Jean Pierre Ponnelle 's classic production of La Clemenza di Tito returns for the first time since 2008 with an all star cast that includes Giuseppe Filianoti, Elina Garanca, and Barbara Frittoli.
Jean Pierre Ponnelle's production of La Clemenza di Tito returns to the Met after a four year absence. Jean Pierre Ponnelle's production made its debut in 1984 after Ponnelle's highly successful production of Idomeneo. He would later go on to direct Manon and Le Nozze di Figaro. During his time at the Met Ponnelle was known for his distinguished styled production. His sets usually contained lavish sets made up of stairways and huge columns. For this production, Ponnelle combined classical backdrops with eighteenth-century costumes to emphasize the Enlightenment issues hinted by the libretto. During certain arias props such as a table and chairs are brought on manually which may make the production feel dated but the last time it was revived critics stated that it was "difficult to resist the natural glamour of Ponnelle's particular kind of theatre." It will be a pleasure to see this elegant production be immortalized in its HD transmission this season.
Giuseppe Filianoti's career has been a roller coaster ride ever since he debuted at the Met. After his vocal surgery due to cancer, he lost his voice with little hope from doctors of ever recovering. He battled to regain form incurring rocky performances. Most notably Filianoti was asked to pull out of the opening night at La Scala of Don Carlo after a disastrous dress rehearsal. His subsequent engagements were met with mixed results, especially La Clemenza di Tito in Torino. During his 2008 performances critics noticed that while he hit all the notes his voice sounded exhausted. Filianoti took a break from the opera world for surgery a year later and returned to the Met in 2010 in Les Contes d'Hoffman to outstanding reviews. Filianoti was praised for his passionate, warm and powerful voice as well as his vulnerability. Having seen the performance, Filianoti demonstrated the promise he once showed when he first debuted at the Met. However even though he turned to form his 2011 performances of Don Giovanni at La Scala were met with mixed reviews as they called his Don Ottavio unstylish and called his voice better suited for Verdi. This year's Tito will be a huge test for Filianoti as he gets his first HD broadcast at the Met and must prove whether he is a right fit for Mozart.
Elina Garanca is no stranger to Mozart. She has built her career on the repertoire singing most of the Mozartean canon around the world. As a result, it is a bit strange that this will be Garanca's first Mozart role at the Met. It is also her return to the Met since her pregnancy. Last year Elina Garanca cancelled a highly anticipated run of Anna Bolena at the Met and Don Giovanni at La Scala due to her first pregnancy. Since then she has limited her schedule and will make her operatic return over the summer in La Clemenza di Tito. The question lies in how much has her voice changed if at all since her pregnancy. Ms. Garanca made her debut at the Met in 2008 and since then has went on to reach acclaim for her bel canto roles and her sensuous Carmen. Critics have raved about her alluring sensuality, her attention to detail and subtext, her nuanced phrasing and vocal clarity. In part many have stated that all these qualities are due to her Mozartean background. Garanca is not only a intelligent singer she is also an alluring actress that captivates the audience with every movement she makes on the stage. In the role of Sesto she will play her first pants role at the Met, something she has already proven to due well around the world. When she played Romeo in Bellini's I Capuleti e Monetcchi at the Royal Opera House, Garanca was praised for her masculine posture and convincing boyish qualities. It is no doubt that Garanca has it all to be the supreme Sesto at the Met and it will be even more rewarding as she will get her third HD performance.
Kate Lindsey will sing her first Annio, yet another pants role in her repertorie. Lindsey made her Met debut in 2005 as Javotte in Manon and sang a number of comprimario and supporting roles for a many years before her big break. In 2009 Lindsey came into prominence when she stepped in for Elina Garanca in the role of Nickclause in Les Conte d'Hoffman. She received an HD transmission allowing not only the Met audience, but the rest of the world to see her. As a result, Lindsey immediately became a big hit with audiences and was given more leading roles. She also got the opportunity in to make more debuts worldwide. Lindsey is an artist known for her commitment, and her exquisite suppleness in acting and singing. Like Ms. Garanca she is able to convince in pants roles with her boyish mannerisms. The role of Annio will be her third Mozart role at the Met and it will mark her second HD transmission.
Harry Bicket returns to his acclaimed interpretation of "La Clemenza di Tito." Bicket, a specialist in Baroque music made his Met debut in the Rodelinda in 2004 and returned for the two subsequent revivals of the production. In 2008 he led the Met Orchestra in "La Clemenza di Tito" and triumphed leading a swift ensemble. Bicket is known for being sympathetic with singers and his alert leadership. It will be interesting to see whether his interpretation has grown in four years and if he will be as successful as in 2008. La Clemenza di Tito will mark Bicket's second HD transmission after last year's "Rodelinda."
And for those not familiar with the work, here are a few DVD recommendations to watch:
The following two DVDs include star studded casts. The Salzburg production (Left) includes Vesselina Kasarova as Sesto, Michael Shade, Elina Garanca as Annio and Dorethea Roschmann. The Zurich Production (right) stars Jonas Kaufmann as Tito, Vesselina Kasarova as Sesto and Eva Mei as Vitellia. Both are very different but provide new insight and modern touches to the classic work.