Met Free Streams – Week 23 – August 17 to August 23

Met Free Streams – Week 23 – August 17 to August 23

Monday, August 17
Puccini’s Tosca #4 ~ 2Hrs and 19Mins
Starring Patricia Racette, Roberto Alagna, and George Gagnidze, conducted by Riccardo Frizza. From November 9, 2013.

This time around, Luc Bondy’s production of Puccini’s famous opera stars Patricia Racette in the title role of the diva whose jealousy is her undoing, opposite Roberto Alagna as her lover, Cavaradossi, the painter whose political ideals exacerbate the fall into tragedy. George Gagnidze is Scarpia, the villainous chief of police who wants Tosca for himself. Riccardo Frizza leads the Met’s musical forces in this powerful verismo score.

So – while I love Patricia Racette, this is not her very best role, especially considering her co-stars – although she is powerful in it. By now you know how I feel about Alagna, and Gagnidze is suitably evil if not particularly distinguished as Scarpia. Unless this is one of your very favorite operas, the 4th time around is probably not necessary – and certainly not if you were fortunate enough to see the Pavarotti/Verrett version in June.

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The Met Streams Verdi’s ‘Luisa Miller’

Sunday, August 16
Verdi’s Luisa Miller ~ 2Hrs and 27Mins
Starring Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Bonaldo Giaiotti, and James Morris, conducted by James Levine. From January 20, 1979.

Renata Scotto is the bubbly, innocent Luisa, who is very much in love with Rodolfo (a young Plácido Domingo with blond hair! – who actually played her father, Miller, in the last go-around which was almost 40 years later). Rodolfo turns out to be the son of Count Walter (Bonaldo Giaiotti), who has other plans for his aristocratic boy. Enter the evil Wurm (James Morris) whose extortion eventually backfires, but nevertheless destroys the young lovers despite everything Luisa’s father (Sherrill Milnes in a superb performance) does to protect her. James Levine’s affectionate conducting and director Nathaniel Merrill’s production help make this one a performance to treasure.

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The Met Streams Puccini’s ‘La Bohème’

Saturday, August 15
Puccini’s La Bohème ~ 2Hrs and 21Mins
Starring Kristine Opolais, Susanna Phillips, Vittorio Grigolo, Massimo Cavalletti, Patrick Carfizzi, and Oren Gradus, conducted by Stefano Ranzani. From April 5, 2014.

This is La Bohème stream #5 and features the latest generation of Met stars to take on Franco Zeffirelli’s classic production of Puccini’s most popular opera. We already have had chances to see two wonderful classic productions – with Scotto & Pavarotti, and Stratas & Carreras, as well as two more recent productions – with Yoncheva & Fabiano and Gheorghiu & Vargas. This time, Vittorio Grigolo (we’ve seen him previously as Roméo, Cavaradossi and Hoffmann) is the emotional young bohemian poet Rodolfo who falls head over heels in love with his neighbor, the seamstress Mimì, sung by the wonderful Kristine Opolais (we’ve already seen her staring in Manon Lescaut, Rusalka and Butterfly). Susanna Phillips (L’Amour de Loin, Cosi and a previous Bohème) is the flirtatious Musetta, Massimo Cavalletti (Manon Lescaut) is her sweetheart Marcello, Patrick Carfizzi plays Schaunard and Oren Gradus as Colline completes the ensemble. Stefano Ranzani conducts.

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Met Opera – Week 22 – August 13, 2020

Thursday, August 13
Puccini’s Turandot ~ 2Hrs and 21Mins
Starring Nina Stemme, Anita Hartig, Marco Berti, and Alexander Tsymbalyuk, conducted by Paolo Carignani. From January 30, 2016.

This is the third time around – and so the third cast we’ve had the opportunity to see – in
Franco Zeffirelli’s spectacular, golden production of Puccini’s Turandot. This one stars the great dramatic soprano Nina Stemme as Turandot, the icy Chinese princess who refuses all suitors due to the mistreatment visited upon her female ancestors by men in the past. Marco Berti is Calàf this time, the mysterious prince who succeeds in solving Turandot’s riddles, but then has to take a bit more time – and drama – to finally win her love. Berti made a serviceable Calàf, if you just love Puccini and want to hear and see this glorious production it again (we’ve already commented on the Met’s many issues with finding really good tenors these days!). Anita Hartig actually steals this show with her gorgeously and emotionally sung Liù, the faithful slave girl who gives her life to save Calàf. Alexander Tsymbalyuk is Timur; Ping, Pang, and Pong (Dwayne Croft, Tony Stevenson, and Eduardo Valdes) have rarely been presented with more panache, and Paolo Carignani conducts.

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Met Opera – Week 22 – August 10-12, 2020

Tuesday, August 11
Bizet’s Carmen ~ 2Hrs and 52Mins
Starring Aleksandra Kurzak, Clémentine Margaine, Roberto Alagna, and Alexander Vinogradov, conducted by Louis Langrée. From February 2, 2019.

And speaking of tenors – and the Met’s seemingly dismal lack of them… alas, for its third Carmen – we have the second one with Alagna – and we have the very same Sir Richard Eyre production that we have already seen twice before and that had its Met premiere back in 2009. But still – it is Bizet’s ever-popular and wonderfully tuneful opera, even with Roberto Alagna – again – as Don José (and by now an obviously aging one at that!), the wayward military officer whose desperate love for the Gypsy, Carmen, proves to be both of their undoing. Clémentine Margaine is Carmen this time, and sadly does not hold a candle to Elīna Garanča, or even to Anita Rachvelishvili, who both sang the role earlier. This cast also includes soprano Aleksandra Kurzak as the demure Micaëla (hummmm – she is now Alagna’s wife and seems, coincidently, to be appearing in a lot more operas these days) and bass Alexander Vinogradov as the swaggering bullfighter Escamillo. Maestro Louis Langrée was on the podium to conduct the opera, which as everyone should know by now, features one instantly recognizable melody after another. ‘Nough said.

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