Metropolitan Opera presents North American premiere of Nico Muhly’s Marnie October 19

Metropolitan Opera presents North American premiere of Nico Muhly’s Marnie October 19


  • Second Met commission for Muhly and Met debut for librettist and playwright Nicholas Wright


  • Isabel Leonard stars as the enigmatic title character, her first of three leading roles at the Met this season


  • Marnie will be transmitted live around the world on November 10 as a part of The Met: Live in HD series



New York, NY (October 3, 2018)—The Metropolitan Opera presents the North American premiere of Marnie, an original Met commission by composer Nico Muhly and librettist Nicholas Wright, on October 19, 2018, with performances continuing until  November 10. Based on Winston Graham’s haunting novel, which also inspired the classic Alfred Hitchcock film, Marnie is conducted by Robert Spano in his Met debut and directed by Michael Mayer, who created the staging for the opera’s world premiere at English National Opera in 2017.  The November 10matinee will be transmitted live to movie theaters throughout the world as part of the Met’s Live in HD series.

Marnie is the tale of a beautiful woman in late-1950s England running from a mysterious past, who assumes a series of new names, identities, and physical appearances at every turn. Marnie is finally caught in her deceit by the businessman Mark Rutland, but rather than turn her in, Mark blackmails Marnie into marrying him. As her world begins to shatter, Marnie’s life of lies is stripped bare, and she is forced to face the truth—and her future—without the deceptions on which she has relied for so long.

Moving quickly through cinematically structured and designed scenes, Muhly, Wright, and Mayer illuminate Marnie’s inner life using a variety of musical textures and literary techniques. One innovation of Muhly’s score is its use of a madrigal-like chorus of four women—Marnie’s Shadows—who follow Marnie throughout the opera, giving voice to her turbulent and confused inner thoughts and feelings as she runs from her past, from her crimes, and ultimately from herself.

The cast is led by mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard as Marnie. Baritone Christopher Maltman is her husband and rival Mark Rutland, and countertenor Iestyn Davies is Mark’s brother Terry Rutland. Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves is Marnie’s mother, and soprano Janis Kelly is her mother-in-law.

The creative team features set and projection designs by Julian Crouch and 59 Productions, who also created the indelible designs of the Met’s productions of Satyagraha, Doctor Atomic, and The Enchanted Island; costume design by the Oscar–nominated designer Arianne Philips, who in her Met debut has created 15 costumes for the title character alone; lighting design by Kevin Adams, who has previously designed Met productions of Rigoletto and L’Amour de Loin; and choreography by the Tony– and Oliver Award–nominated choreographer Lynne Page in her Met debut.


Marnie Worldwide Broadcasts in Cinema, Radio, and Online

The November 10 matinee performance of Marnie will be transmitted live around the world at 1:00 p.m. The transmission will be seen in more than 2,000 movie theaters in 73 countries around the world.

The October 19 and November 7 performances of Marnie will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM Channel 75, and the October 19 performance will also be streamed live on the Met’s web site,



Marnie Artist Biographies

American composer Nico Muhly is the youngest composer ever to be commissioned by the Met. His previous Met commission Two Boys, a collaboration with librettist Craig Lucas, was staged at the Met in 2013 following its world premiere at English National Opera in 2011. He has composed a wide scope of work for ensembles, soloists, and organizations, including the American Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, countertenor Iestyn Davies, soprano Jessica Rivera, violinist Hilary Hahn, choreographer Benjamin Millepied, designer/illustrator Maira Kalman, Carnegie Hall, New York City Ballet, and Paris Opera Ballet. He has also written for Broadway, film, and television, and has collaborated with popular artists such as Sufjan Stevens, Björk, and Grizzly Bear. He is a graduate of Columbia University and The Juilliard School.

British dramatist Nicholas Wright makes his Met debut writing the libretto for Marnie. Wright was born in Cape Town, South Africa. After moving to London, he worked with such companies such as the Royal Court Theatre, Theatre Upstairs, and the National Theatre. A renowned playwright, his work includes Vincent in Brixton, which won the Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2003, and a stage adaption of the trilogy by Phillip Pullman, His Dark Materials. His other librettos include The Little Prince with composer Rachel Portman, which premiered at Houston Grand Opera in 2013, and Man on the Moon with composer Jonathan Dove, which was commissioned by British broadcaster Channel 4 and premiered in 2006

American mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard sings the title role of Marnie, and later this season at the Met she sings Mélisande in Debussy’s Pélleas et Mélisande and Blanche de la Force in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, both conducted by the Met’s Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. She made her Met debut as Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette in 2007 followed by roles as Cherubino in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Miranda in Thomas Adès’s The Tempest, Blanche de la Force in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, and Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther. Later this season, she will also sing with the Met Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, led by Maestro Nézet-Séguin.

