The Metropolitan Opera in Your Homes—Week 37: Not Your Favorite Relatives

In Week 37, the Met invites us to experience seven operatic family dramas that would make the most dysfunctional family dynamics pale by comparison. In this year’s more isolated Thanksgiving, we might appreciate even our most challenging relatives after an evening with Elektra’s, Hamlet’s or Lucia’s kin. The nightly opera stream starts at 7:30 p.m. on the Met’s homepage 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, November 23
Verdi’s Il Trovatore – Starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick, Marcelo Álvarez, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Marco Armiliato. From April 30, 2011.

The dramatic tale of a love triangle, a lost brother, a mother’s revenge, and fantastical and tragic twists of fate is based on the play El trovador (The Troubadour) by Antonio García Gutiérrez. Beautiful, sweeping 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.”

Tuesday, November 24
Nico Muhly’s Marnie – Starring Isabel Leonard, Iestyn Davies, and Christopher Maltman, conducted by Roberto Spano. From November 10, 2018.

A twentieth-century operatic thriller! Based on the 1961 psychological crime novel by Winston Graham that inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s film Marnieavailable to rent on Amazon—this opera was commissioned by the Met, and premiered to great success.

Wednesday, November 25
Thomas’s Hamlet – Starring Marlis Petersen, Jennifer Larmore, Simon Keenlyside, and James Morris, conducted by Louis Langrée. From March 27, 2010.

The opera is based on a French adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet by Alexandre Dumas, père, and Paul Meurice, a version that is more compact and somewhat different from the Shakespearean plot. French interest in Hamlet was greatly fueled in 1827 when Irish actress Harriet Smithson inspired an Ophelia craze in Paris—including fashion and hairstyles à la Ophelia—by her performance of Shakespeare’s unhappy heroine who goes mad and drowns herself. The play provided the composer with the opportunity to create a crowd-pleasing “mad scene” in accordance with grand opera tradition. 

Thursday, November 26
Strauss’s Elektra – Starring Nina Stemme, Adrianne Pieczonka, Waltraud Meier, and Eric Owens, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. From April 30, 2016.

One of Richard Strauss’ powerful collaborations with genius librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, this opera is a modernistic take on the Greek tragedy by Sophocles.

Friday, November 27
Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor – Starring Natalie Dessay, Joseph Calleja, Ludovic Tézier, and Kwangchul Youn, conducted by Patrick Summers. From March 19, 2011.

Based on Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel The Bride of Lamermoor, this tragic story of doomed love, forced marriage, and murder abounds with unforgettable melodies and Lucia’s famous mad scene: a showcase piece of virtuosity for the soprano voice. This opera is a staple of the bel canto (beautiful singing) style repertory of the eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century.  

Saturday, November 28
Wagner’s Die Walküre – Starring Christine Goerke, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Jamie Barton, Stuart Skelton, Greer Grimsley, and Günther Groissböck, conducted by Philippe Jordan. From March 30, 2019.

The story of the Ring Cycle’s second music drama is based on Norse mythology and Teutonic literature. Here we are introduced to one of the bravest and most noble characters in opera, Brünhilde, a Valkyrie (female figure in Norse mythology who chooses those who live and those who die in battles). “The Ride of the Valkyries” is one of the best-known pieces in all classical music: often performed on its own as a concert piece. 

Sunday, November 29
Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra – Starring Kiri Te Kanawa, Plácido Domingo, Vladimir Chernov, and Robert Lloyd, conducted by James Levine. From January 26, 1995.

The story is based on the play Simón Bocanegra by Antonio García Gutiérrez, whose play El trovador inspired an earlier opera by Verdi, Il trovatore. Political intrigue, self-sacrifice, paternal love, and young passion are at the core of this complicated plot about a 14th century Doge of Genoa, his long-lost daughter Amelia, and her lover, Adorno.

Top photo: Bigstock

About Maria-Cristina Necula (68 Articles)
Maria-Cristina Necula’s published work includes the newly-released "The Don Carlos Enigma: Variations of Historical Fictions," "Life in Opera: Truth, Tempo and Soul," two translations: "Europe à la carte" and Molière’s "The School for Wives," and three poetry collections. Her articles and interviews have appeared in "Classical Singer" Magazine, "Das Opernglas," "Studies in European Cinema," and "Opera News." As a classically-trained singer she has performed in the New York City area at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Florence Gould Hall, and the Westchester Broadway Theatre, and has presented on opera at The Graduate Center, Baruch, The City College of New York, and UCLA Southland. She speaks six languages, two of which she honed at the Sorbonne University in Paris and the University of Vienna, and she holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from The Graduate Center. Discover more about her work at www.mariacristinanecula.com.