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Previewing the 2024-25 Metropolitan Opera Season

By Alkis Karmpaliotis

 

The Metropolitan Opera recently opened ticket sales for its eagerly anticipated 2024-25 season, which features 18 operas and six new productions. Unsurprisingly, contemporary works are at the forefront of the lineup, continuing a trend that the Met has embraced over the last few years, with four of the six new productions being modern pieces and three being Met premieres.


Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb emphasized the company's commitment to modern operas in my recent interview with him, saying, "In upcoming seasons, there will be a greater emphasis than ever before on Met premieres of works that either we've commissioned ourselves or works that we've curated with new productions that we think belong on the Met stage." In tune with this policy, the next Met season will open with Grounded by Tony-winner Jeanine Tesori and George Brant.


Also among the contemporary works in the lineup are Moby-Dick by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer, Ainadamar by Osvaldo Golijov and David Henry Hwang, and Antony and Cleopatra by John Adams (this will be Adams's fifth opera to be presented at the Met). The other two new productions this season will be Verdi's Aida and Strauss's Salome. In addition to these blockbuster new stagings, the Met will also bring back a number of repertory productions of classic operas, including La Bohème, Il Trovatore, and more. This season also presents a plethora of opportunities for young audiences and non-opera-goers to get a taste of what opera is like.


My Picks:


Aida | Giuseppe Verdi

Dec 31 - Jan 25

Mar 14 - 29

Apr 27 - May 9

Aida at the Met Opera

For the first time in 34 years, the Met is set to introduce a new production of Verdi’s timeless classic, Aida. Every seasoned opera fan will miss Sonja Frisell's iconic staging of the piece, which was a staple of the Met's repertoire up until its final run in the 2022-23 season, but with new productions of La Traviata and Rigoletto recently coming to the Met, it was about time that Aida was recreated as well. This new staging, directed by Michael Mayer, was originally supposed to premiere in the 2020-21 season but was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making it all the more eagerly anticipated. This will be Mayer’s third Verdi production at the Met, following his innovative Las-Vegas-themed staging of Rigoletto a decade ago and captivating La Traviata right before the pandemic. The opera is set to open on New Year’s Eve and run throughout the second half of the season with various casts. The first run (Dec. 31 - Jan. 25) will be led by soprano Angel Blue in the title role, with tenor Piotr Beczała performing Radamés, the great Quinn Kelsey singing Amonasro, and Judit Kutasi singing Amneris. This run will be in good hands, conducted by Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The second run (Mar. 14 - 29) features Christina Nillson as Aida, superstar tenor Brian Jagde as Radamès, and Eric Owens as Amonasro, with Kutasi continuing on as Amneris. I am perhaps most excited for the third run (Apr. 27 - May 9) because, for only four performances, the great mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča will sing Amneris. The remainder of the cast comprises many of the same singers as in previous runs, including Angel Blue and Brian Jagde as the two lovers. The singing is certain to be incredible no matter when you go, so you can’t go wrong with any date!


Tosca | Giacomo Puccini

Sept 25 - Oct 11

Nov 12 - 24

Jan 9 - 23


Like Aida, this Tosca will run not one, not two, but three different times throughout the season, each with an entirely unique cast — and in my opinion, each run is better than the last. The first run (Sept. 25 - Oct. 11) will be led by a big three of Aleksandra Kurzak as Tosca, SeokJong Baek as Cavaradossi, and George Gagnidze as Scaripa, conducted by Xian Zhang (and Marco Armiliato for a single performance on October 6). The second run (Nov. 12-24) is headlined by the unparalleled soprano Lise Davidsen, who recently captivated Met audiences in La Forza del Destino, and an excellent supporting cast of Freddie De Tomasso and Quinn Kelsey. As I wrote in my review of Forza, Davidsen is “exactly the diva the Met needs,” so I am very excited to see her tackle yet another Italian role at the Met next year. This group will only run four performances together, so make sure to get tickets early! The final run (Jan. 9-23) is perhaps even more exciting, comprising Sondra Radvanovsky, arguably the world’s best Tosca, tenor Brian Jagde, and the great bass Bryn Terfel as Scarpia. While not a new production, the Met’s Tosca is certainly a must-see due to the incredible singers it presents.


