The Met announced Thursday that Nézet-Séguin will open the season Sept. 21 with the company’s first new production of Verdi’s “Aida” in more than three decades, starring Anna Netrebko. He will conduct two new stagings by director Ivo van Hove: Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” and, in its Met premiere, Jake Heggie’s “Dead Man Walking.” And he will lead revivals of Beethoven’s “Fidelio,” Gounod’s “Roméo et Juliette” and Strauss’ “Die Frau Ohne Schatten.”
Nézet-Séguin had initially planned to start as music director next season but agreed to take on the title two years early, in a limited capacity, to help the company recover from allegations of sexual misconduct against his predecessor, James Levine. Now he will be a more regular presence.
“What’s great is he is approaching the Met repertoire like a big meal,” Peter Gelb, the company’s general manager, said in an interview. “He’s doing everything.”
The company also plans to mount its first production by Barrie Kosky, one of the most widely admired directors in opera: the Met premiere of Prokofiev’s “The Fiery Angel.” On New Year’s Eve it will present an inventive new production of Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte,” directed by Simon McBurney and conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. (But the Met plans to keep the abridged, English-language version of the retiring Julie Taymor staging as a holiday presentation for families in future seasons.)
Netrebko unveils Abigaille in Verdi’s “Nabucco”; Angela Meade and Jamie Barton, a potent pairing at the Met in “Norma,” join for Donizetti’s “Roberto Devereux”; Anita Rachvelishvili reprises her galvanic Azucena in Verdi’s “Il Trovatore”; and the tenor Javier Camarena stars in Bellini’s “Il Pirata.” Richard Jones’ wicked staging of Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” returns, in English, as the family holiday presentation.
The Met will go dark in February, when its sales have typically been slowest, and extend its season until June 5, taking some weeks formerly used by American Ballet Theater. There will be more of the Sunday matinees the company began this season: 22, up from the current 16, all of which will be followed by post-performance talks.
It’s a big season, with 23 operas on offer. Here are the highlights, chosen by writers of The New York Times.
I confess I’ll miss the Met’s solidly gargantuan old “Aida” production. And director Michael Mayer’s track record with Verdi — half-baked, Vegas-theme “Rigoletto,” turgidly traditional “La Traviata” — doesn’t fill me with hope for his new staging’s visual glamour or interpretive acuity. But it will offer Nézet-Séguin and Netrebko’s first full production together, and an opening night cast — also including Rachvelishvili, Piotr Beczala and Ludovic Tézier — that probably can’t be bettered in the world today. — ZACHARY WOOLFE
‘Tristan und Isolde’
Christine Goerke, a celebrated Brünnhilde last season in the “Ring,” is scaling a new Wagnerian summit: Isolde. She will sing it opposite Stuart Skelton’s Tristan in Mariusz Trelinski’s bleak but powerful production, opening Oct. 17, with a cast that also includes frequent scene-stealer Günther Groissböck as King Marke. It will be the Met debut of the German conductor Hartmut Haenchen, 76, who has been praised for his Wagner performances at the Bayreuth Festival and at Dutch National Opera, where he was music director. — MICHAEL COOPER
‘The Fiery Angel’
The Met has waited a criminally long time to hire Kosky, one of the busiest directors in Europe. But he won’t be making his debut quietly. His bawdy take on “The Fiery Angel” — a Prokofiev rarity that opens Nov. 12 — includes leather harnesses, profanely dressed nuns and a devil with a dildo. This production might not have shocked the jaded audience in Munich, where it originated. But Met regulars, get ready: Zeffirelli’s “Bohème” this ain’t. — JOSHUA BARONE
Lise Davidsen’s Met debut this season, in Tchaikovsky’s “The Queen of Spades,” more than lived up to the hype, and made me eager for her return as Leonore in Beethoven’s “Fidelio,” beginning Nov. 30. The Met does not always observe anniversaries, but this revival, mounted the year of Beethoven’s 250th birthday, features Nézet-Séguin conducting a strong cast that also includes Golda Schultz, Brandon Jovanovich, Tomasz Konieczny and Christian Van Horn. — MICHAEL COOPER
The Tony Award-winning van Hove is making his Met debut on March 1 with this “Don Giovanni,” which I saw at the Paris Opera last year. It bears his trademark aesthetic of brutal austerity and sexy desperation, with a besuited antihero straight out of “American Psycho.” Don’t expect a revelatory read of Mozart’s opera, but do look forward to an improvement on the Met’s defanged current production. — JOSHUA BARONE
Harry Bicket has become something of a house Handel conductor at the Met — and especially after his vibrant “Agrippina” this season, I’m not complaining. Starting March 2, he leads two singers from that production, Kate Lindsey and Iestyn Davies, in a revival of David McVicar’s effective, Bollywood-tinged “Cesare,” alongside Kristina Mkhitaryan, Karen Cargill and Anthony Roth Costanzo. — ZACHARY WOOLFE
Now that William Kentridge’s staging of Berg’s “Wozzeck” has come to the Met, it will be interesting to revisit his version of “Lulu,” in a revival that stars Brenda Rae in the title role and opens March 5. While Kentridge’s projected images move quickly across the stage, the resulting effect is more than mere flash; his filmmaking chops bring to life aspects of this opera that other stagings breeze past. — SETH COLTER WALLS
Its lush score easily falling into heaviness, Dvorak’s opera needs a sure hand at the podium. It’s a challenging yet apt assignment for the Met debut of Jakub Hrusa, a rising Czech maestro who’s already a regular with American orchestras, if not yet with American opera houses. The title role should be an intriguing fit for the magnetic soprano Sonya Yoncheva, who’s joined by Beczala, superb as the Prince, on March 16. — ZACHARY WOOLFE
‘Die Frau Ohne Schatten’
For all its baffling elements, Strauss’ “Die Frau Ohne Schatten,” a fairy tale rife with symbolism, may be his masterpiece. Herbert Wernicke’s visually dazzling and profoundly humane 2001 production is returning on April 16 with an exciting cast: Klaus Florian Vogt and Elza van den Heever as the Emperor and Empress, and Michael Volle and Nina Stemme as the humble Dyer and his bitter wife. Nézet-Séguin conducts, and I hope he opts for leading a complete version of a long score often trimmed in performance. — ANTHONY TOMMASINI
The return of John Dexter’s 1978 production of Britten’s “Billy Budd,” on May 21, may not seem so newsworthy. But it offers an arresting dramatic spectacle, with a stage-filling set showing a late 18th-century British warship. And the cast for this intense, achingly tragic tale looks enticing, including the appealing baritone Joshua Hopkins as the innocent Billy and the ardent tenor Matthew Polenzani as the guilt-ridden Captain Vere. And finally, after 23 years, the excellent conductor Simone Young will be back at the Met. — ANTHONY TOMMASINI
This article originally appeared in The New York Times .