08 August 2008

Let the Games Begin: Sieglinde's Met 2008-09 Season Preview

With about a week to go before Met single tickets go on sale to the general riff raff, Sieglinde has to get serious about her opera schedule. Poverty is really annoying, but thankfully, the cheap seats remain cheap this year, at $15 (or 2 euros, give or take), so it won't be that cataclysmic. Let's see now: 50 tickets is ... what? 750? Shit.

To help her plan on a budget, she lays out a list of 10+ things she's hoping to get tickets for this season. (You're welcome to use the list for your own season plans, clueless bitches.)

1. Karita Mattila's Salome. In this role, Mattila attains the summit of stimmkunst. (Take copious notes, Natalie.) The Salome is her greatest creation at the Met. We are joyous in its return. Will her pubes be shown in glorious HD? We shall *see*.

2. Katarina Dalayman's Isolde. Dalayman is Sieglinde's favorite up-and-coming Wagnerian soprano. Her mighty top notes radiate a la Rysanek, unpretty and defiant, but always true to the moment. She will burn both your eardrums. You will pee in your seat. (Maestro Daniel Barenboim's debut is a curiosity, but Sieglinde's not sure how much more he'll add to the evening's wattage.)

3. Christine Brewer's Brunnhilde. Brewer travels all over Earth as the world's stopgap dramatic soprano, yet she hardly stops by the Met to show off. Finally we get her, but only for one Ring cycle (the early bird special on Saturday matinee) and one extra Walküre. Why such limited exposure? Deborah Voigt's people must play real hardball, Sieglinde's telling you.

4. Renee Fleming's Really Huge Opening, which should (re)establish her supremacy in New York's opera constellation. After flirting with superficial sensations (Dessay and Netrebko, who else), the Gelb administration declares their allegience to the Beautiful Voice once and for all. Witness how the Met reverts back to the time-honored (a.k.a. Volpe) tradition of presenting a hodgepodge of tired opera scenes to open the season, after two seasons of Gelb incessantly preaching the virtues of opening with a new production of a complete work. Now it's a prima in the sole service of a diva, for a bejeweled audience into extravagant buffets of only the good stuff. Sieglinde, who has seen countless Fleming Manons and Violettas, is looking forward to the shimmering final scene of Capriccio.

5. Renee Fleming's Thaïs, yet another jewel in the crown. (Sieglinde's fan club membership would have been in serious jeopardy if she didn't list this one in the Top 5.)

6. Robangela (Robergela?), opera's own Brangelina, in La Rondine. Lurking behind Roberto Alagna is Giuseppe Filianoti, who makes us wet too. Angela Gheorghiu champions this Puccini like it's a real opera. Whatevs, she's entitled.

7. A promising new production of Il Trovatore, which will feature Sieglinde favorites Sondra Radvanovsky and the booming couple of Dolora Zajick and Luciana D'Intino sharing the Azucenas. If Salvatore Licitra and Dmitri Hvorostovsky try very hard not to suck, this may be the best ensemble this season.

8. Barbara Frittoli's Donna Anna, and barihunks Erwin Schrott (Netrebko's babee daddee) and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo as the horny duo of Don Giovanni and Leporello. Frittoli isn't singing on the evenings with the eye candy pair, so it's a two ticket minimum on this year's Don Giovanni. Barbara, you must know that you rock Sieglinde's nuts, so don't even think of cancelling on us.

9. Doctor Atomic, so we're not called heathens.

10. Runners up for 10th place, a list of semi-curiosities: Roberto Alagna doing Turiddu and Canio in the same evening; the Gheorghiu-Villazon tandem for Elisir; Mattila as Tatyana (ouch!); the scary Ewa Podles as La Cieca; Netrebko as Lucia (a major improvement to Dessay of last season); the return of Cristina Gallardo-Domas and Patricia Racette as Butterfly, both formidable interpretations; Mark Morris's brilliant Orfeo ed Euridice (and Stephanie Blythe's Amore, wow!); Felicity Palmer as the Countess in The Queen of Spades; Filianoti as the Duke of Mantua; Rusalka with Fleming and Blythe; Anja Harteros as Violetta; finally, Walküre attractions Waltraud Meier as Sieglinde with Johan Botha's first Siegmund at the Met and Placido Domingo's last Siegmund ever ever (but who knows, right?).