As part of the Met Stars Live in Concert series, The Metropolitan Opera celebrates New Year’s Eve with a concert from the neo-Baroque Parktheater in Augsburg, Germany. This dazzling performance features sopranos Angel Blue and Pretty Yende, and tenors Javier Camarena and Matthew Polenzani, performing arias, duets and ensembles from operas such as Donizetti’s La fille du régiment, Puccini’s La bohème, Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, Verdi’s Rigoletto, and Lehár’s The Merry Widow, as well as a selection of Neapolitan songs.
Angel Blue, originally from California made her Met Opera debut in the Company’s Summer Recital Series in New York’s Central Park. Described by the Observer as a “bewitching soprano”, she is a protégée of Plácido Domingo, a regular BBC Proms presenter, and as far as performances are concerned, equally at home in the concert hall or opera house. This past season has seen Angel Blue appear as Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata at both the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and Teatro Alla Scala in Milan, as Mimi in Puccini’s La bohème for Canadian Opera Company and Staatsoper in Berlin, in the title role of Puccini’s Tosca at the Festival d’Aix en Provence and as Bess in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess for the Met.
South African soprano Pretty Yende – “Possessed of diamanté tone and a megawatt smile” (The Telegraph) and “A voice that can reach the stars” (The Washington Post) – made her professional operatic debut at the Latvian National Theatre in Riga as Micaela in Carmen. Since then, she has appeared on the stages of nearly all of the major theatres of the world, including the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Opéra National de Paris, Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opernhaus Zürich and Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. In concert, Ms Yende has a repertoire which includes Mozart ‘s Requiem and Missa Solemnis, Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem, Vivaldi’s Magnificant, Faure’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Mass in C and 9th Symphony, as well as Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs.
Mexican tenor Javier Camarena is regarded as the foremost Mozart and bel canto specialist of his generation. Last season, as Ernesto in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, he became only the second singer in Metropolitan Opera history to perform encores in multiple productions at the house. This followed his 2014 triumph, when he became only the third singer in 70 years to give an encore on the New York stage – the first two stars having been Luciano Pavarotti and Juan Diego Flórez. Camarena stopped the house in consecutive performances of Prince Ramiro’s aria Si ritrovarla io guiro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, and repeated this achievement in La fille du régiment at Madrid’s Teatro Real – only the second time that a singer had given an encore there since its reopening. His appearance in this work at the Royal Opera House was also highly praised, with the Express writing that Camarena had “confirmed his reputation as opera’s new superstar with a scintillating performance”.
“Few singers today,” writes Opera News, “command the sheer beauty of timbre and dynamic control of Matthew Polenzani” referring also to his “almost impossibly beautiful pianissimo”. This American tenor has, to date, starred in more than 300 performances at The Met, among them a previous New Year’s Eve Gala in which he sang Act I of La bohème opposite soprano Anna Netrebko. Other performances include appearances in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux (featured on PBS’ Great Performances at the Met), Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Verdi’s La Traviata and Rigoletto, Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte, Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. In 2021, Mr Polenzani is scheduled to appear in La bohème at Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Die Zauberflöte for Palm Beach Opera and Massenet’s Werther at Staatsoper Stuttgart.
This illustrious line-up of Metropolitan Opera stars appears live in concert from the Parktheater in Augsburg, Germany, on Thursday evening. This beautiful, ornate edifice was commissioned by Hofrat Friedrich Hessing, an organ builder and pioneer in the field of orthopaedic technology, and designed by German architect Jean Keller. Built in 1886, it combined the functions of a theatre, society house and winter garden in one hall, and is the showpiece of the Kurhaus Augsburg-Göggingen – a health resort which by 1899 had become the largest orthopaedic specialist clinic in Europe. The Parktheater, with its cast-iron railings and stained glass windows, is set in beautiful gardens and parkland, and is the only preserved multifunctional theatre of the European Renaissance era.
The evening’s host will be Christine Goerke in New York City, linked to the Parktheater by satellite, and Gary Halvorson, the Met’s award-winning director of the company’s Live in HD cinema transmissions, will direct.
The Met Stars Live in Concert: New Year’s Eve Gala is a pay per view performance, part of the Met’s fundraising campaign to support the company and protect its future. The concert takes place on 31st December at 9.00 pm GMT, and will be available on demand for 14 days. Tickets, priced at $20, are now on sale on the Met’s website.
The program can be viewed on a computer, mobile device, or home entertainment system (via Chromecast or AirPlay).
Information sourced from:
Metropolitan Opera programme notes
Photograph of Parktheater: By Zairon – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0