Press Room

Metropolitan Opera Guild February 2011 News

The February 2011 issue of Opera News features a cover story on iconic director Peter Sellars, whose production of Nixon in China introduces John Adams’s classic contemporary American opera to the Met stage on February 2-19. The production also marks Sellars’s Met debut, and for the occasion William R. Braun sat down with the director to talk about the ways in which art, life and politics intersect.
The prize-winning Opera News – published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, which celebrated its diamond anniversary last year – was founded in 1936 and is now the world’s largest circulation magazine devoted to opera. Along with the cover story on Sellars and Nixon in China, the February issue includes Ray Sawhill’s look at Richard Nixon’s rollercoaster career and its impact on American politics for generations to come.
The Metropolitan Opera Guild presents several public lectures and seminars in February that tie into Nixon in China’s Met debut. In “How Much of What We Did Was Good?” on February 2, Fred Plotkin will discuss the opera and the political implications of Nixon’s visit to China. On February 6, Dr. W. Anthony Sheppard will look at the aspects of postmodernism in Adams’s work in “My Fellow Americans”: Political Personas and Postmodern Sensibility in Nixon in China. Both events will be held at the Metropolitan Opera Guild Opera Learning Center in Lincoln Center’s Rose Building. See below for a complete list of the Guild’s public programs in February.
Also found in the February issue of Opera News is a profile of tenor Paul Groves, who is interviewed by Scott Rose. Having moved beyond his Mozart-inflected origins to the congenial territory of haute-contre roles in Gluck’s reform operas, Groves returns as Pylade in the Met’s Iphigénie en Tauride on February 12-March 5. Philip Kennicott muses on Hindemith’s neglected masterpiece, Cardillac, a dark allegory of the artist in society that is being revived by Adventurous Opera Boston. And Patrick Dillon explores Massenet’s fascination with his leading ladies, pondering the paradox that one of the composer’s most powerful central characters – the title role in Don Quichotte, on view at Seattle Opera this month – was written for a man.
February’s U.S. performance reviews include the Met’s handsome new Don Carlo and the triumph of Karita Mattila in San Francisco Opera’s Makropulos Case. The international productions reviewed range from a new Adriana Lecouvreur at London’s Royal Opera and the U.K. premiere of Alexander Raskatov’s A Dog’s Heart at English National Opera to Hindemith’s Mathis der Mahler at the Paris Opera and David McVicar’s fresh take on Handel’s Orlando at the Champs-Elysées.
The Metropolitan Opera Guild
For 75 years, the Metropolitan Opera Guild has provided substantial support to the Met, as well as greatly enhanced the public’s appreciation for opera overall. Since its founding by the pioneering philanthropist Eleanor Robson Belmont in 1935, the Guild has contributed more than $245 million to the Met. The organization has one of the country’s most innovative and far-reaching music education programs, which benefits more than 1,800 schools and communities. In August 2010, the Guild received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s “Arts-in-Education” Model Development and Dissemination Program for its Comprehensive Opera-Based Arts Learning and Teaching (COBALT) project.  
The Guild produces an annual series of major public programs, including the Opera News Awards, Met Legends and Met Mastersingers series. The sixth annual Opera News Awards will take place in New York City on April 17, 2011 at the Plaza Hotel, celebrating the achievements of five extraordinary artists who have made an invaluable contribution to the art form: tenor Jonas Kaufmann, conductor Riccardo Muti, soprano Patricia Racette, soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, and bass-baritone Bryn Terfel. Additional information about the history of the Metropolitan Opera Guild can be found at  
Metropolitan Opera Guild lectures and public events in February
Tuesday, February 1 at 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Met Talks: Nixon in China
Presented by Peter Gelb
Composer John Adams’s groundbreaking opera explores President Nixon’s historic 1972 encounter with Mao in this production by Peter Sellars. In advance of the work’s Met premiere, Peter Gelb leads a conversation with members of the cast and crew, including John Adams and Peter Sellars, about bringing world politics to the opera stage.
Price: $20
Wednesday, February 2 at 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm
“How Much of What We Did Was Good?”: Nixon in China‘s Met Premiere
Presented by Fred Plotkin
“The week that changed the world” is how President Richard Nixon described his 
1972 visit to China. His unexpected diplomatic overture inspired John Adams’s 
Nixon in China, which receives its Met premiere this month. But the Shanghai 
Communiqué was little more than a face-saving formula for the world powers – as 
the character Chou En-lai questions at the opera’s conclusion, “How much of what 
we did was good?” Fred Plotkin offers a close examination of the opera and looks for answers.
Price: $16
Saturday, February 5 at 11:00 am – 12:15 pm
Opera Revolution: 1800-Today*
Presented by Dottie Allen
*Part of the Opera Boot Camp: Basic Training course
Who were Wagner, Verdi and Puccini, and how did their revolutionary ideas propel opera into superstardom? Learn how opera has continually transformed itself since the 19th century, and what it’s doing to stay vital and relevant today.
Price: $16; $20 at door
Sunday, February 6 at 4:00 pm – 5:15 pm
“My Fellow Americans”: Political Personas and Postmodern Sensibility in Nixon in China
Presented by Dr. W. Anthony Sheppard
Recent revivals of John Adams’s Nixon in China have been highly acclaimed, and 
the work is inarguably influential, yet it took more than 20 years for his opera 
to be held in such esteem. Dr. W. Anthony Sheppard explores the different personas and aspects of postmodernism to be seen and heard in this seminal work.
Price: $16
Mondays: February 7, 14, 21, 28 at 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm
Modern Times: American Operas of Adams and Glass
Moderated by Jesse Cohen, with special guests
John Adams and Philip Glass have each created modern classics using contemporary characters. These composers paint musical portraits of their politically charged subjects, enlightening audiences as they build personal relationships with their characters and with their iconic music. In these four advanced seminars, distinguished guest scholars share insight on the musical and modern historical figures at play in these contemporary classics.
Price for the series: $72; price for individual weeks: $20

