Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 30, 2013

Ten operas in series broadcast at State

BY MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS mdrahos@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Judy and Sheldon Levin didn't have to think about which of the 10 operas they wanted to see on the upcoming season of "The Met: Live in HD" at the State Theatre.

"We're seeing all 10," said Judy Levin, who got to buy the couple's tickets early as a member of The Metropolitan Opera Association.

Tickets for the series go on sale to the general public today. Judy Trentham, State Theatre box office manager, expects to see more sellouts than in seasons past, thanks in part to a lineup that includes the romantic and tragic audience favorite, "La Boheme," April 5.

"Initially, we had a lot of sellouts and we don’t have as many now," Trentham said. "But we still have several hundred people attend the operas.They are equally as enthusiastic today as they were in November of the 2007-08 season."

The marathon events are transmitted live in high definition from New York's Lincoln Center to more than 1,900 theaters in 64 countries. Subtitles now are translated into nine languages including English.

Trentham said State Theatre people come from as far away as Northport and Manistee to see the Saturday afternoon productions, which include interviews with cast members, crews and production teams and behind-the-scenes peeks at areas like sets and costumes.

Levin said she and her husband, who live in Leelanau County, typically make a day of the live transmissions. They buy sandwiches and drinks at the State to tide them over and take advantage of a long intermission to stretch their legs with a walk downtown. The couple, who have seen operas in Russia, Mexico and elsewhere around the world, read the Met's Opera News and study the libretto before each opera.

"When I was in school I was an opera major and a theater minor, so for me this is a dream come true to have The Metropolitan Opera live in Traverse City and to go on a Saturday and see it in HD," Judy Levin said. "And my husband, who was not an opera fan before, is a huge opera fan now.

"We are so lucky to be able to go see it on that huge screen with that fabulous sound system."

The season kicks off Oct. 5 with a new production of "Eugene Onegin," starring Levin favorite Anna Netrebko, one of several new productions of older operas aimed at attracting new audiences.

"Some people are embracing that and some are not," Trentham said, of opera productions like "Falstaff" (Dec. 14), which is freshly set in the English countryside in the mid-20th century.

Other season highlights include the first Live in HD performance of Mozart’s "Così fan tutte" (April 26), a new production of Borodin’s rarely heard epic "Prince Igor" (March 1), and the return of Renée Fleming in one of her signature roles, the title character in Dvorak's "Rusalka" (Feb. 8).

Trentham said the season sleeper may be "The Nose" (Oct. 26), William Kentridge's inventive production of Shostakovich's opera based on a story about the satirical misadventures of a bureaucrat in search of his missing nose.

"People are curious about it. The tried and true people are willing to take a risk and watch something new once in while," she said.

Levin said the opera is high on her list to see.

"It's supposed to be really dazzling. The greatest thing my husband and I found is to see something you’ve never seen," she said.

Rounding out the season are "Tosca" (Nov. 9), "Werther" (March 15) and La Cenerentola (May 10).

All operas begin at 12:55 p.m., except for "Prince Igor," which begins at noon.

Tickets are $26 for adults, $24 for State Theatre and Met Opera Members, $22 for Seniors 65 and over, and $18 for children and students. For more information, call the box office at 947-3446 or go to statetheatretc.org.

The Met: Live in HD 2012-13 schedule *Oct. 5 - Eugene Onegin" 12:55 p.m. ET) Anna Netrebko and Mariusz Kwiecien star as the lovestruck Tatiana and the imperious Onegin in Tchaikovsky's fateful romance. Deborah Warner's new production, directed by Fiona Shaw, is set in the late 19th century and captures the splendor and passion of Tchaikovsky's opera. Piotr Beczala is Lenski, Onegin's friend turned rival. Russian maestro Valery Gergiev conducts. Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 - THE NOSE (12:55 p.m. ET) William Kentridge stormed the Met with his inventive production of Shostakovich's opera, which dazzled opera and art lovers alike in its sold-out inaugural run in 2010. Now Paulo Szot reprises his acclaimed performance of a bureaucrat, whose satirical misadventures in search of his missing nose are based on Gogol's comic story. Pavel Smelkov conducts. Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 - TOSCA (12:55 p.m. ET) Puccini's timeless verismo score is well served by an exceptional cast, led by Patricia Racette in the title role of the jealous diva, opposite Roberto Alagna as her lover, Cavaradossi. George Gagnidze is the villainous Scarpia. *Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 - FALSTAFF (12:55 p.m. ET) An undisputed master of Falstaff, Music Director James Levine conducts Verdi's opera for the first time at the Met since 2005. Robert Carsen's production--the first new Met Falstaff since 1964--is set in the English countryside in the mid-20th century. Ambrogio Maestri sings the title role of the blustery Sir John Falstaff, opposite a marvelous ensemble that includes Angela Meade, Stephanie Blythe, Lisette Oropesa and Franco Vassallo. Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 -RUSALKA (12:55 p.m. ET) The great Renée Fleming returns to one of her signature roles, singing the enchanting "Song to the Moon" in Dvorák's soulful fairy-tale opera. Tenor Piotr Beczala co-stars as the Prince, Dolora Zajick is Ježibaba, and dynamic young maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin is on the podium. *Saturday, March 1, 2014 - PRINCE IGOR (12 p.m. ET) Borodin's defining Russian epic, famous for its Polovtsian Dances, comes to the Met for the first time in nearly 100 years. Dmitri Tcherniakov's new production is a brilliant psychological journey through the mind of its conflicted hero, with the founding of the Russian nation as the backdrop. Star bass-baritone Ildar Abdrazakov takes on the monumental title role, with Gianandrea Noseda conducting. *Saturday, March 15, 2014 - WERTHER (12:55 p.m. ET) Jonas Kaufmann stars in the title role of Massenet's sublime adaptation of Goethe's revolutionary and tragic romance, opposite Sophie Koch as Charlotte. The new production is directed and designed by Richard Eyre and Rob Howell, the same team that created the Met's recent hit staging of Carmen. Maestro Alain Altinoglu conducts. Saturday, April 5, 2014 - LA BOHÈME (12:55 p.m. ET) Puccini's moving story of young love is the most performed opera in Met history--and with good reason. Anita Hartig stars as the frail Mimì in Franco Zeffirelli's classic production, with Vittorio Grigolo as her passionate lover, Rodolfo, Susanna Phillips as Musetta and Massimo Cavalletti as Marcello. April 26, 2014 - "Cosi Fan Tutte" Mozart's beloved opera about testing the ties of love stars Susanna Phillips and Isabel Leonard as sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella, Matthew Polenzani and Rodion Pogossov as their lovers, Danielle de Niese as the clever Despina and Maurizio Muraro as the cynical Don Alfonso. May 10, 2014 - "La Cenerentola" A peerless pair of Rossini virtuosos joins forces in "La Cenerentola"--a vocal tour de force for mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, singing her first Met performances of the Cinderella title role, and the high-flying tenor Juan Diego Flórez, as her Prince Charming. Alessandro Corbelli as Cenerentola's stepfather Don Magnifico, and Luca Pisaroni as Don Ramiro's tutor, Alidoro, with Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leading the effervescent score. All productions start at 12:55 except for "Eugene Onegin," which starts at noon