratura soprano proved once again why she is one of the Met's greatest artists. While Damrau was making her role debut, the soprano sang each phrase and note that Bellini's score demanded and added her customary fiorturas to perfection. Her vocal fireworks proved she is currently one of the best interpreters of the role at the moment. More importantly her acting also proved convincing even if the production was nonsensical. Damrau threw herself onto the stage as she twirled around, threw herself to the ground and even did a cartwheel. Most importantly, she gave her character depth and dimension, which many sopranos fail to do. This production proved that Damrau needs more promotion from the Met and should headline new productions and not simply revivals.
"Die Frau Ohne Schatten": One of the questions that should be asked why did the Met not present this amazing production on HD. After 10 years away from the repertoire, the company finally revived the production with a marvelous cast that included Christine Goerke in her breakout role. While Goerke made headlines for impeccable vocal skills and dramatic weight, Anne Schwanewilms held her own in her Met debut. Torsten Kerl sang the role of the emperor with finesse while Vladimir Jurowski conducted the orchestra with passion and sensitivity. Herbert Wernicke's production continues to be one of the Met's most theatrical productions and one that keeps the story moving and never distracts away from the plot.
Olga Peretyatko: The Russian soprano gave one of the most promising Met debuts this year. The soprano brought the vocal clarity required for the Bel Canto repertoire and also brought a dynamic stage presence. Her high notes are impeccable and her phrasing is elegant. While she is not scheduled for next year, this is one of the up-and-coming stars, whom Met audiences have to watch out for.
The Comedies: Comedy is probably one of the hardest genres to pull off. However, the Met assembled three incredible casts for Donizetti's "L'Elisir D'Amore," Verdi's "Falstaff," Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte" and Rossini's "La Cenerentola." For "L'Elisir" Netrebko brought her stage charisma and vocal fireworks while Erwin Schrott commanded the stage in his Johnny Depp imitation of Dulcamara. Ramon Vargas and Nicola Alaimo also proved great comedians.
For "Falstaff" the Met presented a new staging by Robert Carsen that was fun, engaging and drove the action relentlessly. The world's most famous Falstaff Ambrogio Maestri sang and acted the role to impeccable results while Angela Meade proved she is actually very funny. Lisette Oropesa and Paolo Fanale were adorable as the young lovers while Stephanie Blythe brought her usual gravitas to the production. James Levine led a swift and even orchestra in the pit.
Levine was also divine in Mozart's wondrous "Cosi Fan Tutte." His youthful cast comprised of Isabel Leonard, Danielle De Niese, Susanna Phillips and Rodion Pogossov worked wondrous alongside more seasoned veterans, such as Matthew Polenzani and Maurizio Muraro.
The last comedy of the season, "La Cenerentola," was filled with stars including Joyce Didonato and Juan Florez. Both these singers brought there on stage chemistry and provided for a hilarious evening. It also marked a remarkable debut for Pietro Spagnoli, while Alessandro Corbelli proved that he is still one of the best patter baritones out there.
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