EarRelevant Staff | 25 SEP 2020
New York, NY— The Metropolitan Opera announced on Wednesday that the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has forced the cancellation of their entire 2020–21 season. However, the company has simultaneously announced an ambitious season for 2021–22.
The decision to cancel was based on advice of health officials who advise the Met and Lincoln Center. Because of the hundreds of performers who are required to rehearse and perform in close proximity and because of the company’s large audience, a determination was made that it would not be safe for the Met to resume until a vaccine is widely in use, herd immunity is established, and the wearing of masks and social distancing is no longer a medical requirement. Health officials have said this will likely take at least five to six months after a vaccine is initially made available.
Several other of the Met’s plans are intended to be responsive to an audience that will initially be more cautious. Plans include a number of earlier 7pm curtain times, as well as several operas with reduced running times. As examples, general manager Peter Gelb cites, “We will be presenting Boris Godunov in its original two-and-a-quarter-hour version without intermission, making cuts in the Baroque opera Rodelinda, and removing the intermission between Acts II and III in Madama Butterfly.” The Met will also be presenting a 90-minute English-language version of Cinderella, an adaptation of Laurent Pelly’s witty 2018 production of Massenet’s Cendrillon, with a new translation by Kelley Rourke, as a holiday entertainment for families.
The 2021–22 season will open with the Met premiere of Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, with a libretto by Kasi Lemmons, based on the memoir by Charles M. Blow. Fire Shut Up in My Bones will be an historic event for The Met as it marks the first time an opera by an African-American composer will appear on the Met stage. It is one of three contemporary works to have premieres in 2021–22, the greatest number of new operas to premiere in a single Met season since 1928–29. The other new works are Matthew Aucoin’s Eurydice, set to a libretto by Sarah Ruhl, and Brett Dean’s Hamlet, with a libretto by Matthew Jocelyn.
The season will also feature new productions of Verdi’s Rigoletto and Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. The Met present the original five-act, French-language version of Verdi’s Don Carlos.
Sixteen revivals will round out the season, which also features a concert by Anna Netrebko and the Met Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Nézet-Séguin, and a solo recital by soprano Sonya Yoncheva. In advance of the season opening, the Met is also planning a performance of Verdi’s Requiem to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
New productions that were to have premiered during the now-canceled 2020–21 season—Verdi’s Aida, Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and Don Giovanni, and Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking—will all be rescheduled for future seasons.
A complete list of the Met’s productions for 2021-22 appears below. Casting and performance dates are available at metopera.org.
- Aucoin: Eurydice *
- Blanchard: Fire Shut Up in My Bones *
- Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor
- Verdi: Rigoletto
- Verdi: Don Carlos *
Abridged English-Language Production
- Massenet: Cinderella
- Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov
- Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
- Gershwin: Porgy and Bess
- Glass: Akhnaten
- Gluck: Iphigénie en Tauride
- Handel: Rodelinda
- Mozart: The Magic Flute
- Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro
- Puccini: La Bohème
- Puccini: Madama Butterfly
- Puccini: Tosca
- Puccini: Turandot
- R. Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos
- R. Strauss: Elektra
- Stravinsky: The Rake’s Progress
- Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin
While the opera house remains dark over the next 12 months, the company will offer encore screenings in select cinemas from the Met’s collection of Live in HD presentations. The encore schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.
With the cancellation of the 2020–21 season, the National Council Auditions Grand Finals Concert on May 16, 2021, has also been canceled. However, the regional auditions will continue. The auditions will begin with a pre-screening round consisting of one to two arias pre-recorded on video. The next two rounds of the competition will be held via livestream video. Alternative arrangements for the finals will be announced in the coming months.
The Met Orchestra’s three concerts at Carnegie Hall scheduled for June 2021 have all been canceled, though the series will return in the 2021–22 season, with dates to be announced later. The orchestra’s international tour, also planned for June 2021, has been canceled as well. ■