Saturday, April 13, 2024

Opera Bliss: CCP’s The Met Live in HD Season 9 Unveiled

Opera Bliss: CCP’s The Met Live in HD Season 9 Unveiled

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An extraordinary lineup of exciting Met opera productions comes to the Philippine cinema through the CCP’s The Met Live in HD starting this March.

Now on its 9th season, the opera program of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) presents seven classic operas – Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss,  Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi, Carmen by Georges Bizet, X: The Life and All Times of Malcolm X by Anthony Davis, La Forza del Destino by Giuseppe Verdi, La Rondine by Giacomo Puccini, and Dead Man Walking by Jake Heggie.

The new season opens on March 5 with Strauss’s most popular opera about a wise woman of the world who is involved with a much younger lover. Forced to accept the laws of time, she gives him up to a pretty young heiress.

First premiered in 1911, set in an idealized Vienna, the tragic opera is a comic yet nostalgic fantasy drama with striking touches of philosophy and social commentary on its libretto written by Viennese author and poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal and sung with a magnificent score by Strauss.

A dream cast assembles for this grand Viennese comedy, with Soprano Lise Davidsen performing as the aging Marschallin, opposite mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey as her lover Octavian and soprano Erin Morley as Sophie, the beautiful younger woman who steals his heart. Bass Günther Groissböck returns as the churlish Baron Ochs, and Brian Mulligan is Sophie’s wealthy father, Faninal. Maestro Simone Young takes the Met podium to oversee Robert Carsen’s fin-de-siècle staging.

Ancient Babylon comes to life in Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco on April 2. In this classic Met staging of biblical proportions, Verdi and Temistocle Solera took some liberties with biblical history and created a stirring drama about the fall of ancient Jerusalem at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco).

Verdi’s third opera, which had a world premiere in Teatro alla Scala, Milan in 1842, is known for its exhilarating chorus “Va, pensiero” and titular aria “Dio di Giuda.”

Baritone George Gagnidze makes his Met role debut as the imperious king Nabucco, performing with soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska who reprises her role as vengeful daughter Abigaille. Mezzo-soprano Maria Barakova and tenor SeokJong Baek, in his company debut, are Fenena and Ismaele, whose love transcends politics, and bass Dmitry Belosselskiy repeats his celebrated portrayal of the high priest Zaccaria. Daniele Callegari conducts.

Premiering on the Philippine big screen on May 7 is Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Acclaimed English director Carrie Cracknell makes her Met debut with Bizet’s masterpiece. First premiered in Paris in 1875, the opera tells about a gypsy seductress who lives by her own rules. At the heart of this tragic romantic tale are gendered violence, abusive labor structures, and the desire to break through societal boundaries – social issues that are still relevant today.

One of the most frequently staged operas in the world, this Met opera staging stars dazzling young mezzo-soprano Aigul Akhmetshina in the title role, alongside tenor Piotr Beczała as Carmen’s troubled lover Don José, soprano Angel Blue as the loyal Micaëla, and bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen as the swaggering Escamillo. Daniele Rustioni conducts Bizet’s heart-pounding score.

Anthony Davis’s groundbreaking and influential opera, X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X,

will arrive in the Ayala cinema on June 4. Robert O’Hara, theater luminary and Tony-nominated director of Slave Play, oversees a potent new staging that imagines Malcolm as an Everyman whose story transcends time and space.

An exceptional cast of breakout artists and young Met stars enliven the operatic retelling of the civil rights leader’s life, which premiered in 1986. Baritone Will Liverman, who triumphed in the Met premiere of Fire Shut Up in My Bones, sings Malcolm X. Soprano Leah Hawkins performs as his mother Louise, while mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis as his sister Ella, bass-baritone Michael Sumuel as his brother Reginald, and tenor Victor Ryan Robertson as Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. Kazem Abdullah conducts the newly revised score, which provides a layered, jazz-inflected setting for the libretto by esteemed writer Thulani Davis.

Catch Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s masterpiece on Verdi’s grand tale of ill-fated love, deadly vendetta, and family strife, La Forza del Destino, on July 2.

Director Mariusz Treliński delivers Met’s first new Forza in nearly 30 years, setting the scene in a contemporary world and making extensive use of the theater’s turntable to represent the unstoppable advance of destiny that drives the opera’s chain of calamitous events.

A gripping tale about Leonora, a beautiful daughter of the wealthy Marquis who has fallen in lover with a Peruvian nobleman who is deemed unworthy because of his Incan blood. When the couple elopes, an accident happens that kills the protagonist’s father. Leonora’s brother swears to avenge their father’s death. In the ensuing chaos, the lovers become separated.

Stellar soprano Lise Davidsen triumphs with her portrayal of Leonora, one of the repertory’s most tormented yet thrilling heroines. The distinguished cast features tenor Brian Jagde as Leonora’s forbidden beloved Don Alvaro, baritone Igor Golovatenko as her vengeful brother Don Carlo, mezzo-soprano Judit Kutasi as the fortune teller Preziosilla, bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi as Fra Melitone, and bass Soloman Howard as both Leonora’s father and Padre Guardiano.

Another bittersweet love story makes a rare premiere on August 13. Puccini’s La Rondine follows the plight of Magda who falls in love with a handsome young Ruggero, but her unfounded fears about her checkered past somehow ruin their happy ever after. Soprano Angel Blue and tenor Jonathan Tetelman portray the star-crossed lovers.

Maestro Speranza Scappucci conducts Nicolas Joël’s Art Deco–inspired staging, which transports audiences from the heart of Parisian nightlife to a dreamy vision of the French Riviera. In their Met debuts, soprano Emily Pogorelc and tenor Bekhzod Davronov complete the sterling cast as Lisette and Prunier.

The 9th season of CCP’s The Met Live in HD culminates with American composer Jake Heggie’s masterpiece Dead Man Walking on September 3. In the haunting new Met production directed, Heggie and librettist Terrence McNally bring to life Sister Helen Prejean’s memoir about her fight for the soul of a condemned murderer.

Directed by Ivo van Hove, Met’s most widely performed new opera of the last 20 years stars mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato starring as Sister Helen. The outstanding cast features bass-baritone Ryan McKinny as the death-row inmate Joseph De Rocher, soprano Latonia Moore as Sister Rose, and legendary mezzo-soprano Susan Graham – who sang Helen Prejean in the opera’s 2000 premiere – as De Rocher’s mother. Met music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin takes the podium for this landmark opera.

                                                            

All screenings are scheduled at 5:30 p.m. at Ayala Malls Greenbelt 3 Cinema 1 in Makati City. Tickets are priced at Php 450.00. Students and young professionals get a discounted price of Php100.00 upon presentation of a valid ID. Tickets are available at Greenbelt ticket booths and the website www.sureseats.com.

The CCP’s The Met: Live in HD is a special program of the CCP Film, Broadcast, and New Media Division (CCP FBNMD), under the Production and Exhibition Department, in partnership with The Metropolitan Opera of New York, the Filipinas Opera Society Foundation, Inc., and Ayala Malls Cinemas. The series showcases The Metropolitan Theater’s operatic productions through High-Definition (HD) digital video technology and Dolby Sound, recreating the experience of watching an opera production at the Met “live”.