Shocking poverty: Only four new shows in the Met’s next season

Shocking poverty: Only four new shows in the Met’s next season


norman lebrecht

February 15, 2018

These are the novelties in 2018/19, announced today:

1 Saint-Saëns Samson et Dalila, directed by Darko Tresnjak, conducted by Sir Mark Elder, starring Roberto Alagna and Elīna Garanča.

2 The US premiere of Nico Muhly’s Marnie, which did not go down well in London.

3  La Traviata, directed by Michael Mayerconducted by Nézet-Séguin, starring Diana Damrau.

4 Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, director Sir David McVicar, conductor Gianandrea Noseda, starring Anna Netrebko.

Gelb ascribes the paucity of new shows to the time taken up by a revival of the Robert Lepage Ring cycle.

Others say the kitty is empty.

Four new productions is not much for a major house.

Other highlight:

Gustavo Dudamel will condcut Verdi’s Otello, his Met debut.

Jonas Kaufmann will appear in Fanciulla and Netrebko will sing Aida, her first at the Met.





  • Luigi Nonono says:

    From what I have encountered of Nico’s music, he is one of those trashy young composers who is completely degrading classical music with his pop/rock influences, and hardly deserves to be performed by the most-important organizations, if any at all. Classical music cannot afford to be trendy.

    • Brian says:

      Hmm. Is this satire? (The modernist moniker would suggest as much.)

      • Joel A Stein says:

        I would think that someone with the moniker Luigi Nono would dislike Nico Mulhy’s music. I agree with his comment which I believe was meant seriously.

        • harold braun says:


          • Anne says:

            Just my 2cents. I don’t understand this fascination with Nico Muly. His music is milk toast and lacks narrative and engagement. I can’t for the life of me understand why with all the talented people in the field, the music industry chose to get behind him.

          • John Boy Cooter says:

            A common thread with almost all of the younger composers like Muhly (though whether it’s true with him personally I don’t know) seems to be a lack of familiarity with the basic repertoire. They simply don’t know much of the canon of western music. Somebody said once that the instrumental departments of conservatories only study music written before 1945, and the composition departments only study music after 1945. Seems true enough. I once heard a composition major at a major music school overhear a student practicing the melody from the Largo of the Dvorak 9th symphony. He said “what is that? That sounds familiar…I think I’ve heard that before…” – kind of says it all really. What they do know is pop and move soundtracks and other crap. Hence Muhly, Mazzoli, and all the rest.

    • Una says:

      We do need brand new operas for this century and we do need new audiences generally in the West as well but no where more than at the Met. So a pity it is being trashed on here already. One has always a choice whether to go or not. Hopefully it will one on the big screen here in England so we can make our own minds up! Certainly money is tight everywhere in all walks of life.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Personally I find the notion that new audiences need new pieces before they come to an opera or classical concert rather bizarre. New pieces are mainly for existing audiences who are bored with the `standard repertoire’. Someone new to opera or the concert hall has a lot of old material which is new to them and which they can enjoy exploring. And someone who hasn’t been before, or only occassionally attends either, wants something they can rely on to give them an enjoyable evening.

  • Waltraud Riegler says:

    “Jonas Kaufmann will appear in Fanciulla and Netrebko will sing Aida, her first at the Met” -> also his first Dick Johnson………….

  • boringfileclerk says:

    Opera is a dead art form. I’m surprised there were this many. At least there’s one token modern piece thrown into the mix. Also, Muhly is a much better composer than one would suspect given his fetish for tonalism.

    And the Met always plays things safe. It’s not like they did Stockhausen’s entire Licht Cycle, or Morton Feldman’s monumental “Neither”. You’ll be getting the same 8 or so operas every other year in rotation. The only time the Met bothered to go out on a limb was last year’s staging of Der Rosenkavalier. For the Met, that was practically entering uncharted territory.

    • Stuart says:

      Licht may not be a good example to support your point as I’m not sure anyone has staged the cycle complete. Opera is not a dead art form but a conservative house like the Met treats it as such.

    • harold braun says:

      Licht is one the most boring things ever written….

      • Stuart says:

        Have to agree based on the two Licht operas that I heard on disc decades ago. Though I find Parsifal (though certainly not the rest of Wagner’s operas) and Messiaen’s St. Francis opera very boring as well.

        • Una says:

          I was in Messiaen’s St Francis and I love it. It was a sell out in London.

          • Stuart says:

            There, see, that proves it is not boring…I have tried but admittedly have not been to see a production – maybe that would have helped – just listened several times on CD. There is plenty of Messiaen that I love, but not St. Francis.

    • Brian says:

      My two cents: If the Met was smart, they’d bring in “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” by Mason Bates ASAP. It did phenomenally well at Santa Fe last summer, it’s a solid score and it drew a very young crowd (I was at the final performance).

      It would have a much better chance at connecting with new audiences than another atonal/modernist score that only a handful of aficionados claim to like (i.e. the Thomas Ades work they’ve been infatuated with in recent years).

      • FS60103 says:

        Ades – “atonal”? LOL. You really don’t know much abut this, do you?

