Renowned maestro Daniel Barenboim conducts at the Metropolitan Opera for the first time in his illustrious career on November 28, leading an acclaimed cast in Wagner's master opus of transcendent love, Tristan und Isolde. Singing the title roles for the first time with the company are Swedish soprano Katarina Dalayman and German heldentenor Peter Seiffert. The opening night cast also includes German bass René Pape as King Marke, reprising one of his most admired portrayals; American mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung as Brangäne; and, in his Met debut, German bass-baritone Gerd Grochowski as Kurwenal. Korean bass Kwangchul Youn portrays King Marke in later performances. At all performances, Stephen Gaertner is Melot and Matthew Plenk the Sailor's Voice. This 1999 production by Dieter Dorn continues through December 20.
On Sunday, December 14 at 7:00 p.m., Barenboim, one of the world's great pianists, will play the first solo piano recital on the Met stage since Vladimir Horowitz's legendary performance in 1986. The program consists entirely of works by Franz Liszt: from the "Années de pèlerinage, Deuxième Année: Italie," he plays the three Petrarch sonnets, and "Après une lecture de Dante." Also in the first half of the program is "St. François d'Assise - La predication aux oiseaux" from "Légendes." Following intermission, he performs the virtuosic Paraphrases on three operas by Giuseppe Verdi: Il Trovatore, Aida, and Rigoletto.
On November 23, Barenboim joins Met Music Director James Levine and four members of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program-Lisette Oropesa, Sasha Cooke, Matthew Plenk, and Shenyang-at the season's second MET Chamber Ensemble concert in Weill Hall. He and Levine will play four-hand piano pieces, Schubert's Sonata in C "Grand Duo," and Brahms's Liebeslieder and Neues Liebeslieder Waltzes, accompanying the quartet of young singers.
Throughout a remarkable international career spanning more than five decades, Daniel Barenboim has established himself as one the finest concert pianists, conductors, and chamber musicians in the world today. Maestro Barenboim made his conducting debut in London with the New Philharmonia Orchestra in 1967, and from 1975 to 1989 he was the Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris. In 1991 he succeeded Sir Georg Solti as Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for 15 years. Opera has figured prominently in his career: Barenboim made his conducting debut in 1973 with a performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Edinburgh International Festival, and in 1981 he made his debut at the Bayreuth Festival, where he has conducted Tristan und Isolde, the Ring cycle, Parsifal, and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. In 1992 he became General Music Director of the Berlin State Opera. He was named "Maestro Scaligero" at La Scala in 2006, where he conducted Patrice Chéreau's new production of Tristan und Isolde in December 2007. Barenboim maintains an active schedule of performances, appearing in recitals and with orchestras worldwide. This season, Carnegie Hall has selected him for his second Perspectives series. Daniel Barenboim has published his autobiography A Life in Music, and Parallels and Paradoxes, which he wrote together with Edward Said. Music Quickens Time, his book arguing for the urgent value of music in this present day, is being published this month in the United States by Verso Books.
Katarina Dalayman, who made her Met debut as Brangäne in 1999, has since appeared as the Duchess of Parma in the Met premiere of Busoni's Doktor Faust, as well as Lisa in The Queen of Spades and Marie in Wozzeck. She has sung Isolde at the Berlin State Opera, most recently under the baton of Maestro Barenboim in September 2008. Other notable engagements include Marie in Stuttgart and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Kundry in Parsifal at the Paris Opera, Sieglinde at Covent Garden, and Brünnhilde in the Stockholm Ring cycle and at Aix-en-Provence, the latter a role she will sing at the Easter Festival in Salzburg in 2009 and 2010.
When Peter Seiffert made his 2004 Met debut in the title role of Wagner's Tannhäuser, the New York Times reported that he "has plenty of Wagnerian power and, rarer, a true tenorial cast to his sound." He has recorded the role with Maestro Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin, a recording which received the Grammy Award in 2003. In 1996 he made his debut as Walther in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Bayreuth Festival and has since appeared there as Lohengrin in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2005. His Tristan has previously bowed at the Vienna State Opera and the Berlin State Opera.
Michelle DeYoung was Brangäne in last year's performances of Tristan und Isolde (part of The Met: Live in HD series). She is an alumna of the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Among the many roles she has sung here are Venus in Wagner's Tannhäuser, the Shaman in the 2006 world premiere of Tan Dun's The First Emperor (also seen as part of Live in HD), and Fricka in Wagner's Die Walküre.