International Contemporary Opera at the Met

Recent decades have seen a blossoming of contemporary opera at the Met as part of General Manager Peter Gelb’s modernization plan. In addition to the American operas by Philip Glass, John Adams, Nico Muhly, Matthew Aucoin, and Terence Blanchard, notable new works by international composers have been added to the repertory.

The Tempest, by British composer Thomas Adès, had its Met premiere in 2012 following a successful world premiere at London’s Royal Opera Covent Garden in 2004. The Met’s new production, a co-production with L’Opéra de Québec and the Vienna State Opera, was directed by Robert Lepage and conducted by the composer, with Simon Keenlyside starring as Prospero. Adès also conducted the Met premiere of his opera The Exterminating Angel in 2017. This time the Met had co-commissioned the opera and co-produced the production with the Royal Opera Covent Garden, the Royal Danish Opera, and the Salzburg Festival. Tom Cairns directed the production, with a cast that included Amanda Echalaz, Audrey Luna, Alice Coote, Joseph Kaiser, Iestyn Davies, and Rod Gilfry.

Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin received its Met premiere in 2016 in a new production by Robert Lepage. After a triumphant world premiere at the Salzburg Festival in 2000, L’Amour de Loin played in several festivals and opera houses around the world. The new Met production, a co-production with L’Opéra de Québec, featured Susanna Phillips, Eric Owens, and Tamara Mumford in the cast and was conducted by Susanna Mälkki. Saariaho was only the second woman composer to have an opera performed by the Met after Ethel Smyth, whose Der Wald was performed in 1903.

In the 2025–26 season, Saariaho’s opera Innocence will come to the Met in a production by Simon Stone that had its world premiere at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in July, 2021.

This season, in addition to the new works by Terence Blanchard and Matthew Aucoin, Australian composer Brett Dean’s Hamlet will have its Met premiere. With a libretto by Matthew Jocelyn, Hamlet had a successful world premiere at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2017. Nicholas Carter makes his Met debut conducting a cast that includes Brenda Rae, Sarah Connolly, Rod Gilfry, and John Tomlinson. The production from Glyndebourne is by Neil Armfield.

 

Thomas Adès’s The Tempest

AOATM_Image87.jpgLeft: Audrey Luna and Simon Keenlyside in The Tempest, 2012.
Photos: Ken Howard

Right: Audrey Luna in scene from The Tempest by Thomas Adès, production by Robert Lepage, 2012.
Photos: Ken Howard

 

Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel

AOATM_Image88.jpgAudrey Luna in The Exterminating Angel by Thomas Adès, 2017.
Photos: Ken Howard

 

AOATM_Image89.jpgLeft: The Exterminating Angel, 2017, with (left to right) Kevin Burdette, David Adam Moore, Christine Rice, Rod Gilfry, Sally Matthews, Iestyn Davies, Alice Coote, John Tomlinson.
Photos: Ken Howard

Right: The Exterminating Angel, 2017, with (left to right) Joseph Kaiser, John Tomlinson, Frédéric Antoun, Christian Van Horn, Rod Gilfry, David Adam Moore. 
Photos: Ken Howard

 

Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin

AOATM_Image90.jpgTamara Mumford, Susanna Phillips and Eric Owens in L’Amour de Loin, production by Robert Lepage, 2016.
Photos: Ken Howard

 

AOATM_Image91.jpgLeft: Robert Lepage consults with composer Kaija Saariaho at rehearsal of L’Amour de Loin, 2016.
Photos: Ken Howard

Right: Eric Owens and Susanna Phillips in L’Amour de Loin, 2016.
Photos: Ken Howard

 

Brett Dean’s Hamlet

AOATM_Image92.jpgBrett Dean’s Hamlet at the Glyndebourne Festival, 2017.
Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

 

AOATM_Image93.jpgLeft: Librettist Matthew Jocelyn and composer Brett Dean at rehearsal for Hamlet at the Glyndebourne Festival, 2017.
Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

Right: Allan Clayton in the title role of Brett Dean’s Hamlet at the Glyndebourne Festival, 2017.
Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

 

Searching for an American Style

American Commissions and Beyond

American Émigrés

Postwar America

From Commercial Theater to the Met

American Modernism

Innovations and Collaborations

International Contemporary Opera at the Met