      • Stuart says:

        Have you been to any of the operas written by Ades? Clearly not. I have seen them all. I suspect that his latest will be produced at many more theatres than will take up the Steve Jobs opera. I don’t know Mason Bates’ opera (listened to one bit on YouTube) but suspect that the subject of the opera drew the crowd to the original production in Santa Fe. Seek out a rebroadcast of the Met Exterminating Angel or the DVD of The Tempest. It might change your mind.

  • G. says:

    I always hold out some vain hope that the Met will get interesting. Chalk it up to naiveté?

    • martain smith says:

      truly a vain hope… when one thinks of the status and tradition of this institution – both the old Met and the early years of the New!

      • G. says:

        You’re absolutely right! I only recently became a Met-goer so I’ve got myself a skewed perspective and some misplaced optimism about the whole thing, even though I should know better.

  • Nik says:

    What is this weird obsession with Adriana Lecouvreur? Why do so many leading houses keep producing this insufferable, half-baked snoozefest of an opera and paying the most expensive stars to appear in it?

    • Yes Addison says:

      It seems to be popular with soprano divas, who often push for it. It’s vocally congenial to an Italianate soprano with fading powers (not saying either thing is true about Netrebko). They get to wear pretty costumes, chew the scenery, and be the center of attention, within a relatively easy sing. There is no worse opera in the standard repertory, and it can away any time as far as I’m concerned, but it shows no sign of doing so.

      • Nik says:

        In London they let Pappano, Gheorgiu, Kaufmann and Borodina loose on it. At the end of the day you cannot polish a turd.

        • martain smith says:

          With that cast, certainly not! With Tebaldi, Corelli, Simionato… think again!
          Certainly no worse than some Puccini offerings….

          • FS60103 says:

            Yes, you’re quite right, they should cast Tebaldi. Where is she working this season, do you know?

      • Vaquero357 says:

        Not to mention a good, tear-jerker of a death scene…..and the piece isn’t very long, so everybody gets to supper at a decent hour.

    • Novagerio says:

      Nik, cos it’s a perfect vehicle for a retiring Diva, just like Fedora. And as it already has been pointed it, with the likes of Tebaldi or Olivero, Simionato or Barbieri, Corelli or Del Monaco, it can be pretty effective…

  • anon says:

    why is mcvicar still working with the met if he’s so upset with gelb’s treatment of his friend copley?

    • Bruce says:

      He must be a craven, soulless hypocrite. It’s the only possible explanation.

    • David Hilton says:

      No, there are other explanations. Like the fact that this Adrianna is NOT a ‘new’ production, despite the Met’s claim. It is the same old McVicar production that’s been travelling the world since 2014 and has already been seen in Vienna, Paris, and London. All that’s happening is that Charles Edwards’ sets and Brigitte Reiffenstuel’s costumes are being packed up and shipped from London to New York. So, yes, McVicar is technically still working with the Met, but at a very low level of involvement.

      • Yes Addison says:

        If he’s planning to work with the Met premiere cast for weeks before the opening night (opening night is their New Year’s gala this year), then it’s a higher level of involvement than just sets and costumes being trucked in.

        Anyway, Mr. McVicar comments here on occasion, so he can tell us, if he likes, if he is severing his relationship with the Met over John Copley’s dismissal from a revival of the Semiramide production. I tend to doubt it.

    • collin says:

      A paycheck is a paycheck, a friend is a friend, the Met is the Met.

  • Yes Addison says:

    Four new productions would have been about average in the Volpe years, which weren’t that long ago. In fact, that’s exactly how many there were in his final season (Don Pasquale, R&J, Mazeppa, American Tragedy). The relentless drum beat on this site sometimes puts me on Gelb’s side. If he had scheduled the more typical five or six new productions, say, something to replace the much-loathed Grandage Don Giovanni, the headline probably have been “Gelb’s wasteful spending continues,” with perplexity that they were already replacing the Don Giovanni after only seven years.

  • Jackyt says:

    Surely, the best news is that Juan Diego Florez is returning to the Met, after a five year absence, to sing in La Traviata with Diana Damrau. (It will be shown in cinemas in HD on December 15th)

  • David Hilton says:

    ‘Four new productions is not much for a major house.’ Really? Where is the major house that is offering more than four new productions this season? Or next? I don’t know of one.

    • Andreas B. says:

      Vienna? Munich? Berlin? Zurich?

    • Jessica says:

      2018/19 hasn’t been announced yet here but Oper Frankfurt are doing 13 new production in 2017/18 (including the concert perfs of Devereux and two one-acters). Expect next year to be broadly similar, numbers-wise.

    • FS60103 says:

      6 new productions at Covent Garden this year, 5 in Cardiff in 16/17; strewth, there are eight new productions in LEEDS this season.

    • Frankster says:

      Seven new productions at the Paris Opera: Bérénice, Les Troyens, Les Huguenots, Don Giovanni, Simon Boccanegra, Il Primo Omicidio et Lady Macbeth de Mzensk …

  • El Cid says:

    The Met should consider, Maestro Diego Matheuz, who previously directed the Fenice Opera. He is a compatriot of Maestro Dudamel from the quarry of music talent, Venezuela. He currently travels from Europe to Australia, and can surely make a stopover in New York.