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The Year in Opera

A guide to what's on for 2018–19 in the world’s opera houses.
By Eloise Giegerich 

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Sondra Radvanovsky will sing Elisabetta in San Francisco Opera’s Roberto Devereux
© Michael Cooper
FROM NEW PRODUCTIONS by veteran and up-and-coming directors to role debuts by opera’s biggest stars, this year brings an exciting mix of the familiar and fresh, offering audiences a season rich with promise. At the Met, catch diva extraordinaire Anna Netrebko in her first New York Aida, or head to Toronto for the world premiere of Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian. New stagings also abound, from Barrie Kosky’s Agrippina in Munich to Anne Bogart’s must-see Handmaid’s Tale at Boston Lyric Opera. Whether you’re seeking out classics or something avant-garde, this season has all opera-lovers covered.

North America 

   Los Angeles    


Susan Graham, making her role debut as the Witch, lures Sasha Cooke (Hansel) and Liv Redpath (Gretel) to her house in Doug Fitch’s Hansel and Gretel staging; James Conlon conducts. For more modern fare, try the West Coast premiere of David Lang’s Loser, featuring Rod Gilfry. Plus, Beth Morrison Projects teams up with LAO to present the world premiere of p r i s m, from composer Ellen Reid and librettist Roxie Perkins, as well as Soldier Songs, a rock-infused mash-up of theater, opera and concert music, created by composer David T. Little.

DON'T MISS: Thaddeus Strassberger’s new production of La Clemenza di Tito, starring Russell Thomas in the title role.

   San Francisco    


Sondra Radvanovsky, Russell Thomas and Jamie Barton headline the San Francisco premiere of Stephen Lawless’s Roberto Devereux production. Plus, a new Tosca staging from Shawna Lucey, starring Carmen Giannattasio in the title role, Brian Jagde as Cavaradossi and Scott Hendricks as Scarpia; Leo Hussain conducts, making his SFO debut.



The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs makes its debut in the Pacific Northwest, in Kevin Newbury’s staging. In the mood for classics? Try Paul Curran’s Carmen production, or Dan Wallace Miller’s staging of Trovatore, starring Leah Crocetto—and later Angela Meade—as Leonora, Issachah Savage as Manrico and Lester Lynch as Di Luna. 

DON'T MISS: A new Turn of the Screw production staged by Peter Kazaras, featuring Elizabeth Caballero as the Governess, Ben Bliss as Peter Quint and Maria Zifchak as Mrs. Grose.

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Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Walküre
© Richard Hubert Smith



In November, David Pountney’s star-studded new Ring cycle resumes its run at Lyric Opera with Siegfried, featuring Burkhard Fritz in the title role, Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde and Eric Owens as Wotan. Plus, Francesca Zambello and Jerome Robbins’s West Side Story has its Lyric premiere in May, in a coproduction with Houston Grand Opera and Glimmerglass Festival. 

DON'T MISS: Anna Netrebko gives a recital in December, and in March, Renée Fleming celebrates her 25th anniversary at Lyric Opera, in a one-night-only concert and post-performance gala.

   New York City      

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Nico Muhly’s Marnie, due at the Met in October
© Richard Hubert Smith


In September, Elīna Garanča and Roberto Alagna headline Samson et Dalila, from Tony Award-winning director Darko Tresnjak, who makes his Met debut with the new production. Other new productions include David McVicar’s Adriana Lecouvreur and two Michael Mayer stagings—the U.S. premiere of Nico Muhly’s Marnie, which sees the return after more than a decade of mezzo Denyce Graves as Marnie’s mother, and La Traviata, paced by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Plus, Robert Lepage’s Ring cycle returns to the house, in three full cycles, featuring Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde, in her Met role debut. 

DON'T MISS: Star soprano Anna Netrebko in her Met role debut as Aida.