Fidelio | Ludwig van Beethoven

Mar 4 - 15


For only five performances in March 2025, the Met will perform Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, with a star-studded cast of Lise Davidsen, Ying Fang, David Butt Philip, Tomas Konieczny, and René Pape. The short run of this opera ensures that every performance features the same cast, something that is sure to elevate the artists’ onstage chemistry. Like Tosca, this Fidelio is a must-see mainly because of the level of its cast; however, there is added anticipation for this run because, while Puccini is performed every year at the Met, Beethoven’s only opera is not performed particularly frequently. Mark it on your calendars now or you may miss it!


The Queen of Spades | Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

May 23 - Jun 7

The Queen of Spades at the Met Opera

Also for only five performances in May and June 2025, the Met will revive its magnificent production of Tchaikovsky’s thriller, The Queen of Spades. Tchaikovsky’s skills as a symphonist and ballet writer shine through in the score’s rich landscape of emotions, containing everything from elegant melodies to bone-chilling climaxes. The libretto, written by the composer’s brother Modest, masterfully sets the scene for the wide array of colors and textures embedded within the score. This production features the great Sonya Yoncheva making her debut as Lisa, as well as Brian Jagde and Igor Golovatenko, both coming off triumphant showings in La Forza del Destino earlier this season, as Hermann and Prince Yeletsky, respectively. Keri-Lynn Wilson, a rather experienced conductor of Russian music who made her Met debut in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk a few years ago, leads the run from the pit. This Queen of Spades is a fantastic introduction to Russian opera if you haven’t experienced it yet, and it is a must-see for any opera fan because of the strength of its cast and the beauty of its music. I would not recommend it for first-timers due to its length and heavy-duty nature, but if you’re open to adventure, give it a shot!


Salome | Richard Strauss

Apr 29 - May 24


For the first time in 20 years, the Met will stage a new production of Richard Strauss’s thrilling tragedy, Salome. The biblical tale, which has been through several adaptations and reworkings — most notably Oscar Wilde’s one-act play, on which Strauss’s opera is based — combined with Strauss’ ingenious music, makes for a harrowing theatrical experience. Director Claus Guth sets the piece in the Victorian era, packing it with symbolism and imaginative undertones. Soprano Elza van den Heever, who was spectacular in Tannhäuser last season, headlines the run, bringing what is sure to be a fiery interpretation of the tormented protagonist. The great baritone Peter Mattei sings the role of the prophet Jochanaan (John the Baptist), with Tenor Gerhard Siegel portraying Salome’s stepfather, King Herod. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts his first Met performances of the work, making it all the more exciting and wonderfully new. Salome, while short, is rich in musical motifs and ideas, seamlessly combining the styles of German and Italian opera into a quick but powerful emotional thunderstorm. While perhaps a tad heavy for those who haven’t heard German opera, this is an absolute must-see for operatic savants.


If you want to learn more about Salome and its backstory, check out this article by Appreciate Opera contributor Jane Fitzpatrick!


Contemporary Works:


Grounded | Jeanine Tesori

Sept 23 - Oct 19


Commissioned by the Met for Tony winner Jeanine Tesori, Grounded is a powerful story about the psychological toll of modern warfare. George Brant, who wrote the acclaimed play on which the opera is based, adapts the work for opera in a timely and thought-provoking libretto. The story follows Jess, a fighter pilot whose unplanned pregnancy forces her to relocate to Las Vegas and adapt to drone warfare. The piece originally premiered at the Kennedy Center in 2023, with the music being particularly well-received. This run, which premieres on the opening night of the season, is led by a pristine artistic team comprising Met music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and director Michael Mayer, whose innovative staging uses several advanced technologies and LED lights. Mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo, who originated the role in 2023 to great acclaim, portrays Jess, while Ben Bliss, Kyle Miller, and Kirsten MacKinnon round out the remainder of the cast.


Ainadamar | Osvaldo Golijov

Oct 15 - Nov 9

Ainadamar at the Met Opera

Ainadamar, the Met’s only Spanish-language opera of the season, tackles a deeply meaningful, dramatic, and, unfortunately, relevant theme, dramatizing the life of poet Federico García Lorca, who was murdered by Nationalist forces for his homosexuality and left-wing tendencies during the Spanish Civil War. Written by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov, the piece premiered at Tanglewood in 2003 and went on to win two Grammy Awards: Best Opera Recording in 2006 and Best Classical Contemporary Composition in 2007. Like many of Golijov’s operas, the work contains several Arab and Jewish idioms — Ainadamar is Arabic for “Fountain of Tears” — as well as an entire flamenco guitar section in the orchestra. Miguel Harth-Bedoya leads the run from the pit, while the dynamic soprano Angel Blue performs the role of Margarita Xirgu, who reflects on García Lorca’s life through flashbacks. García Lorca, cast as a trouser role to convey the character’s youth, is portrayed by Daniela Mack, while Elena Villalón and Alfredo Tejada round out the rest of the principal cast.


