OK, anyone who has followed my articles knows that I am not exactly a fan of New York’s Metropolitan Opera Company. I feel the company has become too politically correct and, in recent years, has not deserved its reputation of being of one the world’s premier opera houses.
Despite this, writing about the Met’s new seasons has become a sort of tradition for me. Usually I discuss new productions and point out highlights and low-lights. However, once I got a look at the Met’s 2012-2013 season, I decided to concentrate on something that I feel is a blatant and inexcusable flaw:
The Metropolitan Opera Company’s 2012-2013 season, which opens on Monday, September 24th, will not include Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme. La Boheme is a perennial opera favorite all over the world and, as of June 19, 2011, has been performed at the Met a record setting 1,239 times (more than Tosca, Aida, and even Carmen).
La Boheme premiered in 1895 and tells the doomed love story of several starving artists in Paris’ Latin Quarter. Sounds simple enough; but the story is brutally realistic and is set to the some of the most breathtaking music ever written.
The music may not be as recognizable to non-opera-goers as that of the universally famous Carmen. However, nearly every opera singer has sung something from La Boheme at some point in his or her life: If Carmen is the world’s most famous opera, La Boheme is arguably the most popular.
La Boheme was first performed at the Met in 1900. It became a house favorite almost immediately and, in 1981, became immortal with the premiere of Franco Zeffirelli’s dazzling production. His has been the only Met La Boheme ever since.
I predict (and I hope, I hope I’m wrong!) that the absence of La Boheme from the Met’s 2012-2013 season is a steppingstone to sending Zeffirelli’s production the same way as the director’s Tosca, La Traviata, and Carmen: Over the past few seasons, the Met has been slowly weeding out Zeffirelli’s beautiful, traditional productions, providing replacements that are interesting to say the least (The new Tosca was sexually explicit and prone to technical failures; La Traviata featured a little red dress, a giant clock that never left the stage, and an opening chorus of women dressed as men; and Carmen was…B-O-R-I-N-G!).
As I have said, I hope I am wrong and that we will see Zeffirelli’s La Boheme return in glory during the 2013-2014 season. However, this does not take away from the fact that, for the many years I have followed the Met, La Boheme has been performed every season without fail. Why is it missing from the 2012-2013 season?
Sources: Bohemian Rhapsody – Franco Zeffirelli recalls the creation of his celebrated production of La Boheme
MetOpera Database’s Repertory Report
Metropolitan Opera’s 2012-2013 Season and Tickets