Donizetti’s Anna Bolena Opens 2011-2012 Season of the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD

The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD 2011-2012 season (via satellite at movie theaters) opens on Saturday, October 15, 2011, at 12:55 pm Eastern time (ET), with a new production of the opera Anna Bolena, by Gaetano Donizetti.

Anna Bolena stars Anna Netrebko in the title role, with Ekaterina Gubanova as Anna’s rival, Jane Seymour. The opera takes place in sixteenth-century England, and boasts one of the greatest mad scenes in musical theater. Although the setting is in England, the opera is sung in Italian. Of course, there are English captions displayed prominently (yet discreetly) on the screen.

The next Live in HD performance of the Metropolitan Opera shown at movie theaters around the world will be Mozart’s Don Giovanni, on Saturday, October 29, again at 12:55 pm ET. This story of the licentious nobleman also has an Italian libretto. Mariusz Kwiecien plays Don Giovanni, directed by Tony Award-winner Michael Grandage, and James Levine conducts.

Wagner’s Siegfried, the third opera in his Ring cycle, is also the third opera in this series, and will be presented in theaters on Saturday, November 5, at noon ET. This one is in German-with English captions, always English captions! Deborah Voigt is Brunnhilde; Gary Lehman is Siegfried; Bryn Terfel is the Wanderer. James Levine conducts.

On Saturday, November 19, at 12:55 pm ET, the Met Live in HD departs from the standards and presents Satyagraha, Philip Glass’s opera about Mahatma Gandhi and nonviolence as he practiced it. This opera will be performed in English. Richard Croft is Gandhi.

On Saturday, December 3, at 12:30 pm ET Renee Fleming will appear Live in HD in Rodelinda. This opera, written by Handel in 1719, is based on a play by Corneille, and has an Italian libretto.

On December 10, 2011, at 12:55 pm ET, Gounod’s Faust will be the featured opera for Saturday afternoon at the movies. The libretto is in French. Jonas Kaufmann plays the title role. Rene Pape plays the devil, and Marina Poplavskaya is Marguerite.

The first Met Live In HD showing in 2012 will be on Saturday, January 21, also at 12:55 pm ET. The Enchanted Island, based on some of Shakespeare’s works, will feature arias and ensembles by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau and others. The music is baroque, the language the English of Dryden and Pope-minus the thees and thous, according to librettist Jeremy Sams. The all-star cast includes Joyce DiDonato, David Daniels, and Placido Domingo.

On Saturday, February 11, at 12:00 pm ET, Wagner’s Gotterdammerung, the last of the operas in his Ring cycle, will be performed, in German with supertitles. Again Deborah Voigt plays Brunnhilde and Gary Lehman Siegfried, and again James Levine conducts.

February 25 at 12:55 ET, Verdi’s Ernani will be performed. Based on a play by Victor Hugo, it has an Italian libretto. Angela Meade and Marcello Giordani play mismatched lovers.

On April 7, 2012, a new production of Massenet’s French comic opera Manon will be screened at 12:00 pm ET. Anna Netrebko portrays the heroine.

Last but not least, on April 14, 2012, at 12:55, Verdi’s La Traviata will be screened, in Italian. This opera will star Natalie Dessay as Violetta.

As mentioned above, all but one of the operas are sung in languages other than English. Monolingual music lovers, do not let this deter you! The languages are sometimes as beautiful as the music and may even inspire you to study one of them. But if not, there are the reliable captions.

Tickets for the operas are $24, seniors $20.

Encore performances of all operas are usually held in the movie theaters a week and a half later, on Wednesday evenings. Check your theater to make sure they host these encores (some don’t), and for exact times.

The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD provides an excellent sample for those who haven’t yet had the experience of seeing an opera in person, as well as a delicious treat for those who love it. It’s accessible, and it’s magnificent.

NOTE: Since this article was written, Met music director and principal conductor James Levine has withdrawn from his performances at the Metropolitan Opera because of a fall that damaged a vertebra. Levine will be replaced by principal guest conductor Fabio Luisi for the time being.


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