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Robert Xavier Rodríguez’s Frida with Catalina Cuervo in the title role and Ricardo Herrera as Diego River
© Philip Groshong


Head to Miami for Florida Grand Opera’s productions of Bohème, Figaro and Werther (featuring Daniela Mack as Charlotte), as well as Robert Xavier Rodríguez’s Frida. Travel north to Palm Beach for La Traviata, Don Giovanni, with Andrei Bondarenko in the title role, or Die Fledermaus, starring Zach Borichevsky (Eisenstein) in his PBO debut, Keri Alkema (Rosalinde) and Stephanie Blythe (Orlofsky). Have room for more? Celebrate Sarasota Opera’s sixtieth anniversary with the “Diamond Anniversary Recital,” a new series featuring opera, operetta and art songs, on April 5.

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Melody Moore, Senta in Houston Grand Opera’s Flying Dutchman
© Jeff Roffman



Andrzej Dobber and Melody Moore sing the Dutchman and Senta in the local premiere of Tomer Zvulun’s staging, while Ryan McKinny stars in Kasper Holten’s Don Giovanni production. Plus, catch Lawrence Brownlee (Nadir) and Mariusz Kwiecień (Zurga) in E. Loren Meeker’s Pêcheurs de Perles revival. 

DON'T MISS: In April, Houston presents the world premiere of Tarik O’Regan’s The Phoenix, chronicling the life of Lorenzo da Ponte and starring Thomas Hampson and Luca Pisaroni, who both play the legendary librettist.



Many a star makes a debut in Dallas this season. In October, Anja Kampe sings Senta in Christopher Alden’s Dutchman; Stéphanie d’Oustrac sings the title role in the revival of David McVicar’s Carmen; and Mark Delavan (Falstaff), Quinn Kelsey (Ford) and Angela Meade (Alice Ford) make their company debuts in Falstaff.

   St. Paul, Minnesota     


Swing by Minnesota Opera for the world premiere of The Fix, from Oscar and Tony Award-winning director Eric Simonson, based on the true story of the Black Sox baseball scandal. For laughs, try the company premiere of The Italian Straw Hat, from composer Nino Rota—best known for scoring Fellini’s and Coppola’s Godfather—based on the 1851 Labiche and Marc-Michel play. 

   Detroit, Michigan    


At the Detroit Opera House, take in classics such as Eugene Onegin, Hansel and Gretel and Il Barbiere di Siviglia, or choose from something more contemporary, such as Bernstein’s Candide or Ricky Ian Gordon’s Grapes of Wrath. Plus, Renée Fleming sings a one-night-only gala concert, on September 29.

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Azoor Photo/Alamy



In October, travel north for the world premiere of Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian, featuring the company debuts of Thomas Hampson and Karita Mattila, paced by Johannes Debus. Peter Hinton directs the production, which tells the story of Roman emperor Hadrian (Hampson), and his doomed lover Antinous (Isaiah Bell), who—spoiler alert—drowns in the Nile River.

DON'T MISS: Russell Thomas sings Otello to Gerald Finley’s Iago in a revival of David Alden’s 2014 production.

   Washington, D.C.    


In D.C., catch Francesca Zambello’s Traviata staging, starring Venera Gimadieva (Violetta), Joshua Guerrero (Alfredo) and Lucas Meachem (Germont). Plus, Speranza Scappucci paces Ethan McSweeny’s Tosca production, featuring Keri Alkema and later Latonia Moore in the title role.



Rosetta Cucchi stages a production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Boston Lyric Opera, starring Matthew Worth (Figaro) and Daniela Mack (Rosina). Plus, Anne Bogart directs a new staging of Poul Ruders’s Handmaid’s Tale, based on Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name; Jennifer Johnson Cano and Maria Zifchak headline.



At Indiana University, take in L’Elisir d’Amore or the recent (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Also on offer are Giulio Cesare, Hansel and Gretel and Dialogues des Carmélites. Drop by Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute for productions of Dido and Aeneas, Sweeney Todd or Rene Orth’s Empty the House, or stop in New York for Juilliard’s “Kurt Weill’s Berlin” program, or MSM’s Due Timidi, Suor Angelica, Emmeline, and the Senior Opera Theater production of Albert Herring.


