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Music Historian Jeffrey Engel presents 6 talks on The Metropolitan Opera.
These lectures will coincide with the live stream of the opera being performed at the Metropolitan Opera!
Jan. 10: Wozzeck
Composer: Alban Berg
One of the emblematic achievements of the thriving artistic forces in Germany and Austria during the brief period between world wars, Wozzeck was a sensation and a scandal at its premiere. Remarkably, it has lost none of its power to fascinate, shock, and engage audiences and its status as one of the defining musical works of the 20th century has not blunted its vitality.
Jan. 22: Porgy and Bess
Composer: The Gershwins
Porgy returns to the Met for the first time in nearly 30 year. James Robinson's stylish production transports audiences to Catfish Row on the Charleston waterfront, vibrant with the music, dancing, emotion and heartbreak of its inhabitants. David Robinson conducts a dynamic cast, featuring the sympathetic duo of Eric Owens and Angel Blue in the tital roles and an all-star ensemble that includes Golda Schultz, Latonia Moore, Denyce Graves, Frederick Ballentine, Alfred Walker and Ryan Speedo Green.
Feb. 28: Agrippina
Composer: George Frederic Handel
Handel's take of intrigue and impropriety in ancient Rome receives its first Met performances, with star mezzo-soprano Joyce DeDonato as the controlling power-hungry Agrippina and Harry Bicket conducting. Sir David McVicar's production ingeniously reframes the action of this black comedy about the abuse of power to "the present", where it should loudly resonate. The all-star cast features mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey as Agrippina's son and future emperor Nerone, soprano Brenda Rae as the seductive Poppea, countertenor Iestyn Davies as the ambitious officer Ottone, and bass Matthew Rose as the weary emperor Claudius.
March 12: Der Fliegende Hollander
Composer: Richard Wagner
Der Fliegende Hollander is the earliest of Wagner's operatic creations to remain in the repertory. The two lead roles represent archetypes to which the composer would return, in one form or another, in most of his later works: the "otherworldly stranger" and the women who sacrifices herself for his salvation. The work's unearthly ambiance is impressive but only one aspect of it: both the world of nature and of the supernatural are magnificently evoked in the score.
April 9: Tosca
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Puccini's melodrama about a volatile diva, a sadistic police chief and an idealistic artist has offended and thrilled audiences for more than a century. Critics, for their part, have often had problems with Tosca's rather grungy subject matter, the directness and intensity of its scare, and the crowd-pleasing dramatic opportunities it provides for its lead roles. But these same aspects have made Tosca one of a handful of iconic works that seem to represent opera in the public imagination. Tosca's popularity is further secured by a superb and exhilarating dramatic sweep, a driving score of abundant melody and theatrical shrewdness and a career-defying title role.
May 8: Maria Stuarda
Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
A searingly dramatic setting of Friedrich Schiller's play about Mary, Queen of Scots, and her political and personal rivalry with Wueen Elizabeth I of England, Maria Stuarda had a troubles genesis, despite its musical and theatrical brilliance, and only recently achieved a place in the repertory. These two fearsome rivals embody different perceptions of royalty, which were very much in direct conflict at that moment in time, and the opera's drama is true to history in a way the facts are not.
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