The Metropolitan Opera celebrates its 80th season of Saturday Afternoon Radio Broadcasts-the longest-running classical music series in American broadcast history-with a 22-week season featuring many of the world's greatest operatic artists, beginning December 18. Broadcast live over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network, the season begins with Verdi's grand epic Don Carlo and continues with 20 additional live matinee performances direct from the Met stage, plus a special archival broadcast of Smetana's rollicking comic opera The Bartered Bride from 1978.
This season will mark the Saturday Matinee Broadcast premiere of two operas. John Adams will conduct the Met premiere of his opera Nixon in China on February 12, and Rossini's rarely performed comedy Le Comte Ory will have its broadcast premiere on April 9 in a new Met production by Bartlett Sher that stars Juan Diego Flórez, Diana Damrau, and Joyce DiDonato.
Music Director James Levine, celebrating his 40th anniversary with the Met, will conduct six broadcast performances including the first two installments of director Robert Lepage's much-heralded new production of Wagner's four-part cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen. On April 2, Levine leads Das Rheingold, followed by Die Walküre on May 14. The cast of international stars assembled for the Ring includes Bryn Terfel as Wotan; Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde; Jonas Kaufmann as Siegmund; Stephanie Blythe as Fricka; and Eva-Maria Westbroek, in her Met debut, as Sieglinde. On February 5, Levine conducts Verdi's powerful Simon Boccanegra, with Dmitri Hvorostovsky in the title role for the first time at the Met, followed on February 19 by Anna Netrebko, Matthew Polenzani, and Mariusz Kwiecien in Donizetti's playful Don Pasquale. German mezzo-soprano Waltraud Meier returns to the Met as Marie in Berg's Wozzeck (April 16) with Levine conducting, and the starry quartet of Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick, Marcelo Àlvarez, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky sing Verdi's popular Il Trovatore on April 30, under the Music Director's baton.
The season-opening Don Carlo, one of the Met's seven new productions this season, marks the debut of Tony Award-winning director Nicholas Hytner. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts a cast that includes YongHoon Lee in the title role, Marina Poplavskaya as Elisabeth de Valois, Simon Keenlyside as Rodrigo, and Ferruccio Furlanetto as Philip II. Radio listeners will also hear this season's new productions of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, conducted by Valery Gergiev, directed by Stephen Wadsworth, and starring René Pape in the title role (March 12); and La Traviata, directed by Willy Decker and starring Marina Poplavskaya in her first Met Violettas, with Matthew Polenzani as Alfredo (January 15).
Other broadcast season highlights include Pelléas et Mélisande on January 1, conducted by Berlin Philharmonic principal conductor Simon Rattle in his Met debut; Deborah Voigt making her Met role debut as La Fanciulla del West on January 8 (this season is the 100th anniversary of the world premiere of Fanciulla which took place at the Met on December 10, 1910) ; Georgian soprano Nino Machaidze debuting as Gilda opposite Joseph Calleja as the Duke in Rigoletto (January 22); Sondra Radvanovsky's first Met performances in the title role of Tosca (January 29); Plácido Domingo and Susan Graham reprising their triumphant star turns in Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride (February 26); Renée Fleming as Rossini's Armida (March 5) and, in her Met role debut, as the Countess in Richard Strauss's Capriccio (April 23); Natalie Dessay as Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor (March 19); Karita Mattila, Vladimir Galouzine, and Peter Mattei in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades (March 26); and Violeta Urmana in Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos (May 7).
Special Archive Broadcast
In honor of James Levine's 40th anniversary season with the Met, a special broadcast from the Met's archives will air on December 25: Smetana's The Bartered Bride, a work Levine has conducted to tremendous acclaim in two full runs at the Met and on tour with the Met Orchestra. The December 2, 1978 performance featured Levine leading an exceptional cast that included Teresa Stratas, Nicolai Gedda, Jon Vickers, and Martti Talvela.
The Met will continue the celebration of James Levine's 40th anniversary season with a series of intermission features in which the Maestro and a host of great artists-including Renée Fleming, James Morris, Renata Scotto, Christa Ludwig, Sherrill Milnes, Frederica von Stade, and former concertmaster Raymond Gniewek-will share their reminiscences of working together.
Host Margaret Juntwait, now in her seventh season, will be joined once again in the broadcast booth by commentator Ira Siff, now in his fourth season. The live Backstage Interviews and the popular Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera Quiz, hosted by a variety of artists, return this season as part of the broadcast intermission features. As always, a host of Met singers, directors, and designers will visit the broadcast booth to discuss their Current Productions with the company.