Yesterday, Metropolitan Opera announced the cancellation of their already truncated 20/21 season which was supposed to have launched with a New Year’s Eve 2020 gala followed by winter and spring 2021 seasons. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even that shortened Met season has now been canceled, putting what must be 1000s of artists out of work.
In a somewhat surprise move, and certainly a nod to a more positive future for opera at America’s largest company, they also announced plans for a full 21/22 season which includes the participation of many Canadian artists.
The Met also seems to be paying attention to the zeitgeist given their 21/22 plans for more new opera than ever before, as well as productions highlighting Black artists. Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones which premiered at Opera Theater of St. Louis in 2019, will open the season on Sept. 27th, 2021, with the Met’s Canadian Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the helm.
Another new opera, Matthew Aucoin’s Eurydice, will open on Nov. 23rd, 2021, again with Nézet-Séguin in the pit, and Canadians baritone Joshua Hopkins and bass Nathan Berg heading up the cast. And Brett Dean and Canadian librettist Matthew Jocelyn’s recent opera version of Hamlet which premiered at Glyndebourne in 2017 will make its Met debut on May 13th, 2022.
For the first time in its history, the Met will present the full 5-act French version of Verdi’s Don Carlos in a new production by Sir David McVicar, opening Feb. 28th, 2022. Canadian bass John Relyea will sing Le Grand Inquisiteur and Canadian baritone Etienne Dupuis, Rodrigue, Duc de Posa.
In the revival category, Laurent Pelly’s whimsical staging of Massenet’s Cinderella will return, but in a condensed, family-friendly form for holiday audiences with a new English libretto. Canadian mezzo-soprano Julie Boulianne will sing the title role on Dec. 22nd and Emily D’Angelo takes on the pants role of Prince Charming. Opening Dec. 17th, 2021.
During the season’s opening week, Etienne Dupuis will sing Oreste in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride which also marks the rare appearance of a woman in the Met’s pit when celebrated French mezzo-soprano-turned-conductor Nathalie Stutzmann makes her Met conducting debut.
Sondra Radvanovsky is one of the Toscas in a revival of Puccini’s popular potboiler starting in Dec. 2021.
The new year brings a revival of Richard Eyre’s Downton Abbey-inspired staging of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro with Nézet-Séguin in the pit and starring Canadian bass Gerald Finley as the Count. In May, the company revives one of their 2019 hits, Philip Glass’s Akhnaten, in which Canadian mezzo soprano Rihab Chaieb stars as Nefertiti.
Acknowledging a presumed continued reticence to sit inside a theatre for too long, the Met will present shorter versions of standard operas…for example, the 1869 version of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov clocking in at 2 ¼ hours with no intermission and, Handel’s Rodelinda which will be cut down in length.
The company also announced that as part of “the Met’s efforts to make opera more equitable,” three Black composers—Valerie Coleman, Jessie Montgomery, and Joel Thompson—will take part in the Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Center Theater New Works commissioning program, and that noted African American visual artist Rashid Johnson will create large-scale artworks that will be on display inside the opera house during the 21/22 season.
Arts writer, administrator and singer Gianmarco Segato is Associate Artist Manager for opera with Dean Artists Management. He was Editorial Director of Opera Canada Publications from 2017-2022 and previous to that, Adult Programs Manager with the Canadian Opera Company.