James Levine will conduct just 33 performances of four operas with the Met next season, a sharp break from his workaholic schedule since he became chief conductor in 1973.
Levine will lead new productions of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" and Verdi's "Macbeth," and revivals of Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" and Puccini's "Manon Lescaut," the Metropolitan Opera announced Tuesday.
This season, the Met music director is conducting 42 performances of seven operas _ down from a high of 111 performances in both 1982-83 and 1983-84. Other than 2005-6, when he tore a rotator cuff and missed the latter part of the season, next season will be Levine's lightest Met workload since 1975-76.
He said the decrease will be a one-season anomaly.
"Next year at one point I was fooling with a sabbatical," he said. "I have more different pieces to do."
Levine, who is also music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has never conducted a full performance of "Lucia".
"It's one of my favorites I knew all my life, since I was 10 years old, and each time it came, there were conductors willing and ready to do it, and to do it very well, and something else that involved the company," he said.
In the 2008-9 season, Levine will lead the first staged Met performance since 1907 of Berlioz's "La Damnation of Faust," a Robert Lepage production with Marcello Giordani that Seiji Ozawa is to conduct in a later season. That season also is to include new productions of Verdi's "Il Trovatore" by David McVicar from the Lyric Opera of Chicago with Salvatore Licitra and Dolora Zajick; John Adams' "Doctor Atomic" by Peter Sellars from the San Francisco Opera; Bellini's "La Sonnambula," (director TBA); Puccini's "La Rondine" by Nicolas Joel from the Theatre du Capitole de Toulouse with Angela Gheorghiu; and Massanet's "Thais" by John Cox from the Lyric Opera with Renee Fleming.
Fleming is to sing the title role in Bellini's "Norma" in the 2011-12 season. Minimalist director Robert Wilson will be in charge of the staging, which Met general manager Peter Gelb said he may propose be a co-production with the Zurich Opera.
"It's a piece that he's wanted to do," Gelb said. "Renee has wanted to work with him. In fact, they were already thinking of doing it together in Zurich."
Fleming will test the role in a concert version conducted by Levine at Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the summer of 2008. She said last week that she wants to see how that goes before completely committing to a staged performance.
"Just to make really sure that it's right," Fleming said.
Gelb said the 2009-10 season _ the first he fully programs _ is likely to include eight new productions. The latest addition is Valery Gergiev conducting William Kentridge's staging of Shostakovich's "The Nose."
There have been two changes to the seven productions Gelb announced last year for his first season, with Luc Bondy directing Puccini's "Tosca" instead of George C. Wolfe and Bartlett Sher replacing Bondy in Offenbach's "Les Contes D'Hoffmann."
For the 2006-7 season, Gelb decided to have John Doyle direct Britten's "Peter Grimes" and scrap a Trevor Nunn staging that appeared at the 2005 Salzburg Easter Festival and was billed as a co-production with the Met.
"I thought this would be a more exciting way of presenting it in New York," Gelb said.
He also pushed back a new production of Puccini's "La Fanciulla del West" by two years from its planned opening in 2008-09. It now likely will debut Dec. 11, 2010, 100 years and one day after its world premiere at the Met _ Dec. 11 is a Saturday that year, allowing a broadcast.
"Since the centenary year is `10-`11, it made more sense to hold it," Gelb said.
In the midst of his first season at the Met, Gelb said there have been 61 sold-out performances, up from 22 last season, and that 83 percent of potential box-office income to date had been sold, up from 74 percent at this point last year.
He also said the Met plans a May announcement on new commissions.
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Source: AP News