Moby-Dick | Jake Heggie

Mar 3 - 29


Just one year after the triumphant Met premiere of his first opera, Dead Man Walking, composer Jake Heggie returns with another modern masterpiece, Moby-Dick. Dedicated to the great musical theater master Stephen Sondheim, the piece premiered in 2010 at the Dallas Opera to great acclaim, with a stunning staging by director Leonard Foglia that will be tweaked to adjust to the Met stage. A stellar cast comes together for the Met premiere, including tenor Brandon Jovanoich as Captain Ahab, Stephen Costello as Greenhorn (the operatic version of Ishmael), baritone Peter Mattei as Starbuck, and Ryan Speedo Green as Queequeg. Conducted by Karen Kamensek, this intense adaptation of Herman Melville’s classic novel is sure to be a highlight of the Met season.


May 20 - Jun 7


Another adaptation of a literary classic, Antony and Cleopatra, with music and libretto by the preeminent American composer John Adams, is a modern classic making its timely Met premiere. Coming off of a successful Met debut in another Adams opera, El Niño, soprano Julia Bullock stars as Cleopatra, joined by bass-baritone Gerald Finley as Antony. Tenor Paul Appleby portrays Caesar, Antony’s rival, and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong is Octavia, Antony’s wife and Caesar’s sister. The composer himself conducts the piece — which is reason enough to go see it!


For Young Audiences:


La Bohème | Giacomo Puccini

Nov 13 - 30

Jan 11 - 25

Mar 5 - 21

May 25 - Jun 6

La Bohéme at the Met Opera

The world’s most popular opera, La Bohème, will see four runs at the Met this season.


Run 1 (Nov. 13 - 30): Kensho Watanabe, Ailyn Pérez, Emily Pogorelc, Dmytro Popov, Boris Pinkhasovich

Run 2 (Jan. 11 - 25): Kensho Watanabe, Eleonora Buratto, Adela Zaharia, Matthew Polenzani, David Bizic

Run 3 (Mar. 5 - 21): Alexander Soddy, Kristina Mkhitaryan, Brittany Renee, Joseph Calleja, Luca Micheletti

Run 4 (May. 25 - Jun. 6): Riccardo Frizza, Corinne Winters, Gabriella Reyes, Dmytro Popov, Anthony Clark Evans


Bohème is a fantastic introduction to opera because, without being too long, overwhelming, or complicated, it tells a powerful and relatable story, accompanied by some of the most irresistible melodies Italian opera has to offer. Although less than two hours long, it is considered by many to be the masterpiece of Italian opera, comprising four acts of nonstop lush and incredible music. A night with Bohème is filled with humor, romance, tragedy — and an impressive set by Franco Zefirelli that will catch anyone’s eye. For new audiences, it doesn’t matter which run you see, as the emotional impact of Puccini’s masterful score will register no matter what. 


For regular operagoers, I would recommend Runs 1 and 3, mainly because of the pull of superstars Ailyn Pérez and Joseph Calleja. Hearing Calleja belt out the high C in “Che gelida manina” on the Met stage will surely be a treat.


Il Barbiere di Siviglia | Gioachino Rossini

Apr 15 - May 8

May 16 - Jun 5


Originally supposed to be staged during the canceled 2020-21 season, the Met is finally reintroducing its marvelous production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia for the first time in years, with a stellar cast of Rossini specialists, including Lawrence Brownlee and Isabel Leonard in the first run (Apr. 15 - May. 8), and Jack Swanson and Aigul Akhmetshina — who recently conquered the Met stage as Carmen — in the second (May. 16 - Jun. 5). Barbiere, a comedy, is one of the great jewels of the bel canto repertoire, containing some of the most beautiful melodies and vocal fireworks in all of opera. It tells the story of the boisterous barber Figaro, portrayed by Davide Luciano in the first run and Andrew Zhilikhovsky in the second, and how he helps Count Almaviva to save his lover, Rosina, from her abusive guardian. Funnily enough, Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, also part of the Met season, is a sequel to this opera since they are each based on separate parts of Beaumarchais’s Figaro trilogy. This is a perfect comedy for young people and inexperienced operagoers to try out; it’s funny, light, and breathtakingly beautiful.


