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Metropolitan Opera announces 2018-19 season, advances Yannick Nézet-Séguin's start date

Robert Rowat

Along with the announcement of its new season, the Metropolitan Opera has revealed that music director designate Yannick Nézet-Séguin will assume the music directorship starting in 2018-19, two years ahead of schedule.

"By freeing up some guest conducting weeks in his busy calendar in both the 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons, Nézet-Séguin will now be able to conduct three operas and two Met Orchestra concerts at Carnegie Hall in each of those seasons, instead of the two operas per season originally scheduled," announced the Met via press release.

This news comes following recent speculation about the stability of the artistic leadership at the Met in the wake of the suspension of former music director James Levine due to sexual abuse allegations, and the sudden death of the Met's artistic administrator, Robert Rattray, in January.

"With the assumption of the music director title in the fall of 2018, Nézet-Séguin will also be taking on the full artistic responsibilities for the orchestra, chorus, and music staff," continues the Met's announcement in an effort to erase doubt. "His full-time collaboration with Met general manager Peter Gelb on all other artistic matters will also begin at that time. As previously announced, Nézet-Séguin will begin conducting a minimum of five operas per season starting with the 2020–21 season."

With the arrival of Nézet-Séguin, the music directorship will be named in recognition of a $15 million donation from the Neubauer Family Foundation. "I have worked with the Neubauers for many years in Philadelphia and know how committed they are to supporting the arts," says Nézet-Séguin. "Their extraordinary generosity for the work of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Met makes this exciting moment even more humbling for me."

In 2018-19, Nézet-Séguin will lead a new production by Michael Mayer of Verdi's La Traviata that will open in December with Diana Damrau in the title role. He'll also conduct revivals of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande (with Marie-Nicole Lemieux singing Geneviève) and Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites (with Adrianne Pieczonka singing Madame Lidoine).

A scene from the Metropolitan Opera's production of Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites.

Pelléas et Mélisande returns to the Met stage for the first time in almost a decade starting Jan. 15, 2019. (Ken Howard)

Other highlights include: a new production of Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila to open the season; the premiere of Nico Muhly's Marnie, a Met co-commission based on the same novel that inspired the Hitchcock film of the same name, and starring mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard in the title role; and Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur in a new production by David MacVicar with Anna Netrebko making her title role debut.

Also, Robert Lepage's Ring Cycle returns in March 2019, conducted by Philippe Jordan and with a cast led by Christine Goerke's Brünnhilde.

Other Canadian singers announced are Sondra Radvanovsky (Aïda, Tosca), Gerald Finley (Bluebeard), Etienne Dupuis (Marcello) and Rihab Chaieb (Zerlina). To consult the full 2018-19 season, head over to the Met's website.

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