During the current closure of the Metropolitan Opera season, the Company is ensuring that audiences around the world are still able to watch some of its magnificent repertoire of works. Each night of the week, a different opera from the Company’s Live in HD series is being made available for free streaming on the Met website, with each performance available for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 pm EDT until 6:30 pm the following day.
The first three productions this week feature Gaetano Donizetti’s bel canto Tudor trilogy, starting this evening – Monday, April 27 – with Anna Bolena. Set to a libretto by Felice Romani, the opera had its World Premiere at the Teatro Carcano, Milan, in 1830, and tells of the events leading up to the execution of the second wife of Henry VIII. Recorded at the Met on October 15, 2011, this performance stars Anna Netrebko in the title role, Ekaterina Gubanova, Stephen Costello, and Ildar Abdrazakov. The conductor is Marco Armiliato.
The following production, on Tuesday, April 28, is Maria Stuarda – the tragic account of the martyred Mary Queen of Scots. With a libretto by Giuseppe Bardari – adapted from a play by Friedrich Schiller – the opera had its World Premiere at Teatro alla Scala, Milan, in 1835. The action takes place in the latter part of the 16th century in the London court of Queen Elizabeth I, and at Fotheringhay Castle, where Mary was imprisoned before her execution. Starring Elza van den Heever as Queen Elizabeth, Joyce DiDonato as Mary, Queen of Scots, and Matthew Polenzani as Leicester, the production is conducted by Maurizio Benini, and was recorded on January 19, 2013.
Roberto Devereux rounds off the trilogy of the Tudor queens on Wednesday, April 29. Set to a libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, it received its World Premiere at Teatro San Carlo, Napoli, in 1837, and relates the dramatic and heart-rending story of the love between Elizabeth I and the Earl of Essex – she torn between her heart and her duty to her country, he torn between the love of two women. Sondra Radvanovsky sings the role of the queen, Matthew Polenzani takes the title role, Elīna Garanča is Sarah and Mariusz Kwiecien is her husband, the Duke of Nottingham. Recorded on April 16, 2016, the production is led by Maurizio Benini.
Thursday, April 30features a contemporary work – Nico Muhly’s Marnie. Based on Winston Graham’s 1961 novel, the libretto by Nicholas Wright tells of a young con-woman – sung by Isabel Leonard – who takes on a number of identities until her meeting with Mark Rutland – sung by Christopher Maltman. Marnie – in what the Met describes as a “cinematic production” by Michael Mayer – premiered during the Metropolitan Opera’s 2018-19 season. This recording, on November 10, 2018, is led by Roberto Spano.
Friday, May 1 features Verdi’s Aida as the Viewers’ Choice in this week’s productions. It marks the final appearance of soprano Leontyne Price on the opera stage. With a libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, Aida was commissioned for the opening of Khedivial Opera House in Cairo, and premiered on December 24, 1871. The European premiere took place at La Scala, Milan, in 1872. This Met production was transmitted live on January 3, 1985, with a cast which featured Fiorenza Cossotto, James McCracken and Simon Estes. The conductor was James Levine.
It’s Verdi again on Saturday evening, May 2, as the Metropolitan Opera screens a performance of Luisa Miller, recorded on April 14, 2018. The title role is sung by Sonya Yoncheva, with Piotr Beczala as Rodolfo and Plácido Domingo as Luisa’s father. The opera, with a libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, premiered on December 8,1849, at Teatro San Carlo in Naples – immediately before Verdi’s Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata, and centers on the doomed love between Luisa and Rodolfo, complicated by intrigue, and the love for Luisa of her family. This production is led by Bertrand de Billy.
This week’s final opera transmission by the Met, on Sunday, May 2, is Borodin’s Prince Igor, the Company’s first staging of the opera in nearly a century. The libretto – written by the composer – was adapted from the East Slavic epic the Lay of Igor’s Host, recounting the campaign of the Russian prince, Igor Svyatoslavich, against the invading Polovtsian tribes in 1185. The opera, which features the famed Polovtsian Dances, was first performed in St Petersburg in 1890. This production by the Met stars an all-Russian-language cast, headed by Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role, with Oksana Dyka as his wife, Yaroslavna. Anita Rachvelishvili is Konchakova, Sergey Semishkur is Igor’s son Vladimir, Mikhail Petrenko is Prince Galitzky, and Štefan Kocán is Khan Konchak. Recorded on March 1, 2014, the performance is conducted by Gianandrea Noseda.