Sundays at the Met
This season, the Metropolitan Opera is offering more weekend performances than ever before, thanks to the launch of Sunday matinees for the first time in our history. That means it’s now easier than ever to experience the incomparable artistry showcased on the stage of the Met. With a lineup of five new productions and 20 revivals, the 2019–20 season features musical and theatrical riches that can’t be matched on any other stage.
Sunday matinees have a start time of 3 PM, except for Tosca on March 29 which starts at 2 PM.
Puccini’s fin-de-siècle masterpiece about struggling artists has given opera lovers plenty to swoon over since it premiered in 1896. The opera teems with big personalities and grand emotions, but it’s the relationships at the heart of its story that are most striking: Somehow, they’re both raw and human, grandiose and tender. Franco Zeffirelli’s astonishing production perfectly captures the work’s Parisian setting and its poignant soul, and has been moving Met audiences to tears for more than a quarter-century.
The Queen of Spades
Predictably, Pushkin’s brooding tale of a soldier’s gambling addiction and obsession with two women doesn’t end well for any of the main characters. The short story’s darkness and dense psychological drama inspired Tchaikovsky to compose some of his most gripping music for the stage, however, with duets and solos that are as bone-chilling as they are beautiful. A treat for lovers of Tsarist Russia, cads, and cards.
The Magic Flute
Now a kid-friendly holiday tradition, Julie Taymor’s puppet-filled staging stints on none of the grown-up intrigue pulsating through Mozart’s classic fairy tale. At the crux of the opera are two heroes embarking on similar quests for personal fulfillment, though the supernatural characters they meet offer a range of wild episodes along the way, affording some of the composer’s most dazzling vocal pyrotechnics. Presented in an abridged English-language version, this Magic Flute promises pure enchantment.
Berg’s first opera is a modernist, tabloid drama that tells of a hapless soldier who, victimized by his superiors, murders his common-law wife in a fit of jealousy and dies trying to cover up his crime. The music is equally savage and stark, but the work is so evocative, nuanced, and politically canny that it has never lacked for devotees since its 1925 premiere. Today, it is ranked among the 20th century’s finest operas. South African artist William Kentridge’s expressionist production sets the tale in an apocalyptic pre-World War I environment and layers it with surreal visuals, to brilliant and brutal effect.
The demanding title role in Verdi’s tragedy about an emancipated courtesan who dies slowly of consumption requires a star soprano capable of reaching stratospheric heights both vocally and dramatically. Like its heroine, the opera runs the emotional gamut, moving deftly from jaunty drinking songs to some of the composer’s most inspired and devastating music in the final acts. The Met’s production, by director Michael Mayer, gives the story a lavish staging with extravagant costumes and jewel-box sets.
Handel’s first operatic masterpiece is a jewel of the Baroque repertoire. Its satirical treatment of the title character—the plotting mother of Nero, who wishes to help her son grab the throne from the Roman emperor Claudius—is both darkly comic and full of lively music, and features plum roles for a trio of female virtuosos and one heroic countertenor. In his production, Sir David McVicar transports the action to the present, maximizing the work’s contemporary resonance.
Così fan tutte
The exuberant last of Mozart’s legendary collaborations with librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, this saucy comedy of manners tracks an ill-conceived bet made on women’s fidelity. (Everyone involved proves happily fickle in the end.) The master composer lines his score with delicious confections—stunning arias, frothy orchestrations—and the Met meets these demands with a fun and zany staging that relocates the philandering to 1950s Coney Island.
Puccini’s ultimate operatic thriller revolves around a cast of unlikely characters, including a pious diva, a painter who is also a political insurgent, and a sadistic police chief. Yet somehow the scenario not only works, but offers some of Puccini’s most vivid and realistic dramatic writing. At the Met, the world-class spectacle of Sir David McVicar’s extravagant production combines with Puccini’s music to take the breath away.
A prime example of the lyrical and virtuosic bel canto style of singing, this historical tragedy tells of two queens—Mary, Queen of Scots, and her jealous cousin, Queen Elizabeth I—who are both vying for the English crown. The end of the opera’s first act becomes a battleground for dueling divas, with each prodding the other to bravura vocal heights. A must-see for lovers of the female voice, Donizetti’s dazzling masterpiece is also a treat for history buffs, with its nods to the real-life events that defined the Tudor era.