Press Room

Metropolitan Opera Guild News: January 2009

The January2009 cover subject of Opera
is the late Austrian soprano Leonie
, who made her Met debut in Verdi’s Macbeth on February 5,
1959.  On that day, she faced
catcalls from ill-mannered Maria Callas
fans who were disgruntled that their favorite had been replaced as bloodthirsty
Lady Macbeth in the opera’s Met premiere! 
Rysanek sang two other big Verdi roles at the house in the next few
weeks – in Aida and Don Carlo
– and a total of 15 performances by the end of the season.  By the end of her career (including her
first Czech and Russian roles), she’d done nearly 300.  For the 50th anniversary of
her arrival at the Met, Ira Siff – remembering the beloved diva’s incandescence
and the mutual love affair between the soprano and her New York public –
recalls some of the two-dozen roles she performed at the Met over a nearly
unparalleled four decades. 
Exclusively for online readers, Siff also offers an audio survey of
Rysanek’s singular recordings at

 Other outstanding divas appear in January’s Opera News.  Scott Barnes has a happy “Reunion” with Oklahoma-born Leona
, a luminous-voiced Verdi specialist and mistress of roles by
Bizet, Poulenc, Puccini, and others over a Met career of nearly 20 years.  Adam Wasserman’s “Sound Bites” is a conversation with young Angela Meade, a winner of the 2007 National Council Auditions who
made a widely-praised last-minute house debut in a broadcast Ernani last spring.  And critic Howard Kissel pays tribute
to the remarkable Patricia Brooks,
whobegan her performing life as a
dancer and switched to opera after a knee injury.  She died at only 59, her career and life cut short by multiple
sclerosis.  Her New York Times obituary cited key
reviews: as Gilda in a New York City Opera Rigoletto
in 1963, “Miss Brooks was attractive to both eye and ear, a musicianly
artist and an intelligent actress.” 
And opposite the young Plácido Domingo in La Traviata in 1966, she
was praised for “acting with a delicacy of detail rare in opera.”  A live recital recording, recently
released by the soprano’s son and her widower Theodore Mann – director and
co-founder of Circle in the Square – has been warmly welcomed in the press, and
has brought her name back to the lips of many admirers who loved her classic
and graceful performances in New York and elsewhere.

 Much has been said and written of the troubles in the
international recording business, despite a continuing stream of new recordings
– especially from smaller record companies.  William V. Madison recalls the glory days of the classical
recording industry, when rising divas and “divos” were introduced with lavishly
produced solo albums.  A few lucky
singers – like Nicole Cabell and Anna Netrebko, whose new album, Souvenirs, is an “Editor’s Choice” this month – are still promoted this way, but many
of today’s younger singers, such as Ana
María Martínez
, are turning to new methods of getting their (reproduced)
voices heard, often going straight to the internet.  Another half-dozen new CD and DVD releases are reviewed this
month – including Susan Graham’s new Frisson
, an all-French recital with Malcolm Martineau, and a disc
documenting the collaboration between the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and
Craig Smith.  Casting an ear over
the year just ended, the Editors of Opera
offer their favorites of the CDs and DVDs reviewed in 2008, in “The Best of the Year.”

 At the end of the month, the
Guild will present a new program for families at New York’s Dicapo Opera
Theater.  “Opera Explorers: Lights! Camera! Opera!” is a 60-minute,
interactive presentation that combines highlights from Met telecasts projected
on a big screen with a live host, who is onstage to lead the audience through
an exploration of opera.  This
program is aimed at children between six and twelve – and their parents – who
will love seeing wizards, witches, dragons, and clowns, while exploring
exciting sights and sounds in this colorful introduction to the magic of
opera.  Scenes from the Met’s
spectacular productions of The Magic
, Hansel and Gretel, The Daughter of the Regiment, Gianni Schicchi,and other operas will be screened.  The Guild’s Executive Producer, Paul Gruber, who developed
the program to be shown several times on January 31 and February 1, comments:

 “With ‘Opera Explorers: Lights!
Camera! Opera!’ the Guild has created a brand new way for kids and their
families to explore opera together. 
From our other award-winning opera education programs, we’ve learned
that there are many ways to get young people excited about this art form.  And we also know how compelling it is
to see highlights from these great Met productions projected onto a big
screen.  By combining the videos
with live narration, we’ve come up with a very innovative, interactive
introduction to opera.”

Shows on January 31 and
February 1 are at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm, and tickets are $25.  Further details are available at (212)
769 7009 and

 The Metropolitan Opera Guild
is presenting two lectures in
January – on the Met’s revivals of Gluck’s Orfeoed Euridice and Donizetti’s Lucia
di Lammermoor
.  Details follow
in the chronological list of Guild events below.  Visit the following web sites for additional information
about the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s activities and publications:, and


Upcoming Metropolitan Opera Guild

lectures will be held in the Metropolitan Opera Guild Opera Learning Center on
the sixth floor of the Samuel B. & David Rose building at Lincoln Center,
on the north side of West 65th Street between Amsterdam and Broadway


January 20 at 6 pm – 7:15 pm

Looking Back with Gluck’s Orfeo

by Dr. W. Anthony Sheppard

created his immortal Orfeo on the
model of ancient Greek theater. 
Gluck reformed the art form’s bloated apparatus 150 years later by
returning to the same mythic tale of Orpheus and Eurydice.  Dr. W. Anthony Sheppard unpacks the
historical and musical underpinnings of one of Gluck’s most famous operas.  Price: $16.00


January 26 at 6 pm – 7:15 pm

Listening to Lucia’s Romantic

by Dr. W. Anthony Sheppard

The title
character – the heroine – of Donizetti’s Lucia
di Lammermoor
is subjected to psychological torture by her ruthless brother
and his financial and political scheming, and presents two seeming opposites –
beauty and madness – which intertwine and accelerate toward her virtuosic and
cataclysmic mad scene.  Dr. W.
Anthony Sheppard presents ways to listen for all the clues.  Price: $16.00


January 31 and Sunday, February 1

“Opera Explorers: Lights! Camera!

interactive presentation for the entire family featuring clips from
Metropolitan Opera telecasts, projected onto the big screen.  Kids aged six to twelve – and their
parents too – will love seeing wizards, witches, dragons, and clowns, while
exploring the sights and sounds of the world of opera.  Performances take place at Dicapo Opera
Theater, 184 East 76th Street, New York City. 

Price: $35;
Guild Members, Guild Schools, and Met Patrons: $25.

Tickets at
(212) 769 7009, or online at


February 2 at 6 pm – 7:15 pm

“Mother Russia”: Tchaikovsky’s
Heroines as Cultural Role Models

by Dr. Harlow Robinson

Eugene Onegin’s Tatiana Larina 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. 
Price: $16.00

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