The Metropolitan Opera is regaling us with yet another week of great performances on its homepage, beginning at 7:30 p.m. each evening and available until 6:30 p.m. the following day.
Monday, March 30
Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites – Starring Isabel Leonard, Adrianne Pieczonka, and Karita Mattila, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. From May 11, 2019 – Read synopsis
Based on a play by Georges Bernanos, this opera tells the story of the Carmelite nuns who went to the guillotine during the French Reign of Terror for not accepting to renounce their calling. The nuns, known as the martyrs of Compiègne, actually existed and were executed on July 17, 1794. They died singing a religious hymn, and Poulenc captured this in an extremely poignant finale.
Tuesday, March 31
Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) – Starring Joyce DiDonato, Juan Diego Flórez, and Peter Mattei, conducted by Maurizio Benini. From March 24, 2007 – Read synopsis
“Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!” The super-famous name belongs to the title character of one of the most delightful comic operas ever composed. An ideal introduction to opera for newcomers, The Barber of Seville is based on the play by Pierre Beaumarchais.
Wednesday, April 1
John Adams’s Nixon in China – Starring Janis Kelly and James Maddalena, conducted by John Adams. From February 12, 2011 –Read synopsis
The youngest opera featured on the Met’s nightly stream, Nixon in China premiered in 1987. Inspired by President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, this work is an enduring and impactful contribution to contemporary American opera.
Thursday, April 2
Verdi’s Don Carlo – Starring Marina Poplavskaya, Roberto Alagna, Simon Keenlyside, and Ferruccio Furlanetto, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. From December 11, 2010 – Read synopsis
A magnificent masterpiece and one of my personal favorites, Verdi’s greatest political opera highlights the complex conflicts between politics, religion, friendship, and love like no other operatic work. Rooted in sixteenth-century Spanish history and inspired by Friedrich Schiller’s play, Don Carlos, Infant of Spain (read in English translation here), the story turns on the life-and-death psychological power struggle between King Philip II and his son Don Carlos for the love of Elisabeth de Valois, and the freedom of Flanders.
Friday, April 3
Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers) – Starring Diana Damrau, Matthew Polenzani, and Mariusz Kwiecien, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. From January 16, 2016 – Read synopsis
Set in Ceylon, this story of two friends’ love for a high priestess is fraught with inner conflicts: between friendship and rivalry, between sacred and worldly love. The beautiful “friendship duet” is one of the best-known duets for men in all opera.
Saturday, April 4
Verdi’s Macbeth – Starring Anna Netrebko, Joseph Calleja, Željko Lucic, and René Pape, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From October 11, 2014 – Read synopsis
“Fair is foul and foul is fair.” Verdi himself referred to Shakespeare’s tragedy as “one of the greatest creations of man.” His opera follows the play’s action relatively closely (read Shakespeare’s Macbeth online). For a recent adaptation of the play watch the 2015 film with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard – available on Amazon Prime.
Sunday, April 5
Bellini’s Norma – Starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Joyce DiDonato, Joseph Calleja, and Matthew Rose, conducted by Carlo Rizzi. From October 7, 2017 – Read synopsis
The love triangle between a Druid High Priestess, a Roman proconsul, and a young priestess makes for the tragic story of this opera. Norma’s first aria, “Casta Diva,” is a pièce de résistance for all sopranos, as is the entire role. Richard Wagner himself conducted Norma six years after its premiere, and praised it as Bellini’s “most successful composition.” Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen parodied it in his short play Norma, or a Politician’s Love (available for free with Kindle Unlimited).
Top photo: Bigstock