Week One, Feb. 7: Einstein on the Beach
With special guests David Herskovits and Adam Wasserman
The first of Philip Glass’s “portrait operas,” Einstein on the Beach provides a Zen-like musical meditation through its repetitive rhythmic and melodic patterns. In the opera’s first production, director Robert Wilson’s avant-garde approach gave audiences ample opportunity to contemplate the characters and caricatures being portrayed onstage.

Week Two, Feb. 14: Nixon in China
With special guests Gideon Rose and Heidi Waleson
John Adams describes his Nixon in China as “part epic, part satire, part parody of political posturing and part serious examination of historical, philosophical and even gender issues.” This seminal work, now coming to the Met for the first time, inventively molds Richard Nixon’s landmark 1972 trip into the stuff of operatic grandeur.

Week Three, Feb. 21: Satyagraha
With special guests Heidi Waleson and Mark Kurlansky
The powerful source materials for Philip Glass’s work – the Bhagavad Gita and the life and writings of Mahatma Gandhi – show the political force that can be formed through nonviolent protest.

Week Four, Feb. 28: Doctor Atomic
With special guests Jeremy Bernstein and Ara Guzelimian
Led by J. Robert Oppenheimer, the experiments at Los Alamos and the test of “Trinity” began as a scientific quest and quickly mutated into a morally troubled journey. Explore the social, political and scientific issues at stake during the dawn of the nuclear era, as translated for the lyric stage in John Adams’s Doctor Atomic.

Saturday, February 12 at 11:00 am – 12:15 pm
The Opera, Seen from Behind the Scenes
Presented by Dottie Allen
*Part of the Opera Boot Camp: Basic Training course
Not everyone involved in staging an opera gets to take a curtain call — more than 1,500 individuals are responsible for every opera performance at the Met. We’ll talk shop and get to know the many off-stage roles that give direction and bring a production from page to stage.
Price: $16; $20 at door
Wednesday, February 16 at 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm
Better Than Melody: Greek Tragedy and Gluck’s Reforms in Iphigénie en Tauride
Presented by John J. H. Muller
In the late 18th century, Christoph Willibald Gluck made a compelling musical argument for simplicity of text-setting so that emotional expression could take precedence over vocal pyrotechnics. Following the premiere of his Iphigénie en Tauride, the culmination of his operatic reforms, one audience member remarked, “I don’t know whether what we heard is melody. Perhaps it’s something even better.” John J. H. Muller takes us back to discover Gluck’s reforms and revitalization of opera.
Price: $16
Sundays: February 20, 27, March 6  at 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Opera News Film
Hosted by Brian Kellow
Brian Kellow – feature editor of Opera News and author of three biographies, including the acclaimed Ethel Merman: A Life – hosts this new film series, which this season focuses on diva biopics and discussions. Kellow is currently at work on a biography of the great film critic Pauline Kael, and he will provide extensive background notes on each film as an online exclusive at Price for individual weeks: $20

