The Met’s nightly stream continues in its 13th week of musical and dramatic magic. This week’s operatic stories are inspired by a wide range of works, from history to fairy tales and legends, housed in music that is stirring, unforgettable, and haunting. The performances begin at 7:30 p.m. on the Met’s homepage and can be accessed for 20 hours. Please click on the title of each opera below for more information and the link to the full synopsis.
Monday, June 8
Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito – Starring Lucy Crowe, Barbara Frittoli, Elina Garanca, Kate Lindsey, and Giuseppe Filianoti, conducted by Harry Bicket. From December 1, 2012.
This opera had a political agenda: it premiered a few hours after the coronation of Leopold II as the King of Bohemia to celebrate the event and to alleviate post-French Revolution internal political and social conflicts. The story of the magnanimous Roman emperor Tito had been set to music in several operatic adaptations before Mozart took it on. For a long time, this final opera of Mozart’s was criticized as inferior to his other works. In recent years, renewed interest and relevant directorial concepts have brought it back into the mainstream repertoire.
Tuesday, June 9
Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle – Starring Anna Netrebko and Piotr Becza?a in Iolanta, and Nadja Michael and Mikhail Petrenko in Bluebeard’s Castle, conducted by Valery Gergiev. From February 14, 2015.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky got the inspiration for his final opera from reading the Danish play Kong Renés Datter (King René’s Daughter) by Henrik Hertz in The Russian Messenger magazine. His brother, Modest Tchaikovsky, wrote the libretto for this fictionalized tale about 15th-century Duchess Yolande de Bar. This production is Iolanta’s Metropolitan Opera premiere.
An opera with only two characters, Bluebeard’s Castle, is based on the French story La barbe bleue (Bluebeard) by Charles Perrault. Known as an expressionist opera because it avoids “‘traditional forms of beauty to convey powerful feelings in music,’” the gruesome legend of Bluebeard and his penchant for murdering his wives is frighteningly depicted in this particular Met production that uses technology to great effect to instill horror and mystery. On a symbolic level the opera has been seen as an allegory for the composer’s own personal, private suffering or, according to tonight’s interpreter of Judith, Nadja Michael, as the journey of a woman who faces the horrors of her past.
Wednesday, June 10
Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel – Starring Christine Schäfer, Alice Coote, Rosalind Plowright, Philip Langridge, and Alan Held, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. From January 1, 2008.
The beloved children’s story Hansel and Gretel by the Brothers Grimm found a musical home in this fairy-tale opera by Engelbert Humperdinck whose sister wrote the libretto. Its music is inspired by folk themes as well as by some of the harmonic techniques of Richard Wagner for whom Humperdinck worked as an assistant for a time. The roles of the two children are embodied by adults: Hansel is sung by a mezzo-soprano while Gretel by a soprano. In cinema, the most recent adaptation is the 2020 horror film Gretel and Hansel by director Osgood Perkins.
Thursday, June 11
John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles – Starring Teresa Stratas, Renée Fleming, Marilyn Horne, Graham Clark, Gino Quilico, and Håkan Hagegård, conducted by James Levine. From January 10, 1992.
In past opera stream weeks, we have enjoyed Pierre Beaumarchais’ Figaro plays in adaptations by Rossini (The Barber of Seville) and Mozart (The Marriage of Figaro). Here is an opera very loosely inspired by the last play in The Figaro Trilogy (the play’s title is La mère coupable—The Guilty Mother). For its 100th anniversary in 1983, the Metropolitan Opera commissioned the work from composer John Corigliano, but the opera actually premiered in 1991. This opera-within-an-opera brings together fantastical elements, fictional characters, ghosts of historical figures from Louis XVI’s court, like Marie Antoinette, and Beaumarchais himself as a character.
Friday, June 12 & Saturday June 13
At-Home Gala(Encore Screening)
In a re-broadcast of the recent At-Home Gala, more than 40 leading artists and members of the Met Orchestra and Chorus perform virtually from their homes around the world, with General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin as hosts. From April 25, 2020.
Sunday, June 14
Handel’s Rodelinda – Starring Renée Fleming, Stephanie Blythe, Andreas Scholl, Iestyn Davies, Joseph Kaiser, and Shenyang, conducted by Harry Bicket. From December 3, 2011.
From the master of Baroque opera comes an iconic work of seventeenth-century music. There were a series of previous libretto adaptations of this story. The tale originates from Pierre Corneille’s 1652 tragedy Pertharite, roi des Lombards (Pertarito, King of the Lombards) that, in turn, derives from Paul the Deacon’s eighth-century historical work Gesta Langobardorum (History of the Lombards). Handel composed the opera for the Royal Academy of Music in London, whose prestigious reputation he helped establish.
Top photo: Bigstock