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Robert Carsen’s staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
© Scott Rylander/ArenaPAL


Catch four new productions in Philadelphia this season, including Laurent Pelly’s Lucia di Lammermoor, headlined by Brenda Rae; a reimagined Voix Humaine with Patricia Racette; and “Queens of the Night,” an evening of pomp, pageantry and ballads, courtesy of cohosts Blythely Oratonio (aka Stephanie Blythe) and Martha Graham Cracker. Plus, two world premieres—Glass Handel, featuring the music of Handel and Glass, and starring countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo; and Lembit Beecher’s Sky on Swings, directed by Joanna Settle and starring Frederica von Stade.

DON'T MISS: The U.S. premiere in February of Robert Carsen’s Midsummer Night’s Dream staging, featuring Tim Mead as Oberon and Anna Christy as Tytania.

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In December, GUSTAVO DUDAMEL makes his Met debut, conducting the revival of Bartlett Sher’s Otello production. For the LA Phil’s centennial, Dudamel will conduct twenty programs, ranging from the world premiere of John Adams’s piano concerto to Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand.”
JAMES GAFFIGAN paces the Zeffirelli Bohème revival at the Met in September, in his house debut. Gaffigan later travels to San Francisco, conducting Francesca Zambello’s Carmen staging, which stars J’Nai Bridges.
LIDIYA YANKOVSKAYA, current resident artist at National Sawdust and recently named music director of Chicago Opera Theater, conducts COT’s new production of Iolanta in November, staged by Paul Curran. Later, the maestra heads to D.C., pacing the world premiere of Taking Up Serpents in her WNO debut.



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Deborah Warner’s staging of Billy Budd
© Javier Del Real


At London’s Coliseum, catch a new staging of Salome from theater director Adena Jacobs; a new production of Britten’s War Requiem by Daniel Kramer; and a new Merry Widow from director Max Webster (The Lorax). Head to Covent Garden for Royal Opera’s revival of Deborah Warner’s Billy Budd, the first company staging of the Britten opera in more than two decades, as well as Richard Jones’s Kát’a Kabanová production, featuring Amanda Majeski and Pavel Černoch in their ROH debuts. 

DON'T MISS: ENO stages its first Porgy and Bess in October. Plus, the world premiere of Iain Bell’s Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel arrives at the Coliseum in March.



Catch a double bill of Leoni’s L’Oracolo and Giordano’s Mala Vita at Wexford this season, plus the rarely-performed Il Bravo from Saverio Mercadante. For classics, try Don Pasquale or La Fanciulla del West. Plus, opera legend Thomas Allen gives a lecture on October 20.



In Amsterdam, catch Eric Owens (Porgy) and Adina Aaron (Bess) in James Robinson’s new staging of the Gershwins’ opera, coproduced by English National Opera and the Met, or try Christof Loy’s new Tannhäuser production, featuring Daniel Kirch in the title role. 

DON'T MISS: Gaëlle Arquez in her DNO debut as the title character in Vivaldi’s Juditha Triumphans, newly staged by Floris Visser.



New productions abound at Berlin’s Deutsche Oper, from Ole Anders Tandberg’s Wozzeck, featuring Johan Reuter in the title role, paced by Donald Runnicles, to Jakop Ahlbom’s Don Quichotte staging, which stars Alex Esposito as its lead and Clémentine Margaine as Dulcinée, with Emmanuel Villaume on the podium. Over at the Komische Oper, Robert Carsen stages a new production of Die Tote Stadt, and Barrie Kosky mounts a new Bohème, paced by Jordan de Souza. For some serious star power, head to the Staatsoper for Evelyn Herlitzius (Elektra), Waltraud Meier (Klytämnestra) and René Pape (Orest) in a revival of the Patrice Chéreau staging of Elektra.

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directs a new Barbiere at Dutch National Opera, featuring original choreography from Zack Winokur and starring Davide Luciano (Figaro), René Barbera (Almaviva), Ambrogio Maestri (Bartolo) and Nino Machaidze (Rosina).
ROBERT CARSEN stages more than five new productions this season, including Die Tote Stadt at the Komische Oper, Idomeneo in Madrid (featuring Eric Cutler in the title role and David Portillo as Idamante), and the world premiere of Oceane at Deutsche Oper Berlin.
In November, AMÉLIE NIERMEYER stages a much-anticipated new production of Otello at Munich’s Bavarian State Opera; the star-studded cast has Jonas Kaufmann in the title role, Gerald Finley (Iago) and Anja Harteros (Desdemona). 


