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Metropolitan Opera Guild News for February 2009

Metropolitan Opera Guild News for February 2009

In February’s Opera News Cover Story, Tenor Marcelo Álvarez Talks About Preparing for his First Manrico at the Met in Verdi’s Il Trovatore

The Metropolitan Opera Guild Events Calendar for February is Full of Compelling New Lectures Including Fresh Look at Puccini’s La Rondine

February’s Opera News profiles several singers, with a major focus on cover-subject Marcelo Álvarez, who is performing his first Met Manrico in Verdi’s Trovatore this month. The Argentine tenor talks with Barry Singer about what it takes to get to the summit while maintaining an enviable degree of artistry. Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, playing Manrico’s love, Leonora, in these performances, has few peers among today’s exponents of the great Verdi roles. Opera News Online Editor, Adam Wasserman, interviews her in “Chanson triste” about her upcoming performances in Il Trovatore, and how she achieves the touch of melancholy that informs all her performances.

Conrad L. Osborne examines the diverse singers who have put their stamp on the rare roles for the dramatic mezzo in verismo repertoire, spotlighting two operas in this season’s repertory – La Gioconda and Adriana Lecouvreur. Osborne’s historical look at the “verismo mezzo” explores the specific artistry required, and touches on such great singers of the past as Fedora Barbieri, Ebe Stignani, Bruna Castagna, Cloe Elmo, and Giulietta Simionato.

Readers will enjoy a full report and many photographs from the fourth annual Opera News Awards, held in November and featuring an especially ebullient pair of hosts in Susan Graham and Thomas Hampson, as well as a starry array of awardees and presenters.

Other features include a conversation between Scott Rose and conductor Marco Armiliato, heading up this month’s Trovatore and Adriana Lecouvreur; Timothy Mangan’s “Painting with Music” about the surreal art of Achim Freyer, who designed Los Angeles Opera’s new “Ring” cycle; and “Sound Bites” with up-and-coming character tenor Jeffrey Halili. Recording reviews in February cover a range of singers, and include a new compilation of gems by tenor Jussi Björling as well as fresh entries from Joyce DiDonato, Diana Damrau, and Erwin Schrott. Other articles include a charming coda by journalist Joe Queenan, who writes about “The Performance I Can’t Forget”, and the regular offerings of North American and international performance reviews, as well as listings from opera companies all over the map.

Visitors to the magazine’s website,, can find a survey of matchless recorded excerpts from Verdi’s Il Trovatore, and a chat with soprano Sondra Radvanovsky about the process of developing the role of Leonora for the Met’s David McVicar-directed production of the opera. As always, the site contains hidden gems exclusive to Opera News subscribers and Metropolitan Opera Guild members.

February sees three new productions featured in the Guild’s lecture series: Il Trovatore will be spotlighted by an interview with singers Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick, and Marcelo Álvarez on February 9 and a pre-curtain lecture on the 24th; a new look at Puccini’s La Rondine will be featured in a February 10 lecture; and La Sonnambula takes center stage through an interview with stars Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez on February 23.

Two spring courses also begin in February. Fred Plotkin leads a three-part series on opera and politics beginning February 26, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Martin Bernheimer begins a four-week series on music criticism on February 28.

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Chronological list of Metropolitan Opera Guild Events in February:

Sunday, February 1, 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm
Opera Explorers: Lights! Camera! Opera!
Dicapo Opera Theatre, 184 East 76th Street
Each of these three one-hour shows combines highlights from Met telecasts projected on a big screen with a live host – young Met soprano Jennifer Aylmer – who is onstage to lead children (ages 6-12) and their families through a sequence of interactive video segments, each designed to introduce a different aspect of opera, such as characters, story, words, and music. Scenes from the Met’s spectacular productions of The Magic Flute, Hansel and Gretel, The Daughter of the Regiment, Gianni Schicchi, and other operas are used as examples.
Tickets are $25 for Guild Members, Guild Schools, and Met Patrons, and $35 for the general public. Please call (212) 769-7009 for more information and reservations.

Monday, February 2, 6 pm – 7:15 pm
“Mother Russia”: Tchaikovsky’s Heroines as Cultual Role Models
presented by Dr. Harlow Robinson
Eugene Onegin’s Tatiana is one of the most beloved heroines of Russian opera. Dr. Harlow Robinson explores the musical and dramatic reasons for her enduring popularity, and the special place she and Tchaikovsky’s other women occupy in the Russian national psyche.
This event – as well as all others not 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.
Price: $16.00

Monday, February 9, 6 pm – 7 pm
Il Trovatore: The Singers’ Opera
Metropolitan Opera House
featuring Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick, and Marcelo Álvarez; moderated by Margaret Juntwait
Enrico Caruso once said that successfully staging Verdi’s Il Trovatore was quite simple: “All you need are the four best singers in the world!” Members of the Met’s all-star cast share their thoughts on preparing for one of Verdi’s most taxing and rewarding operas.
Discounted tickets are avilable for advance sale to Subscribers and Guild Members. Please call (212) 769-7028. Met Patrons may call the Patron Office on (212) 870-4502 to reserve two complimentary tickets in advance, or get them at the door.

