Verdi’s ‘Aida’ opens Met Opera Live season

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The Metropolitan Opera’s 2018-19 Live in HD series begins Saturday, Oct. 6, with “Aida” by Giuseppe Verdi.

This season’s lineup offers something for everyone: an array of well-known and lesser-known operas, various styles, settings, time periods and different opera stars than last season.

The 2018-19 season at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center includes 10 operas from October to May, all broadcast on Saturday mornings. All but one are shown live (i.e., at the same time as in select movie theaters nationwide; see schedule below). The lineup includes four love-triangle tragedies, two “happily ever after” love stories, and four melodramas. Two are completely new Met productions. Four of the 10 are French operas. And as usual, a modern “strange one” appears in November. All operas will have English subtitles, even the one sung in English.

“Aida,” set in ancient Egypt, is Verdi’s most popular opera and is what reviewers call “the grandest of grand operas.” If you are thrilled by gigantic sets, enormous casts, lots of spectacle and yet love an intimate love story, don’t miss “Aida.” This opera is packed with magnificent choruses, complex ensembles, elaborate ballets, and memorable arias. Some productions even feature elephants onstage. Anna Netrebko is singing the slave girl Aida for the first time at the Met—something not to miss. (Sung in Italian; total run time 3 hours 36 minutes, including two intermissions)

Who is the HD leading lady of choice this coming season? Last season, Sonya Yoncheva was “the diva,” but she will not appear in any HD broadcast in 2018-19. Instead, we will hear the legendary Russian soprano Anna Netrebko sing two new roles at the Met: Aida and Adriana Lecouvreur. Soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek and mezzos Isabel Leonard and Anita Rachvelishvili will each star in two operas, as well. Other leading ladies this coming season will be Diana Damrau, Pretty Yende, Elina Garanca, Christine Goerke, and a new name (to me) singing Carmen: Clementine Margaine.

And what about those tenors? This season, only French tenor Roberto Alagna will star in more than one HD broadcast (as Samson in Samson et Dalila and as Don Jose in Carmen). Other leading tenors will be Piotr Beczala, Javier Camarena, and Juan Diego Florez. A welcome surprise is the casting of tenor Jonas Kaufmann as Dick Johnson in Puccini’s wild-West opera “La Fanciulla del West” (“The Girl of the Golden West”)—let’s hope he doesn’t cancel! And baritone Christopher Maltman will return to the HD screen this season in Marnie (he was memorable as Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte last season).

Tickets at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center remain at $20 adults/$5 students/$10 college students, cash or check, purchased at the door. A season ticket bundle (a single ticket for each of the 10 broadcasts) will be available for $180 (10 operas for the price of 9). Call Carol Atkinson at 406-862-7591 in advance or buy a season ticket bundle at the door. Remember that at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center, we offer classy refreshments ($1 each item) and a wonderful lobby in which to enjoy the intermissions and fellow opera-goers.

Mark your calendars for these HD broadcasts at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center (most, but not all, begin at 10:55 am):

Oct. 6: “Aida” by Giuseppe Verdi (10:55 a.m.)

Oct. 27: “La Fanciulla del West” (“The Girl of the Golden West”) by Giacomo Puccini (10:55 a.m.)

Nov. 10: “Marnie” by Nico Muhly and Nicolas Wright (10:55 a.m.)

Nov. 17: “Samson et Dalila” by Camille Saint-Saens (10:55 am)—NOTE: this is shown live in select movie theaters on Oct. 20, but will be shown pre-recorded in Whitefish on Nov 17.

Dec. 15: “La Traviata” by Giuseppe Verdi *NEW PRODUCTION* (10:55 a.m.)

Jan. 12: “Adriana Lecouvreur” by Francesco Cilea *NEW PRODUCTION* (10:55 a.m.)

Feb. 2: “Carmen” by Georges Bizet (10:55 a.m.)

March 2: “La Fille du Regiment” by Gaetano Donizetti (10:55 a.m.)

March 30: “Die Walkure” by Richard Wagner (10 a.m.)

May 11: “Dialogues des Carmelites” by Francis Poulenc (10 a.m.)

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