Week 18 brings us an opulent array of beloved operas and artists as well as a very special initiative from the Metropolitan Opera that kicks off on Saturday, July 18: a series of pay-per-view recitals by today’s operatic superstars entitled Met Stars Live in Concert. The solo and duo recitals will be transmitted live from amazing locations around the world. Find out more about this pioneering recital series.
The nightly opera stream starts, as usual, at 7:30 p.m. on the Met’s homepage (just scroll down past the Met Stars Live in Concert announcement) and can be accessed for 22 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 13
Puccini’s Manon Lescaut – Starring Kristine Opolais, Roberto Alagna, Massimo Cavalletti, and Brindley Sherratt, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From March 5, 2016.
This tragic tale of a beautiful young woman torn between love and wealth is based on the 1731 novel Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost. There have been many adaptations of the story including another popular opera—Manon by Jules Massenet. Tonight’s production by Richard Eyre sets the story in the 1940s in occupied France.
Tuesday, July 14
Verdi’s La Traviata – Starring Ileana Cotruba?, Plácido Domingo, and Cornell MacNeil, conducted by James Levine. Transmitted live on March 28, 1981.
The dramatic love story of the young Parisian courtesan is based on the play adaptation of the novel by Alexandre Dumas, the younger: La dame aux camélias (The Lady of the Camellias also known as Camille). This historic telecast features the magnificent Romanian opera superstar Ileana Cotruba? in the title role. There are several film adaptations, but Greta Garbo’s performance in the 1936 film version—on Amazon is indisputably iconic.
Wednesday, July 15
Puccini’s Turandot – Starring Maria Guleghina, Marina Poplavskaya, Marcello Giordani, and Samuel Ramey, conducted by Andris Nelsons. From November 7, 2009.
The opera that gives new meaning to losing one’s head for love. The beautiful Chinese princess Turandot asks three riddle questions of her princely suitors, and when they cannot answer all of them, she orders their heads chopped off. Will the mysterious Prince (Calaf) solve the three riddles and marry her? The story is based on the play Turandot by Count Carlo Gozzi. Its origin stems from one of the seven stories in the epic Haft Paykar by 12th-century Persian poet Nizami. Puccini set the story in China and used traditional Chinese music for several themes, most notably Turandot’s theme. The opera is best known for its rousing, triumphant tenor aria, “Nessun dorma” (None shall sleep).
Thursday, July 16
Berg’s Wozzeck – Starring Elza van den Heever, Tamara Mumford, Christopher Ventris, Gerhard Siegel, Andrew Staples, Peter Mattei, and Christian Van Horn, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. From January 11, 2020.
This first opera of Austrian composer Alban Berg is based on Georg Büchner’s play Woyzeck, the harrowing tale of a poor soldier’s medically-manipulated descent into madness and eventual murder of his lover. Wozzeck is regarded as the first opera in the 20th-century “avant-garde” style. It is also one of the best-known operatic examples of “Sprechgesang” (spoken singing) and atonality (music that avoids establishing a key).
Friday, July 17
Rossini’s La Cenerentola – Starring Elina Garan?a, Lawrence Brownlee, Simone Alberghini, and John Relyea, conducted by Maurizio Benini. From May 9, 2009.
The Cinderella story in Rossini’s lively and playful musical vision. The beloved fairy tale with which we are most familiar originated with the story called Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper published by French writer Charles Perrault in 1697. In 1812, the Brothers Grimm offered their own version, and in 1950, Cinderella arrived on the big screen thanks to Disney. For a live action film adaptation of the story, rent the 2015 movie on Amazon.
Saturday, July 18
Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro – Starring Amanda Majeski, Marlis Petersen, Isabel Leonard, Peter Mattei, and Ildar Abdrazakov, conducted by James Levine. From October 18, 2014.
The sequel to The Barber of Seville, this opera is based on the play La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro (The Crazy Day or the Marriage of Figaro) by Pierre Beaumarchais—available on Amazon—a play initially banned in Vienna for its representation of class structure and its abuses. Heavenly, comedic, tender, and moving, Mozart’s music with Lorenzo Da Ponte’s lyrical libretto have created what many consider the greatest opera ever composed.
Sunday, July 19
Puccini’s La Bohème – Starring Teresa Stratas, Renata Scotto, José Carreras, Richard Stilwell, and James Morris, conducted by James Levine. From January 16, 1982.
One of the most frequently performed operatic crowd-favorites is back! The 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. In this telecast from 1982, we experience the distinctive artistry of three legendary singers: Teresa Stratas as Mimi, José Carreras as Rodolfo, and Renata Scotto as Musetta.
Top photo: Bigstock