Die Zauberflöte | Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mar 23 - Apr 26


There is no better introduction to opera than Mozart’s beloved fairy tale, The Magic Flute. I had the pleasure of seeing Simon McBurney’s playful production when it opened last year, and it was an absolute delight. A wonderful example of creativity, it contains projections, puppetry, and a slew of special effects that draw your attention from the first note and never let go. As for the music? Well, with delightful solo flute lines and glockenspiel passages, how can you possibly get bored? The singspiel format, which features spoken dialogue between musical numbers rather than recitatives, makes the opera feel somewhat like a musical, only with a more impressive orchestra, bigger stage, more awesome staging — and, dare I say, even better music.


Apart from a bit of PG content with the servant Monostatos, the opera should be suitable for young audiences and the perfect introduction to those who haven’t been to the opera before. Tenor Ben Bliss and soprano Golda Schultz are the star-crossed lovers Tamino and Pamina, and baritone Thomas Oliemans returns as the bird-catcher Papageno. Evan Rogister conducts the run.


For very young audiences, I suggest checking out the abridged English-language version of the opera in the Winter!


Familiar Favorites:


Rigoletto | Giuseppe Verdi

Sept 30 - Nov 8

Jan 6 - 24

Rigoletto at the Met Opera

One of the most beloved operas in the canon, Verdi’s masterpiece Rigoletto never ceases to amaze. Bartlett Sher’s creative production, which opened on New Year’s Eve just a couple of seasons ago, sets the action in 1920s Germany, demonstrating the timelessness and universal appeal of the drama. In the first run (Sept. 30 - Nov. 8), led by Maestro Pier Giorgio Morandi, the world’s great Verdi baritone Quinn Kelsey reprises his fiery interpretation of the title character, with Nadine Sierra portraying his ill-fated daughter Gilda. Tenor Stephen Costello, a reliable Met star who seems to improve with every performance he gives, is the scheming Duke of Mantua, and J’Nai Bridges is the seductive Maddalena. The role of Sparafucile is shared by basses Andrea Mastroni and Ante Jerkunica. The second run (Jan. 6 - 24) features Maestro Maurizio Bellini leading a cast of Luca Salsi as Rigoletto, Erin Morley as Gilda, Pene Pati in his Met debut as the Duke, Rihab Chaieb as Maddalena, and Soloman Howard as Sparafucile. Rigoletto is most famous for its showstopper aria “La donna è mobile” and gorgeous quartet “Bella figlia dell’amore”, but I find the chilling trio between Sparafucile, Maddalena, and Gilda in Act III, with an invisible chorus singing the harrowing sounds of wind, to be the opera’s highlight. Due to the powerhouse duo of Kelsey and Sierra, who are sure to impress not only vocally but theatrically, I would recommend catching the first run, but, as usual, you can’t go wrong with either.


Les Contes d'Hoffman | Jacques Offenbach

Sep 24 - Oct 18


The Met’s revival of its magical production of Les Contes d’Hoffman is as close to a must-see as you can get. The opera follows three of Hoffman’s love affairs in the form of flashbacks, each of which ends catastrophically. Benjamin Bernheim, one of the world’s most spectacular lyric tenors, who recently impressed in Roméo et Juliette, headlines the run as the protagonist. His first lover is Olympia, a mechanical doll from Paris who he mistakes for a real woman, performed by Erin Morley, whose technical ability and purity of tone are among the best in the world. The second is Antonia, an old lover of Hoffman’s living in Munich, portrayed by the incredible Pretty Yende. The third is Giulietta, a Venetian courtesan who takes advantage of Hoffman and then abandons him, performed by Clémentine Margaine. Throughout the opera, Hoffman encounters four villains, each portrayed by Christian van Horn, who seek to disturb his plans. Offenbach’s illustrious score is wide-ranging and diverse, oscillating from operetta-like drinking songs and dynamic choral numbers to elegant waltzes and sublime melodies. The Act III barcarolle (Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour) is one of the most famous duets in opera.