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Jonas Kaufmann, set for Otello in Munich
© Catherine Ashmore/ROH


Jonas Kaufmann headlines a star-studded new production of Otello from Amélie Niermeyer. Other new Staatsoper stagings include Andreas Dresen’s Fanciulla del West, with Anja Kampe (Minnie) and Brandon Jovanovich (Dick Johnson), paced by James Gaffigan; Krzysztof Warlikowski’s Salome, with Marlis Petersen in the title role; and Barrie Kosky’s Agrippina, with Alice Coote in the lead. 

DON'T MISS: Carlus Padrissa of La Fura dels Baus directs a new Karl V. staging, featuring Bo Skovhus in the title role.


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Anna Caterina Antonacci, Cassandre in Vienna’s Troyens
© Teatro alla Scala

Manfred Trojahn’s Orest arrives at the Staatsoper for the first time, in a new production by Marco Arturo Marelli. Plus, David McVicar’s production of Les Troyens features Brandon Jovanovich (Enée), Adam Plachetka (Chorèbe), Anna Caterina Antonacci (Cassandre) and Joyce DiDonato (Didon); and Vincent Huguet offers a new Frau ohne Schatten staging, headlined by Stephen Gould (Emperor), Camilla Nylund (Empress), Evelyn Herlitzius (Nurse), Wolfgang Koch (Barak) and Nina Stemme (Barak’s wife). 

DON'T MISS: Two world premieres, Elisabeth Naske’s children’s opera Was Ist Los Bei den Enakos and Johannes Maria Staud’s Weiden.



In Zurich, try new productions from Barrie Kosky (Die Gezeichneten), Kirill Serebrennikov (Così Fan Tutte), Robert Carsen (Hänsel und Gretel) and more. Plus, powerhouse performances abound, from Piotr Beczała as des Grieux in Floris Visser’s new Manon staging, to Bryn Terfel in the title role of Andreas Homoki’s Sweeney Todd production.



More than five new productions arrive at La Scala this season, including Davide Livermore’s Attila staging, headlined by Ildar Abdrazakov; Frederic Wake-Walker’s Ariadne, led by Krassimira Stoyanova; and David McVicar’s Masnadieri, with Michele Pertusi (Massimiliano). Plus, a double bill of revival productions Prima la Musica e Poi le Parole and Gianni Schicchi, from Nicola Raab and filmmaker Woody Allen, respectively.



At the Real, Christof Loy stages a new production of Capriccio, the first Strauss production at the house in eight years. Other new productions include Laurent Pelly’s Falstaff, featuring both Nicola Alaimo and Roberto de Candia in the title role, as well as Francisco Negrin’s Trovatore, with Ludovic Tézier (Count di Luna), Maria Agresta (Leonora) and Ekaterina Semenchuk (Azucena). 

DON'T MISS: Robert Carsen’s Idomeneo staging—also new, and in coproduction with the COC and Rome—paced by Ivor Bolton.


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Opéra National de Paris’s Tristan und Isolde
© Charles Duprat


It’s a season of new productions at the Paris Opera. Must-sees include Andreas Kriegenburg’s star-studded Huguenots staging, featuring Diana Damrau (Marguerite), Bryan Hymel (Raoul) and Ermonela Jaho (Valentine); Dmitri Tcherniakov’s Troyens with Stéphanie d’Oustrac (Cassandre), Elīna Garanča (Didon) and Hymel (Énée); and Barrie Kosky’s Prince Igor, with John Relyea in the title role and Anita Rachvelishvili (Konchakovna). At the Champs-Élysées, catch Katie Mitchell’s Ariadne auf Naxos staging, which had its premiere at this summer’s Aix festival, plus Deborah Warner’s new Traviata production.  

DON'T MISS: Philippe Jordan paces Peter Sellars’s much-admired Tristan und Isolde production, featuring Andreas Schager (Tristan), Martina Serafin (Isolde) and Matthias Goerne (Kurwenal), against the video projections of Bill Viola. spacer 

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