Press Room

Metropolitan Opera Guild news, December 2009

December’s Opera News dedicates most of its pages to Jacques Offenbach’s masterpiece, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, which is receiving a new production this month at the Met.  First is the cover story on tenor Joseph Calleja, who takes on his first career role debut at the Met this month in the vocally- and psychologically-demanding part of the title character.  Calleja, who just turned 31, has made headlines in the opera world since his debut a dozen years ago.  In a review of his 2006 Met debut as the Duke in Rigoletto, Opera News wrote: “From his first notes, it was clear that we were in the presence of a star tenor.  With its idiosyncratic fast vibrato, Calleja’s is a distinctive voice, but also quite beautiful.  It has uncommon carrying power, almost as if Calleja had a megaphone in his throat. … In his ability to send a lyric sound ringing throughout the house, though, as well as in his crystalline diction, Calleja was reminiscent of the young Luciano Pavarotti.”  Features Editor Brian Kellow has a “high-speed conversation” with Calleja, while, in “Bartlett’s Quotations”, Barry Singer reports “Hoffmann” director Bartlett Sher’s observations on his second production at the Met, after his hugely successful 2006 Barbiere di Siviglia.  In “Sound Bites”, Editor-in-Chief F. Paul Driscoll introduces young soprano Kathleen Kim – the “living doll” portraying the mechanical doll Olympia, whose charms entrance Hoffmann, in the Met’s new production.  Writer Patrick Dillon examines the composer’s seldom-fulfilled intention to have a single soprano portray all four of Hoffmann’s loves: Olympia, Antonia, Giulietta, and Stella.  Finally, a Hoffmann-related “Coda” column by Marjorie Sandor details “Sleepless Nights with E.T.A. Hoffmann”, the author whose life and works inspired Jacques Offenbach’s only grand opera.

Other Opera News articles include Scott Rose’s attempt to unlock the secrets of Richard Strauss’s most problematic heroine, Elektra; and a profile by Richard Christiansen of Chicago-based director Gary Griffin, who makes his operatic debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago this month with The Merry Widow.  Subscribers to Opera News and Met patrons have exclusive access to internet-only features at, which this month include a Contes d’Hoffmann audio sampler of key excerpts from the finest recordings of past and present, and a conversation with Bernard Labadie, music director of Les Violons du Roy, who discusses pacing the peaks and valleys of Handel’s Messiah, which he leads this month at Carnegie Hall.

The Metropolitan Opera Guild’s popular and growing series of public lectures – nearly doubled this season because of the Guild’s superb new Opera Learning Center – is slightly abbreviated in December because of the busy holiday season.  But there are no fewer than six December lectures in the fascinating “Masterly Singing” series, which is aimed at young performers, showcasing opera’s most valuable assets (the directors, coaches, conductors, and singers of our stage), and there is a pre-performance lecture for the opening night of the Met’s new Contes d’Hoffmann.  A chronological list of Guild events follows, a complete version of which is available for download on the Guild’s website at


Fifth Annual Opera News Awards

Finally, the Fifth Annual Opera News Awards will take place at Manhattan’s stately Gotham Hall (1356 Broadway @ West 36th Street, New York City) on Thursday, November 19 (reception begins at 6 pm; dinner and presentations begin at 7 pm).  Tickets to this gala of galas are still available from the Metropolitan Opera Guild.  Attendees include the awardees – Martina Arroyo, Joyce DiDonato, Gerald Finley, Philip Glass, and Shirley Verrett – and the equally starry personalities handing over the awards: Deborah Voigt (Arroyo), Stephanie Blythe (DiDonato), Alan Gilbert (Finley), Paul Simon (Glass), and Audra McDonald (Verrett).  Susan Graham and Thomas Hampson return as co-hosts.  For tickets and additional information, visit:



Metropolitan Opera Guild events for December 2009:

All lectures presented by the Guild, unless otherwise indicated, will be held in the Metropolitan Opera Guild Opera Learning Center on the 6th floor of the Samuel B. & David Rose building at Lincoln Center.


Tuesday, December 1 & Thursday, December 3 at 7pm – 9pm

“Masterly Singing II” (Master Class Package)

Price: $36.00 for two events 


Tuesday, December 1

A Chorus Life: Panel Discussion

La Bohème one night, Tosca the next, and Aida next week – how does a chorus member learn the scores and the staging for an entire season of opera?  The mysterious, adventurous, and humorous life of the chorister is unveiled in this panel discussion.

Price: $20


Thursday, December 3

Pardon My French: A Workshop and Master Class with Dr. Susan Stout

It’s not just what you say, but how you say it!  Master French coach Dr. Susan Stout explores good and bad French diction in singing, as well as common pitfalls in the French opera repertoire.

Price: $20


Sunday, December 6 at 4pm – 6pm

“Masterly Singing”

Spinning Strauss: A Master Class with Jane Marsh

A giant of German opera, Richard Strauss created characters rich in psychological intrigue and vocal exhilaration.  Famed soprano Jane Marsh guides emerging artists in the stylistic approach, dramatic interpretation, and vocal color that are ideally suited to this master composer.

Price: $20


Monday, December 7 at 6pm – 7:15pm

“Opera Outlooks: New Productions at the Met”

Hoffmann’s Tales: Lecture

presented by Desirée Mays

E.T.A. Hoffmann, the author of such fantastic stories as “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” (the basis for Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet), and the tales that inspired Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, was also a lawyer and even a composer.  Desirée Mays shows us the Hoffmann behind The Tales of Hoffmann.

Price: $16


Tuesday, December 8; Wednesday, December 9; and Thursday, December 10 at 7pm – 9pm

“Masterly Singing III” (Master Class Package)

These workshops and master classes probe areas of performance and preparation vital to the development of young performers, while showcasing opera’s most valuable assets – the directors, coaches, conductors, and singers of our stage.

Price: $54.00 for three events


Tuesday, December 8 at 7pm – 9pm

Coaching in the Big Leagues: A Master Class with Lucy Arner

Behind every big league MVP, whether on the field or in the opera house, is a whole roster of often-overlooked, specialized coaches whose mission it is to bring out the best possible performance.  Lucy Arner gives insight into just what a vocal coach does, and how singers and teachers can make the best use of the process, in this unique coaching master class.

Price: $20


Wednesday, December 9 at 7pm – 9pm

Meet the Press: presented by F. Paul Driscoll

It’s about more than just singing: a successful opera career also requires articulate self-presentation from the moment you walk into the room for an audition.  Opera News Editor-in-Chief F. Paul Driscoll sheds light on the fine art of walking the walk, and talking the talk, to make it in the majors.


Thursday, December 10 at 7pm – 9pm

Nice Work If You Can Get It!: Mock Audition & Panel Discussion

What are the people on the other side of the stage looking for in your audition?  You don’t want to miss this mock audition, including instant feedback on audition performances and a panel discussion with some of the best in the biz!

Price: $20


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© 21C Media Group, November 2009

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