A week of sheer melodrama with one effervescent comedy in the mix. Week 17 treats us to the music of the greatest composers of opera: the grand masters Puccini, Verdi, Mozart, and Wagner, alongside which the versatile musical genius Tchaikovsky and the lesser-known Zandonai bring their artistry to two iconic works of literature. The nightly opera stream starts 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. To discover even more about the operas featured this week, check out the weekly guide along with articles, interviews, videos, podcasts, and educational resources.
Monday, July 6
Puccini’s La Bohème – Starring Sonya Yoncheva, Susanna Phillips, Michael Fabiano, Lucas Meachem, Alexey Lavrov, and Matthew Rose, conducted by Marco Armiliato. From February 24, 2018.
We return to one of the most frequently performed operas around the world. This timeless love story is based on Henri Murger’s collection of stories Scènes de la vie de bohème (Scenes of Bohemian Life) and is set in Paris’ artistic Latin Quarter. For some cross-cultural fun, watch the beloved comedy Moonstruck in which the protagonists played by Cher and Nicolas Cage fall even deeper in love at the Metropolitan Opera to the romantic musical and theatrical magic of La bohème, whose melodies infuse the soundtrack of the entire film.
Tuesday, July 7
Verdi’s Il Trovatore – Starring Éva Marton, Dolora Zajick, Luciano Pavarotti, and Sherrill Milnes, conducted by James Levine. From October 15, 1988.
This historic telecast features the inimitable Luciano Pavarotti as Manrico in the dramatic tale of a love triangle, a lost brother, a mother’s revenge, and fantastical and tragic twists of fate based on the play El trovador (The Troubadour) by Antonio García Gutiérrez. Beautiful, sweeping, unforgettable melodies abound in this opera that is a showcase for four voices: tenor, soprano, mezzo-soprano, and baritone, and of which the legendary tenor Enrico Caruso has said: “all it takes for a successful performance of Il trovatore is the four greatest singers in the world.”
Wednesday, July 8
Mozart’s Così fan tutte – Starring Susanna Phillips, Isabel Leonard, Danielle de Niese, Matthew Polenzani, Rodion Pogossov, and Maurizio Muraro, conducted by James Levine. From April 26, 2014.
One of Mozart’s most entertaining operas returns. “Così fan tutte” means “so do they all”—and “they all” refers to women. A hilarious comedy about gender stereotypes, and women’s fidelity in love. The libretto was written by the great Lorenzo Da Ponte with whom Mozart also collaborated on Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro. In the story Mozart and Da Ponte used the idea of “fiancée swapping,” a 13th century theme that is also found in Boccaccio’s Decameron and Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. This opera is a sparkling and exquisite Mozartian gem with memorable arias, ensembles, orchestration, and overall musical delight.
Thursday, July 9
Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini – Starring Eva-Maria Westbroek, Marcello Giordani, and Mark Delavan, conducted by Marco Armiliato. From March 16, 2013.
Tricked into a marriage she never wanted, Francesca falls in love with her husband’s brother, Paolo, who loves her in return, with murderous consequences. This powerful melodrama is based on the play Francesca da Rimini by Gabriele d’Annunzio, which is, in turn, inspired by an episode from Canto V of Dante’s Inferno.
Friday, July 10
Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin – Starring Anna Netrebko, Piotr Becza?a, Mariusz Kwiecie?, and Alexei Tanovitski, conducted by Valery Gergiev. From October 5, 2013.
Tchaikovsky’s operatic masterpiece is based on Pushkin’s novel in verse by the same name—an absolute classic of Russian literature—available on the Poetry in Translation website. The novel has been adapted into several films; a recent British-American version, Onegin (1999), starring Ralph Fiennes and Liv Tyler, is available on Amazon.
Saturday, July 11
Puccini’s Madama Butterfly – Starring Hui He, Elizabeth DeShong, Bruce Sledge, and Paulo Szot, conducted by Pier Giorgio Morandi. From November 9, 2019.
Based on the short story Madame Butterfly by John Luther Long and on David Belasco’s play Madame Butterfly: A Tragedy of Japan, this opera tells the tale of a teenage geisha who marries an American Navy lieutenant with tragic results. There have been many cinematic adaptations of the story—one is the 1995 film of the opera directed by Frédéric Mitterrand. This Metropolitan Opera production was directed by renowned filmmaker Anthony Minghella
Sunday, July 12
Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde – Starring Jane Eaglen, Katarina Dalayman, Ben Heppner, Hans-Joachim Ketelsen, and René Pape, conducted by James Levine. From December 18, 1999.
A supreme landmark of the operatic repertoire. This opera’s complex love story is based on Gottfried von Strassburg’s twelfth-century romance Tristan. The famous “Liebestod” (love death) finale has been a part of several film and television soundtracks to symbolize doomed love, while Lars von Trier’s film Melancholia uses the prelude to underline suffering and impending destruction.
Top photo: Bigstock