March, as the saying goes, comes in like a lion… though, for the Metropolitan Opera chorus, orchestra, staff performers, directors, stage managers, and stage crew, it pretty much stays lionesque until the bitter end! We have FOUR new shows opening this month, with one making its triumphant return after a few months off.
Elektra: Set in an unspecified modern setting by the late director Patrice Chereau, Strauss’s stark, psychologically imposing masterpiece unfolds without impediment, allowing the audience to truly experience the staggering beauty of one of Strauss’s densest, most complex operas. Christine Goerke is in her wheelhouse as the grieving, vengeful Elektra, and is supported by a fantastic cast of Elsa van der Heever, Michaela Schuster, Jay Hunter Morris, and Mikhail Petrenko. The orchestra will be at its astounding best under the baton of our incredible new music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin. [Opens March 1st.]
Così fan tutte: Possibly the most operatic fun you’ll have all year. Set in Coney Island in the 1950s, the Mozartian tale of the foibles of Venus & Mars, not to mention the presence of actual circus performers (think fire eaters, strongmen, and a lady with a snake), will thoroughly delight you. (And the lucky small group of chorus members- 24 altogether- have the benefit of riding the carnival rides!) The cast is full of young, vibrant Mozart singers: there’s Amanda Majeski, Susanna Malfi, and Adam Platchetka (all three veterans of the Met’s Le Nozze di Figaro production), not to mention Ben Bliss and Christopher Maltman (both veterans of the Met’s The Magic Flute). Kelli O’Hara is taking a break from her successful Broadway career to play the role of Despina, Fiordiligi and Dorabella’s sassy servant. You won’t want to miss this one! [Opens March 15th.]
Lucia di Lammermoor: Less fun than Così, but certainly containing far more drama, deceit, and death, Pretty Yende & Olga Peretyatko-Mariotti (most recently seen on the Met stage playing Gilda in Rigoletto) split the demanding, coloratura tour-de-force role of Lucia. Two Met favorites, Vittorio Grigolo and Michael Fabiano, split the role of Edgardo, her doomed lover. Come for the drama, stay for the wedding day murder and the iconic mad scene aria (which contains a challenging, but beautiful, duet between Lucia and the first flutist in the orchestra). [Opens March 22nd]
Luisa Miller: Boy, we’ve got some doozies this month! A rarely-performed Verdi opera, Luisa Miller is similar in plot to Lucia (people in love with other people, but engaged to marry people they don’t love), only in this case, the male lead, Rodrigo, the son of a local lord, is the one secretly in love with another woman (that woman being Luisa, who is the daughter of an old soldier, and not in the same social class as Rodrigo). Spoiler alert: things don’t end well, though this time there’s less blood, and more poison. Nevertheless, the score sparkles, the choral writing is lithe and lyrical, and the duo of Sonya Yoncheva and Piotr Beczala are bound to be impressive. Plus, the unstoppable Placido Domingo graces the stage as Luisa’s father. [Opens March 29th.]
Turandot: If you haven’t gotten enough death and/or dismemberment from Elektra, Lucia, or Luisa Miller, then fret not! Turandot is here to chop the heads off all her hopeful suitors! All except one, that is! Chorus participation is at an all-time high in one of Puccini’s most stunningly written works. The classic Zeffirelli production is an audience favorite. Who can resist applauding the over-the-top opulence when the curtain rises for the 2nd act? The colorful characters, soaring voices, famous arias ("Nessun Dorma", anyone?), and a stage packed to the hilt with singers, actors, and dancers makes Turandot a great choice for anyone looking to attend a Met Opera performance for the first time. [Returns March 21st.]
Hope to see you at one of the shows this month! Click here to get your tickets!
Lianne Coble-Dispensa joined the Metropolitan Opera as a member of the extra chorus in 2010, and went full time in 2015. She is the Editor-in-Chief for the Met Artists Newsletter, and is a member of the Met Chorus Artists executive board. When she's not singing opera or furiously copy editing this month's newsletter, she enjoys spending the lion's share of her free time cooking various delights in the kitchen, reading non-fiction, Crossfitting, and running (you may see her in this year's NYC Half Marathon). She is married to fellow chorister (and ultramarathoner) Scott Dispensa, and they live in Teaneck, NJ with two ostentatiously-named cats (Maximilien de Robespierre and Charles Hubert Hastings Parry).