The Met, whose budget of roughly $300 million in a normal season makes it the greatest performing arts company in the nation, is taking a series of steps to try to ensure its survival and adjust to a changed world. It is advertising its whole 2021-22 season, months ahead of schedule, partly in the hopes that people who purchased tickets to canceled performances– roughly $20 million in tickets has actually already been sold– can be convinced to exchange them for the recently revealed operas.
“Fire Shut Up in My Bones” will be one of 3 contemporary works at the Met next season– the most considering that 1928. (The others are Matthew Aucoin’s “Eurydice” and Brett Dean’s “Hamlet.”) The Met will stage the original five-act, French-language version of Verdi’s “Don Carlos” for the first time, in a brand-new production by David McVicar that will be conducted by the company’s music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
There will likewise be brand-new productions of Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” directed by Bartlett Sher, and Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor,” directed by Simon Stone, whose staging of “Yerma” at the Park Avenue Armory caused an experience in 2018. A veteran soprano, Nina Stemme, will star in Strauss’s “Elektra” along with a rising one, Lise Davidsen, who likewise appears because author’s “Ariadne auf Naxos” and Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.” “Die Meistersinger” will be performed by Antonio Pappano, the music director of the Royal Opera in London, returning to the Met for the first time in decades. And Susanna Malkki will lead Stravinsky’s “The Rake’s Progress”; she is among 5 female conductors scheduled to appear, the most in a season in Met history.
Mr. Gelb said that even when the Met can reopen, audiences will likely be slow to return– with attendance maybe half of what it was in pre-pandemic times. So the company will add more early 7 p.m. drape times, which people have required in surveys. It will reduce some operas, providing Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov” in a two-and-a-half-hour version without any intermission; trimming Handel’s “Rodelinda”; and removing the second intermission from Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.” It will expand its offerings for families, providing a brand-new 90-minute, English-language “Cinderella”– an adjustment of Massenet’s “Cendrillon”– in addition to its popular abridged “Magic Flute.”
And the Met will work to increase the diversity of its offerings. While “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” was originally planned for a later season, Mr. Gelb chose that with calls for racial justice resonating through the music and the country world, it should be provided pride of place next year: opening night of the Met’s return season. The business is likewise including three Black authors– Valerie Coleman, Jessie Montgomery and Joel Thompson– to the commissioning program it keeps up Lincoln Center Theater.
“We’re attempting to send out a signal that the Met wishes to fulfill the times in which we live head on,” Mr. Gelb said. “Given all the calls for greater social justice and variety, we think it’s proper, after being off for a year, to come back in such a way that shows the Met’s social responsibility.”
“Fire Shut Up in My Bones” will be one of 3 modern works at the Met next season– the most because 1928. “Die Meistersinger” will be performed by Antonio Pappano, the music director of the Royal Opera in London, returning to the Met for the first time in years. While “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” was initially prepared for a later season, Mr. Gelb decided that with calls for racial justice resonating through the nation and the music world, it ought to be offered pride of place next year: opening night of the Met’s comeback season.