Punch Tavern, Fleet Street
London, May, 2014
Dear Ms. [representative],
Thank you again. I have decided not to renew my subscription in any way, shape, or form. That is the best way I know to tell SF Opera how unhappy I am with the upcoming season, which has uninteresting repertory choices and (mostly) disappointing casting.
I will buy single seats or go standing room to those operas I want to see.
And it surprised Mr. Gelb, who said in an interview that he had been in talk with Mr. Levine about announcing the conductor’s retirement after this season and making him the Met’s music director emeritus. But Mr. Gelb said he felt obligated, both morally and artistically, to see if changing Mr. Levine’s dosage would improve his upper body movement and help him get back to normal.
“He has supported this company, he has given everything to this company, and I feel the Met’s responsibility is to support him as long as we can,” Mr. Gelb, who briefed the Met’s board members on the situation on Monday, said in an interview. “If in fact it’s possible that by regulating his medication he will be able to conduct like the James Levine of before, that would be a miraculous turn of events that everyone here would embrace and cheer for.”It's going on five years since Levine resigned from the BSO, and during those five years, he had two years of not conducting at all and an extremely limited schedule since 2013. Here's what I said in 2012 about the situation at the Met:
It's the Board's responsibility, first and foremost, to take care of the institution, but it looks as though their primary concern right now is taking care of James Levine. I understand their desire to have him as active as possible in an organization he has helped shape for so long. But their evident reluctance to contemplate life without Levine is a serious concern. It is not good for the Met to be so dependent on one individual.
Star tenor Roberto Alagna—currently at the Met giving an acclaimed performance of Canio in Pagliacci—will sing his first-ever performances of des Grieux in Manon Lescaut, replacing Kaufmann. To allow time for him learn the staging before theFebruary 12 new production premiere, Alagna must withdraw from his remaining performances as Canio as he undertakes this new challenge. The French tenor, who has sung more than 100 Met performances since 1996, learned the role of des Grieux for a 2006 series of performances that were canceled, meaning that this season’s Met performances are the first time he will ever sing the part onstage.
Marco Berti, currently starring at the Met as Calàf in Puccini’s Turandot, will replace Alagna as Canio in the remaining performances of Pagliacci. These performances will be Berti’s Met role debut as Canio.(Let's just say that at this point, I will faint if Kaufmann ever sings opera on the West Coast.)
“This is a transition year, and I didn’t want to leave my successor with something big and ugly,” Gockley said in a phone interview. “I wanted to be sure to hand Matthew something that was attainable.”This is a sad state of affairs and doesn't serve the audience well. Or at least it doesn't serve audience members who want something beyond the operatic top 10 (or 25), who want the repertory to expand rather than contract, who think that a little dissonance doesn't chase audiences away, who think that there are plenty of operas with tunes that are never heard but are worth reviving, whether that's early Verdi, the unknown Donizetti, operas by Respighi, Martinu, and others.