Opera company could face 'disaster scenario'

The lineup for the Metropolitan Opera’s 2009-10 season will include eight new productions — but lack a few previously discussed revivals that were trimmed in the fallout of the economic downturn.

Bartlett Sher, Richard Eyre and Mary Zimmerman are among the legiters collaborating on the season’s shows. Other notable creatives on the slate include actor-director Patrice Chereau, visual artist William Kentridge, architects Herzog and de Meuron and designer Miuccia Prada.

Season is the first entirely programmed by Peter Gelb, who became general manager at the Met during the 2006-07 season. Like most arts institutions, the Met has been hit by recent economic turbulence, with a 10% pay cut on the horizon for senior and administrative staff.

Chereau helms the Met preem of Janacek’s “From the House of the Dead” in November, while Kentridge directs Shostakovich’s “The Nose” in an April 2010 staging the marks the Met debut of both the opera and of Paulo Szot, who picked up a Tony last season for his turn in “South Pacific.”

Herzog, de Meuron and Prada will design a February 2010 production of Verdi’s “Attila,” while Zimmerman (“Metamorphoses”) will stage Rossini’s “Armida” in April 2010 with Renee Fleming (and with a design team including theater vets Brian MacDevitt designing lights and Graciela Daniele providing choreography).

Sher (“South Pacific”) will helm a December incarnation of Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffman,” working with habitual legit collaborators Michael Yeargan (sets) and Catherine Zuber (costumes).

Also among the new productions next season are Richard Eyre’s “Carmen,” starring Angela Gheorghiu and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon; Ambroise Thomas’ “Hamlet” toplined by Natalie Dessay; and a production of Puccini’s “Tosca” helmed by Luc Bondy.

Missing from the lineup were revivals of productions including “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” and “Die Frau Ohne Schatten.” Such previously announced productions were scuttled in the wake of budgetary concerns.

“We are still making cuts to make ends meet for next season,” Gelb said.

He also said the org is in discussions with various stage unions about new agreements.

The Met’s HD cinema broadcasts will continue during the 2009-10 season with nine live transmissions, while the Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Center Theater “Opera/Theater Commission” program will host an October workshop of an opera by composer Nico Muhly and playwright Craig Lucas.

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