Tuesday, February 10, 6 pm – 7:15 pm
Rediscovering La Rondine
presented by Joseph Colaneri
Originally conceived as an operetta, Puccini’s La Rondine has not been seen at the Met in over 70 years. Joseph Colaneri reacquaints us with the ravishing beauty of this delicate and poignant score.
Price: $16.00

Thursday, February 12, 6 pm – 7:15 pm
Verdi Arias: Vivacity of Performance
presented by Joan Dornemann
Legendary vocal coach Joan Dornemann works with young professionals to fine-tune their approach to performance of Verdi’s greatest arias.
Sold Out

Monday, February 16, 10:30 am – 12 pm
La Cenerentola Family Workshop
Opera Explorers are children aged 5-8 who discover the world of opera with their families and friends. Combining hands-on experiential learning with physical and vocal activity, workshop participants learn to follow a complex operatic plot, and understand the power of music, acting, and design to tell a story.
For more information, call (212) 769-7028.
Price: $16.00 ($20 at the door, subject to availability)

Tuesday, February 17, 6 pm – 7:15 pm
Adriana Lecouvreur: Realism and Rival Love
presented by Bridget Paolucci
Like Floria Tosca, Adriana Lecouvreur is a creature of the stage – in this case, a real actress whose life was as dramatic as any part she played. Bridget Paolucci shows that Cilea’s verismo masterpiece is far more than a vehicle for a star soprano.
Price: $16.00

Monday, February 23, 6 pm – 7 pm
Moonlight Becomes You: Dessay, Flórez, and Sonnambula
Metropolitan Opera House
featuring Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez; moderated by Elena Park
The remarkable chemistry between Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez lights up opera houses around the globe. Join them as they discuss their roles in Bellini’s bel canto masterpiece – a work that can only be performed when two exceptional singers are available to play the leads.
Discounted tickets are available for advance sale to Subscribers and Guild Members.
Met Patrons may call the Patron Office on (212) 870-4502 to reserve two complimentary tickets in advance, or get them at the door.

Tuesday, February 24, 6 pm – 7:15 pm
The Greatest Singers in the World: Il Trovatore’s Recorded Past
presented by John J. H. Muller
Although it has been ridiculed for its libretto, Verdi’s Il Trovatore remains the quintessential singers’ opera. John J. H. Muller samples some of the most renowned interpreters of this work in the history of recorded sound.
Price: $16.00

Thursday, February 26, 2 pm – 3:15 pm
Politics through the Opera Glass: Three Centuries of Composers, Conflicts, and Censorship presented by Fred Plotkin
Two additional Thursdays: March 5 and 12, 2 pm – 3:15 pm

Rulers of every stripe have occupied the opera stage, from the earliest days of Monteverdi to the present; composers have dramatized in shrewd and provocative ways the nature of power. As a new administration settles into the White House, Fred Plotkin explains how opera continues to maintain a hold on our political imaginations.

Thursday, February 26: Enlightened Revolution: Opera and the 18th Century (Part 1 of 3)
Topics introduced in Verdi’s masterpiece Don Carlo – the most overtly political of his operas – will form the cornerstone of conversation throughout these three weeks. After examining this opera in detail, Plotkin will explore issues and ideals of the 18th century, through works ranging from Le Nozze di Figaro to Candide.
Thursday, March 5: Romantic Revolution: Opera and the 19th Century (Part 2 of 3)
Thursday, March 12: Radical Revolution: Opera and the 20th Century (Part 3 of 3)
Save by buying all three weeks of “Politics through the Opera Glass”. To purchase individual sessions, go to
Price: $40.00

Saturday, February 28, 11 am – 12:15 pm
Everyone’s a Critic: Lessons in Listening for the Armchair Enthusiast
presented by Martin Bernheimer
Four Saturdays: February 28 – March 21
Ever wonder what makes some voices ring true, and others fall flat? Or why some singers sound so right in certain roles, and so wrong in others? Join Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Martin Bernheimer as he surveys opera’s legendary singers and learn how to critique like the critics do. Audience participation is highly encouraged!
Saturday, February 28: Splendid Sopranos (Part 1 of 4)
Sold Out

– January 12, 2009

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