Eye-popping projections in 3-D and scintillating star casting is on tap for the Metropolitan Opera’s newly announced 2011-12 season at Lincoln Center. The Met’s General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine jointly announced the ambitiously exciting season, which includes seven new productions, the completion of Wagner’s Ring cycle enhanced by 3-D imagery, the directorial debuts of two Tony-winning directors and 11 Live in HD transmissions.
It seems that the mission taken by Peter Gelb to create a global awareness of the Met has succeeded on many levels. Demographic results taken from audience surveys show that the Met’s audience has gradually drawn in younger patrons over the past few seasons. The average age of patrons went from 60.4 in 2005 to 57.7 in 2011, a subtle but marked difference that proves there is a transition happening that has drawn newer ticketholders to its stealth programming. Plus their Varis Ticket Rush program, in honor of the generous support by Met board member Agnes Varis, which prices prime orchestra seats at $20 on weeknights and $25 on weekends, most likely helped contribute to that audience shift.
Gelb also conceived the then un-heard-of idea of investing into live HD simulcasts on an international scale. It was a novelty just a few years ago. Now six years later, operagoers from all parts of the country make this a part of their schedule on Saturday afternoons, watching live opera from nearby in Manhattan to a politically-liberated cinema in Egypt. Other organizations are picking up on this trend: the National Theatre in London is in the midst of its 2nd year of showing live theatrical fare, the LA Philharmonic is slowly experimenting with three symphonic concerts and the Royal Opera House is going one step further by presenting Carmen in 3-D.
This 3-D trend, however, will not be carried over into the Met’s simulcasts (not now at least), but it will be featured on stage projections of Siegfried, Cycle 3 of Wagner’s The Ring of Nibelung. If all goes according to plan, director Robert Lepage will attempt to blend the scenery of computerized stage technology with the movement of live actors that will mesh into a hyperrealistic visual experience. Actual audiences at the opera house will not need those special glasses. But how would it look on a movie screen? I’m trying to envision this coming across in a live screening. Sounds like heady stuff, but credit Lepage for using all the 21st century tools at his disposal in creating this event opera. Wagner would be proud.
The season opens September 26 with the gala premiere of Anna Bolena, starring Anna Netrebko as the titular queen. Michael Grandage (Donmar Warehouse Artistic Director, Red, Frost/Nixon) and Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys) will both direct their first operas with new stagings of Don Giovanni and Faust, respectively. The New Year’s Eve opera will be a new Baroque pastiche of The Enchanted Island, a melding of characters from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest. Gandhi returns in a reprisal of Phillip Glass’s Satyagraha in a theatrically vivid production.
The Met also will be continuing its highly popular Live in HD series at cinemas with 11 features next season. The list is as follows:
October 15, 2011 – Anna Bolena
October 29 – Don Giovanni
November 5 – Siegfried
November 19 – Satyagraha
December 3 – Rodelinda
December 10 – Faust
January 21, 2012 – The Enchanted Island
February 11 – Götterdämmerung
February 25 – Ernani
April 7 – Manon
April 12 – La Traviata
Looks like it will be a busy and exciting season to look forward to at the Met. Be sure to check out their website at www.metopera.org for all the scoop.