Broadway vets head to Met

Trio of directors bring skills to opera house

The Metropolitan Opera gets a dash of Broadway next season, with legiters such as John Doyle (“Sweeney Todd”), Mary Zimmerman (“Metamorphoses”) and Richard Jones (“Wrong Mountain”) helming three of the season’s seven new productions.

Some of those shows are co-productions that will debut elsewhere, in what Met general manager Peter Gelb likens to the Rialto’s out-of-town tryout system.

Zimmerman kicks off the season with a production of Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor.” Doyle, known in Gotham for his Sondheim revivals (“Todd,” “Company”) in which the actors double as the orchestra, helms a staging of Benjamin Britten’s “Peter Grimes,” while Jones takes on an English-language version of Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel.”

Phelim McDermott, one of the heads of London’s Improbable Theater — whose “Shockheaded Peter” had a run Off Broadway in 2005 — helms a staging of Philip Glass’s “Satyagraha.”

Production of “Satyagraha” will debut at English National Opera before its Met preem, and “Hansel” is a reconceived version of a co-production by Welsh National Opera and Chicago Lyric Opera.

Helmer Stephen Wadsworth’s new staging of Gluck’s “Iphigenie en Tauride” will bow at the Seattle Opera before coming to Gotham, and a production of Donizetti’s “La Fille du Regiment” was first performed at London’s Royal Opera House.

The seven new productions presented next season are the most in a single season since the Met moved to Lincoln Center in 1966.

Revivals on the sked include Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut,” Prokofiev’s “War and Peace” and “The Gambler,” and Renee Fleming singing in “La Traviata” and “Otello.” “The First Emperor,” Tan Dun’s opera that preemed at the Met this season, will return for three perfs.

In announcing the season, Gelb said long-term plans for the Met include Robert Wilson directing Fleming in Bellini’s “Norma” in 2011. He also hopes to see Audra McDonald in the role of Oppenheimer’s wife in John Adams’ “Doctor Atomic” during the 2008-09 season.

Gelb, who took over as GM of the Met last year, has become known for his aggressive tactics in boosting buzz about opera, enlisting big-name directors (Anthony Minghella, Julie Taymor) and initiating a program of live opera broadcasts in movie theaters. The broadcast series will expand next season.

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