A Surprise At The Met

Luciano Pavarotti AP

The most significant aspect of the Metropolitan Opera's 2002-03 schedule may be who's not on it: Luciano Pavarotti.

For the first time since the 1969-70 season, the Italian tenor is absent from the roster of singers scheduled to appear at the United States' biggest opera company.

Pavarotti, 66, is scheduled to sing twice in "Tosca" in the final week of the current season in May, and it is unclear if those performances will be his farewell to staged opera. His only other opera appearances this season were four performances of "Tosca" in January at The Royal Opera in London.

"He wants to see how the two 'Toscas' go in May before he decides on anything else," Pavarotti's spokesman, Herbert Breslin, said Monday. "If the two go well, he may decide he wants to do something."

Pavarotti's only other upcoming engagements are concerts.

As for what the Met will present, Bellini's "Il Pirata" and Bolcom's "A View from the Bridge" will receive their Met premieres next season, the company said Monday, and Berlioz's "Les Troyens" and Janacek's "Jenufa" will receive new productions.

The 32-week season - a week shorter than this year - opens Sept. 23 with a gala featuring Placido Domingo, singing his 20th opening night at the Met, three more than Enrico Caruso's previous record.

Domingo will be joined by Mirella Freni in the second act of Giordano's "Fedora"; by Olga Borodina in the second act of Saint-Saens' "Samson et Dalila"; and by Renee Fleming in the final act of Verdi's "Otello." James Levine, the Met's artistic director, will conduct.

"Il Pirata" opens Oct. 21 with Fleming, Marcello Giordani and Dwayne Croft conducted by Bruno Campanella in a John Copley production.

"A View from the Bridge" opens Dec. 5 in a Frank Galati production used for the opera's world premiere at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in October 1999. The opera, based on Arthur Miller's play, features Catherine Malfitano, Gregory Turay and Kim Josephson, who were in the Chicago cast. Dennis Russell Davies conducts.

"Jenufa," starring Karita Mattila and Deborah Polaski, and featuring the Met debuts of Kim Begley and Christopher Ventris, opens Jan. 13.

"Les Troyens" opens Feb. 10, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the year of Berlioz's birth, and stars Deborah Voigt, Ben Heppner, Borodina and Croft. The Francesca Zambello production has sets by Maria Bjornson, who is making her Met debut.

Valery Gergiev, the Met's principal guest conductor, will lead a revival of Verdi's "Otello" starting next March 10 with Vladimir Galouzine, Barbara Frittoli and Nikolai Putilin. It will be the first time Domingo does not appear in the first Met "Otello" of a season since Jon Vickers in September 1978.

Starting April 4, 2003, Gergiev will lead a revival of Wagner's "Parsifal" featuring Domingo, Violetta Urmana, Rene Pape, Falk Struckmmann and Putilin. It will mark the first time since William Steinberg conducted in April 1974 that Levine doesn't lead the opening "Parsifal."

Among other revivals are Mozart's "Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail" ("The Abduction from the Seraglio"), opening Jan. 20; Poulenc's "Dialogues des Carmelites," opening Dec. 13; Giordano's "Andrea Chenier," opening Sept. 30; Gounod's "Faust," opening March 3; and Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos," opening March 28.

Other singers scheduled for Met debuts include Christine Brewer in "Ariadne auf Naxos," Elena Kelessidi in Puccini's "La Boheme," Rainer Trost in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" and Marjana Lipovsek in Strauss' "Elektra."

Juan Diego Florez, a hit this season when he made his debut in Rossini's "Il Barbiere di Siviglia," returns as Don Ramiro in "La Cenerentola," also by Rossini.

The Mariinsky Theater's Kirov Opera, led by Gergiev, will present five operas at the Metropolitan Opera House from July 8-26, 2003, in a co-presentation with the Lincoln Center Festival: Verdi's "Macbeth," Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin," Mussorgsky's
"Khovanshchina," Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh" and Prokofiev's "Semyon Kotko," which will be given its North American premiere.


By Ronald Blum
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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