Met cools on Robert LePage

Met cools on Robert LePage


norman lebrecht

June 11, 2019

The Metropolitan Opera says it has replaced next season’s revival of Robert LePage’s 2008 production of Berlioz’s Damnation de Faust.

‘Unanticipated technical demands,’they say.

LePage’s staging of Wagner’s Ring has been a long-running Met nightmare.

Looks like Gelb has decided that LePage is no longer the Messiah.

Faust will be replaced by concert performances of Berlioz’s légende dramatique, conducted by Edward Gardner, with Elīna Garanča, Ildar Abdrazakov, Bryan Hymel and Michael Spyres.



  • Al Firm says:

    The bigger part of this story is that MET, in modern memory, has not ‘cancelled’ any performances after announcing the season, which they have done here (cancelling 3 of the 7 scheduled shows of ‘Faust’)… I feel like there is an even bigger story about to come out regarding this.

    • DYB says:

      I recall the Met cancelled “La forza del destino” with Luciano Pavarotti after the season was announced because Pavarotti didn’t bother learning the part. They replaced it with “Un ballo in maschera.”

  • Anthony B. says:

    I am not too sure that there actually is more to this story than what the Met’s official statement said. Their explanation makes perfect sense to me.
    If need be, the Met can be somewhat flexible in scheduling.
    They just sometimes aren’t.
    At least I’ll bet the stagehands are very happy about this.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Of course the explanation makes sense, not least because of the precedent of technical challenges around the LePage Ring.

  • Edgar says:

    I propose pulling the witless Lepage RING with immediate effect and replace it with performances of Beethoven 9 until a new production is presented.

    My preference would be to sort things out (legal and otherwise) in regards to putting LA Opera’s Achim Freyer RING on the MET stage, to help the house move into the 21st century.

    I know, Freyer’s visionary production has been decried as “Eurotrash” (unjustly, and of course mostly by those who did not experience it), yet it is, in my experience of lots of RINGs, one of the most appealing as it indeed engages intellect, imagination, and affect in every single bar played, note sung, movement made.

    I consider myself very privileged and lucky to have been in LA in 2010 to witness this unique RING, which, sadly, has not made it to the stage since. Freyer’s RING is, I repeat, a RING for the 21st Century. Which the Lepage RING is decidedly not.

    In the end, though, it is as it has always been: chacun à son goût…

    The definitive disposal as trash of The Met RING Machine is something I very much look forward to.

    • John says:

      Freyer’s Ring was so innovative but it might prove too abstract for conservative audiences. But I also hope I might see it again! There are similar productions in Mannheim and Korea, but they don’t seem to have the symbolic coherence that the Los Angeles production had.

  • margo miller says:

    When I lived in Paris the winter of 1957-1958, “Damnation” was staged at the Opera. That is, unless one of the tech unions struck. Then, it was put on that night in concert. I won’t miss the Met’s staging. Unbelievably awful with crucified chorus boys swinging in the breeze.

    • Nick2 says:

      ENO also had a staging of Damnation at the Coliseum in the 1970s. This required a vast number of video projections. That was not a major issue at the performance I attended until the Ride to the Abyss. Someone had cued the projections too early with the result that the galloping horses on the video stopped a good 30 seconds too early. When Faust and Mephistopheles paused on their journey, the horses on the screens behind were once again in full gallop!

  • Karl says:

    Berlioz’s Damnation de Faust isn’t really an opera. It probably shouldn’t be staged as one.

  • Ms.Melody says:

    Just shows you: in the rein of Peter the Gelb nobody is safe

  • Yes Addison says:

    I’m not sure we can read tea leaves about Lepage from this. If they’d also added that they weren’t, after all, going to make his Quebec Zauberflöte their new production of that opera in 2020-21 (replacing the Taymor), then maybe, but that venture seems still to be full speed ahead.

    I dislike his work in opera, so if he had fallen out of favor at the Met, I’d approve, but I think this really was about the hassle and expense involved with the revival of the Berlioz.

  • Sharon says:

    The New York City Opera folded in part because they had a season of concert performances one of the infamous David Koch decided to make a $300 million donation to rennovate the theater (and rename it after himself) primarily to benefit the New York City ballet. People do not spend a lot of money or make a lot of donations to opera companies for concert performances. Hope this does not become a trend

    • DYB says:

      If I’m not mistaken the decision to do concert performances was Gerard Mortier’s. Initially NYCO was going to perform in various venues around NYC while the State Theater was renovated. But Mortier had grand ideas and zero interest in implementing them. I think he only visited NYC once or twice? So then Mortier decided it’d be a lot easier (for him) if NYCO did concerts or just took a hiatus. And that was the death of NYCO. Gerard Mortier virtually single-handedly killed it..

  • David says:

    I don’t get the LePage hate. I find his Ring to be engaging. I understand that the machinery is enormous, that’s how he imagined it. The movement of the planks, the projections, a great rendition of four difficult operas.

    • Ms.Melody says:

      LePage Ring is visually spectacular, but only in the theatre. It really does not show well on DVD or even in the movie theater on a big screen. I think the decision is probably mostly financial. It must cost a lot to put on such high tech shows. I never liked his Damnation of Faust, but then again, I like the old Otto Schenk’s Ring and Meistersingers.

  • Jeff Mace says:

    Oh POOP. I was looking for another year of fun and relaxation in Canada again. Remember The Ring $$$$$$$$$