Die Frau ohne Schatten | Richard Strauss

Nov 29 - Dec 19


Die Frau ohne Schatten — “The Woman without a Shadow” — although far less commonly performed than Salome or Der Rosenkavalier, is considered by many to be Strauss’s most important work. At over three hours in duration, it comes with a huge orchestra and an elaborate production, not to mention singers that can handle its challenging score and length. For example, the role of the Empress requires a soprano who can sustain a high tessitura for hours on end, singing coloratura passages and high trills throughout; the Emperor and Nurse must frequently oscillate between low and high vocal ranges over the course of the piece, with hardly any time to rest; and the rest of the singers must maintain a sufficient volume of sound to overpower the orchestra. Thankfully, the Met is up for the challenge. This run sees three incredible Strauss sopranos in the principal cast: Elza van den Heever as the Empress, Lise Lindstrom as the Dyer’s Wife, and Nina Stemme as the Nurse. The great and impressively versatile bass-baritone Michael Volle, who has recently performed the roles of Hans Sachs and Falstaff on the Met stage, is Barak, the lowly Dyer. Tenor Russell Thomas rounds out the main cast as the Emperor, and the run is conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.


Le Nozze di Figaro | Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mar 31 - Apr 26

May 3 - 17

Le Nozze di Figaro at the Met Opera

Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro is one of the most frequently performed and popular operas in the canon — and rightfully so. Its charming and hilarious plot, centered on the chaotic wedding day of Figaro and Susanna, is filled with pranks, confusion, and unexpected twists. Apart from a charming story, Nozze boasts some of Mozart’s best music; arias, duets, quartets, octets, marches, dances, love songs, and tantrums — this opera really has it all. The first run (Mar. 31 - Apr. 26) is spearheaded by Michael Sumuel as Figaro, Olga Kulchynska as Susanna, Joshua Hopkins as the Count, Federica Lombardi as the Countess, and Marianne Crebassa as Cherubino. The second run (May. 3 - 17) features Luca Pisaroni and Adam Plachetka reprising their roles as Figaro and the Count, with Rosa Feola and Jacquelyn Stucker portraying Susanna and the Countess, respectively. All performances are conducted by Met debutant Joana Mallwitz. This Nozze is sure to be a hit no matter when you see it, but each run offers different benefits. The first is longer, giving its youthful and energetic cast time to develop chemistry; the second is shorter but contains the best Mozart singers in the world. The quality of the presentation is sure to be top-notch no matter when you see it, while the production — one of the Met’s best — with its grandiose set and rotating platform, will always impress.


Il Trovatore | Giuseppe Verdi

Oct 26 - Dec 6


Another classic opera with a brilliant Met production, Verdi’s impossible-to-keep-up-with Il Trovatore will run practically nonstop for the first half of the season, with only minor changes in casting. From October 26 to November 14, soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen portrays the noble Leonora, while Angela Meade replaces her for the rest of the run. The role of Azucena is taken on by mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton until November 7, then Olesya Petrova through December 6. Tenor Michael Fabiano is the bold troubadour Manrico, and baritone Igor Golovatenko is the fierce Count di Luna. The third Verdi opera to take the Met stage this season, Trovatore is a wonderful opportunity for opera fans and novices alike to experience the peak of Italian opera.


Dec 12 - Jan 4


In my interview with him, Met Opera General Manager Peter Gelb called the holiday presentation of The Magic Flute “the operatic response to The Nutcracker.” Over the years, this abridged, English-language adaptation of Mozart’s classic opera has been just that, becoming a beloved holiday tradition. With a magical and wonderfully imaginative production by Julie Taymor, it is the perfect operatic introduction for young kids. Whether you’re an adult, kid, or even a regular operagoer yourself, this Magic Flute makes for an absolutely dazzling evening to spend with family and friends.


Jan 30, Jun 12, Jun 18


Outside of the pit, the Met Orchestra will also give three performances at Carnegie Hall. On January 30, Maestro Myung-Whun Chung and violinist Maxim Vengerov will perform an all-Brahms program featuring his Violin Concerto and Symphony No. 4. On June 12, Yannick Nézet-Séguin will lead an All-Strauss program including the Der Rosenkavalier Suite, Ein Heldenleben, and selected orchestral songs with Elza van den Heever. On June 18, Nézet-Séguin will be joined by soprano Angel Blue to perform a diverse program comprising music by Gabriela Ortiz, Leonard Bernstein, Terence Blanchard, and Antonin Dvořák. The Met Opera Chamber Ensemble will also give six concerts at Carnegie Hall throughout the year.

 

My name is Alkis Karmpaliotis, and I'm a senior at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York. I hope you found this guide helpful! I founded AppreciateOpera.org in 2019, and you can support my work by becoming a member and reading some of my other articles!

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