Scottish soprano Janis Kelly (Mrs. Rutland) made her Met debut as Pat Nixon in Adams’s Nixon in China in 2011. She has been seen recently as Mrs. Grose in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and Marcellina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro at English National Opera and as Berta in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Glyndebourne and Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Later this season, she will sing Polly Nichols in the world premiere of Iain Bell’s Jack the Ripper at English National Opera. 

American mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves returns to the Met for the first time in more than a decade to sing the role of Marnie’s Mother. She made her Met debut as the title role in Bizet’s Carmen in 1995 and since then has been seen as Baba the Turk in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, Dalila in Saint-Saën’s Samson et Dalila, Federica in Verdi’s Luisa Miller, and Maddalena in Verdi’s Rigoletto. Other recent performances include The Old Lady in Bernstein’s Candide at Washington National Opera and Palm Beach Opera, Mrs. De Rocher in Heggie’s Dead Man Walking at Minnesota Opera, Grace in Daniel Sonenberg’s The Summer King at Pittsburgh Opera, and Emelda Griffith in Terence Blanchard’s Champion at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Washington National Opera.

British countertenor Iestyn Davies (Terry Rutland) made his Met debut as Unulfo in Handel’s Rodelinda in 2011. Other roles with the company include Trinculo in Thomas Adès’s The Tempest and Oberon in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Last season he was seen in the North American premiere of Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel, which was seen around the world as a part of the Live in HD series. Following The Exterminating Angel, he made his Broadway debut in Farinelli and the King. Later this season he will be seen as Polinesso in Handel’s Ariodante at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Ottone in Handel’s Agrippina at Münchner Opernfestspiele.

British baritone Christopher Maltman (Mark Rutland) made his company debut as the Harlekin in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos in 2005 and has subsequently sung Silvio in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, Eisenstein in the new production of Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, Figaro in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Lescaut in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut,andPapageno in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Last season, he was seen as Don Alfonso in the Met’s new production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, which was seen around the world as a part of the Live in HD series. Later this season, he will be seen as Don Carlo di Vargas in Verdi’s La Forza del Destino at Royal Opera, Covent Garden and in the title role of Verdi’s Rigoletto at Wiener Staatsoper.

American conductor Robert Spano makes his Met debut conducting Marnie. He is the music director of the Aspen Music Festival and has been the music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for 17 seasons. He has conducted at opera houses around the world such as Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Welsh National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and Seattle Opera. Later this season, he will conduct with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and San Diego Symphony.

American director Michael Mayer made his Met debut in the 2012–2013 season with the neon-bedecked, Las Vegas-themed production of Rigoletto, which returns later this season. He has directed a diverse range of acclaimed productions on Broadway, on film, and on television. He is perhaps best known to theater audiences for directing two Tony Award-winning musicals, Spring Awakening and American Idiot. His additional Broadway credits include the musicals Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Triumph of Love, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Everyday Rapture, and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, and the plays ’Night Mother, After the Fall, An Almost Holy Picture, Uncle Vanya, The Lion in Winter, Side Man, and A View From the Bridge. He directed the films The Seagull, Flicka, and A Home at the End of the World. His television credits include the NBC series Smash and Do No Harm.


For More Information

For further details on the North American premiere of Marnie, please click here.






Friday October 19 at 8:00 p.m.

Monday October 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday October 27 at 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday October 31 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday November 3 at 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday November 7 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday November 10 at 1:00 p.m.




Nico Muhly


Nicholas Wright*






Robert Spano*


Michael Mayer

Set and Projection Designers

Julian Crouch and 59 Productions

Costume Designer

Arianne Philips*

Lighting Designer

Kevin Adams


Lynne Page*






Isabel Leonard  

Mrs. Rutland

Janis Kelly

Marnie’s Mother

Denyce Graves 

Terry Rutland

Iestyn Davies

Mark Rutland

Christopher Maltman



*Met debut



Commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera


Music by Nico Muhly, libretto by Nicholas Wright, based on the novel by Winston Graham


By special arrangement with Universal Pictures


Production a gift of Andrew J. Martin-Weber


Additional funding from the Francis Goelet Trusts, Dr. Coco Lazaroff, and American Express.


For prices and ticket information, please call (212) 362-6000 or visit

Special rates for groups of 10 or more are available by calling (212) 341-5410 or visiting