The Metropolitan Opera continues its highly popular streams of Live in HD productions and classic telecasts, taking as its next theme From Page to Stage – a week of operas based on works by some of the world’s greatest authors. These include Gounod’s Faust, Verdi’s Rigoletto, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini, The Nose by Shostakovich, Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, and Verdi’s Luisa Miller.
Monday, April 5th, features Gounod’s Faust, loosely based on Part One of the Goethe play. Jonas Kaufmann stars in the title role, as the ageing philosopher who sells his soul to Mephistopheles – sung by René Pape – in return for youth and the love of the beautiful Marguerite (Marina Poplavskaya). This production, by Des McAnuff, was filmed in December 2011, and conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Verdi based his Rigoletto on Victor Hugo’s 1832 play Le roi s’amuse, which tells of the desperate attempts by Rigoletto, the hunch-backed jester at the court of the Duke of Mantua, to protect his daughter from a disastrous relationship with the lecherous Duke, but who falls victim to his own scheming. From the Met Opera archives, this production was filmed in December 1981, and stars Louis Quilico in the title role, Luciano Pavarotti as the Duke, Christiane Eda-Pierre as Rigoletto’s daughter Gilda, Ara Berberian as Sparafucile and Isola Jones as Maddalena. In this recording, the Met Opera Orchestra and Chorus are led by the late James Levine, production is by John Dexter, and this performance can be seen on Tuesday, April 6th.
Eugene Onegin is Tchaikovsky’s account of Alexander Pushkin’s romantic tragedy in which the young and rather naïve Tatiana (Anna Netrebko) falls in love with the dashing and handsome Onegin – sung by Peter Mattei. He spurns her love, only to regret his decision when she ultimately marries Prince Gremin (Štefan Kocán). Onegin – devastated by Tatiana’s decision not to betray her husband – flirts with Olga (Elena Maximova), wife of his friend Lenski (Alexey Dolgov), and is challenged to a fatal duel. This performance – from April 2017 – is conducted by Robin Ticciati, with production by Deborah Warner, and is available to watch on Wednesday, April 7th.
Another recording from the Met archives is the April 1984 production of Riccardo Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini, the featured work on Thursday, April 8th. Based on the play by Gabriele D’Annunzio, it tells of Francesca – a historical contemporary of Dante Alighieri whom he portrayed as a character in his Divine Comedy – who is tricked into marrying the deformed Giancotto. During the deception she and Giancotto’s brother, Paolo, fall in love, but they are ultimately betrayed by another brother of Giancotto, who also desires Francesca, and when Giancotto discovers the truth, the lovers lose their lives. Renata Scotto sings the title role, Plácido Domingo is Paolo, and Giancotto is sung by Cornell MacNeil in this production by Piero Faggioni, conducted by the late James Levine.
The Nose – the first opera written by Dmitri Shostakovich – is the featured work on Friday, April 9th. A satirical work based on Nikolai Gogol’s 1836 story of the same name, it tells of a St Petersburg official, Kovalyov, whose nose mysteriously goes missing, develops a life of its own, and the lengths to which Kovalyov goes to try and recover it. Recorded in October 2013, it stars Andrey Popov as the Police Inspector, Paulo Szot as Kovalyov and Alexander Lewis as The Nose. Production is by William Kentridge, and Pavel Smelkov conducts.
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has for hundreds of years inspired any number of creative representations of the tragic young couple from 14th century Verona, not least that of French composer Charles Gounod whose Roméo et Juliette is the featured opera on Friday, April 10th. This production by Guy Joosten – which was filmed in December 2007 – stars Anna Netrebko and Roberto Alagna in the title roles, with Nathan Gunn as Mercutio and Robert Lloyd as Friar Laurence. The conductor is Plácido Domingo.
Verdi’s Luisa Miller – based on the play Kabale und Liebe by Friedrich von Schiller – tells of a young village girl, Luisa, who is in love with a man she knows as Carlo, but who is in fact the debonair nobleman Rodolfo, son of Count Walter. Her father has another prospective husband in mind for her, just as Walter has a different potential bride lined up for Rodolfo. The Count and his scheming steward, Wurm, are determined to prevent the two young lovers from marrying, and treachery and intrigue abound, as Luisa is forced to make the agonizing choice between her father and the man she loves. This production, filmed in April, 2018, stars Sonya Yoncheva in the title role, with Piotr Beczała as Rodolfo, Plácido Domingo as Miller, Alexander Vinogradov as Count Walter and Dmitry Belosselskiy as Wurm. The conductor is Bertrand de Billy, production is by Elijah Moshinsky, and the date of transmission is Sunday, April 11th.
All Nightly Met Opera Streams begin at 7.30 pm ET and remain available via metopera.org for 23 hours. The performances are also accessible on all Met Opera on Demand apps.
Information sourced from Metropolitan Opera program notes