Week One, Feb. 20: Melba (Horizon, 1953)
Patrice Munsel stars as Australian diva Nellie Melba, the reigning star of Covent Garden who went on to sing with the Met 238 times between 1893 and 1910. Melba is a true rarity, featuring a stellar cast of such British character actors as Robert Morley (Oscar Hammerstein), Sybil Thorndike (Queen Victoria) and Martita Hunt (in a scene-stealing performance as Mathilde Marchesi). Munsel made her Met debut in 1943 at age 18 – the youngest person in the company’s history to play a principal role – and remained with the company until 1958. Ms. Munsel joins Brian Kellow for a post-film discussion centering on the complicated production history of Melba. This event is currently sold out.
Week Two, Feb. 27: So This is Love (Warner Bros., 1953)
Grace Moore, the “Tennessee Nightingale,” brought opera to a broader audience through her own film work (she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar in 1934), as well as her 108 Met performances between 1928 and 1946. In 1953, Kathryn Grayson –  who had recently completed a long stint trilling her way through some of MGM’s biggest musicals – starred in So This is Love, the Warner Brothers’ biopic depicting Moore’s long struggle to reach stardom at the Met. Grayson sings everything from “Mi chiamano Mimì” to “I Wish I Could Shimmy like My Sister Kate.” Co-starring are Merv Griffin (in his pre-talk show days), and Mabel Albertson as Mary Garden.
Week Three, March 6: Interrupted Melody (MGM, 1955)
This classic musical drama stars Eleanor Parker in her Oscar-nominated performance as Marjorie Lawrence, the brilliant Wagnerian soprano whose performing career was cut short by polio. Parker’s vocals are dubbed by Eileen Farrell, in magnificent form singing “Un bel dì,” “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix,” “O don fatale,” and many other arias – not all of them associated with Lawrence, but who cares? Eileen Farrell was one of the most versatile artists of her time, appearing with great success on the radio, the concert circuit, television, and at the Met (1960–65). Brian Kellow, co-author of Ms. Farrell’s memoir Can’t Help Singing, hosts a post-screening discussion of the soprano’s career, including the filming of Interrupted Melody.
Tuesday, February 22 at 6 pm – 7:15 pm
Opera News Interview: Susan Graham
The great Texas-bred mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, who returns to the title role of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride this season, discusses her career with Adam Wasserman, online editor of Opera News. The event is currently sold out.
Please call or e-mail for reservations: Tel: 212-769-7028  E-mail: [email protected]
Wednesday, February 23 at 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm
A Study in Contrasts: Chiaroscuro Coloratura of Armida
Presented by Dr. Jeffrey Langford
Armida is a sultry sorceress, resolute in her romantic overtures toward the Christian warrior Rinaldo. In depicting their epic tale, Rossini created a musical tapestry that contrasts light and dark, good and evil, passion and revenge. Dr. Jeffrey Langford delineates the musical details as he explores Armida.
Price: $16
Sunday, February 27 at 7:30 pm 
Met Legends: Renata Scotto
The Kaye Playhouse (68th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues)
The brilliant soprano Renata Scotto will be onstage to share rare video clips from her performing career, as well as a new biographical video produced for this event. Between videos, she will discuss her life and career with the Met Guild’s Paul Gruber. A number of the legendary soprano’s fellow performers will join in honoring this remarkable artist.
Price: $50; Guild members: $45
Priority tickets (includes priority seating for the program and admission to the post-program artists reception): $150
For tickets, call 212-769-7009
Most weekdays at 3:30pm and most Sundays at 10:30am and 1:30pm
Backstage Tours
Go behind the scenes for an exclusive look at what it takes to make onstage magic at the Met! Tours begin and end in the Met lobby during the Met performance season. Backstage Tours offer a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the Met, and they visit the expansive scenic and carpentry shops, where sets are built and painted; the costume, wardrobe, make-up and wig departments that prep and primp today’s star singers for the stage; rehearsal rooms where productions first take shape; the massive stage complex where the action comes to life; and the crown jewel auditorium.
Price: $16; $20 at door; Guild members: $14; Students: $10
Events will be held in the Metropolitan Opera Guild Opera Learning Center located on the 6th floor of Lincoln Center’s Samuel B. and David Rose Building, unless otherwise noted.


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