After several months of offering free opera broadcasts from its HD library, the Metropolitan Opera is trying something new — generating revenue with a ticketed series called Met Stars Live in Concert. The first two recitals were by tenor Jonas Kaufmann on July 18 from Bavaria’s Polling Abbey and soprano Renée Fleming from Dumbarton Oaks Museum in Washington on Aug. 1.
Next up is a duo program by the wife-and-husband team of soprano Aleksandra Kurzak and tenor Roberto Alagna, accompanied by the Vienna Morphing String Quintet. Their performance takes place on an outdoor terrace in Èze, France, with what the Met describes as “a spectacular view of the Mediterranean,” at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 16.
The unique venues are intended to be a major part of the attraction, along with singer star power. In announcing the series, Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb said, “The performances are being set in picturesque locations, without audiences present in the venues. We think it will be more satisfying for the performers, as well as the thousands who will be watching at home, not to experience these performances through the eyes of a socially distanced audience.”
Like the Met’s Live in HD broadcasts, multiple cameras are used “to fully explore the interiors of the venues, capturing the artists’ performances as well as the architectural details of their unusual locations.” The standard entrances and exits of recital programs will be dispensed with, in favor of introductions by soprano Christine Goerke from the broadcast control room in New York.
Roberto Alagna made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1996 as Rodolfo in La Bohème and has since given more than 150 performances in 17 roles. His recent appearances with the company include Don José in Carmen, Samson in Samson et Dalila, Turiddu and Canio in the double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, and Cavaradossi in Tosca. Aleksandra Kurzak made her Met debut in 2004 as Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann and has returned in productions of La Traviata, Carmen, Pagliacci, The Elixir of Love, Hansel and Gretel, Rigoletto, and The Abduction from the Seraglio.
Their recital program includes the love duet that ends Act I of Madame Butterfly, the comic duet “Caro elisir” from The Elixir of Love, the dramatic confrontation scene between Santuzza and Turiddu from Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, the sensuous duet from Act I of Verdi’s Otello (in which Otello and Desdemona recall their first meeting), and the waltz duet, “Lippen schweigen,” that ends The Merry Widow.
Alagna also performs two arias (“Ah! lève-toi, soleil!” from Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette and “Ch’ella mi creda libero e lontano” from Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West) as does Kurzak (“Una voce poco fa” from The Barber of Seville and the “Ave Maria” from Otello).
Tickets for the recital are $20 and can be purchased at metopera.org/metstars. It can be viewed on computers, mobile devices, and on television via Chromecast or AirPlay. Ticket buyers can also view it on demand for 12 days after the livestream broadcast.