Jonas Kaufmann, Marina Poplavskaya, and René Pape in New Production of Gounod’s Faust on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances at the Met, Sunday, May 13 at 12 p.m. on PBS stations
Director Des McAnuff in Met debut, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting the classic opera for the first time at the Met
Three of the opera world’s leading stars—Jonas Kaufmann, Marina Poplavskaya, and René Pape—sing the principal roles in a new production of Gounod’s Faust, directed by Tony Award winner Des McAnuff in his Met debut. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts his first Met performances of the opera, which airs on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances at the Met Sunday, May 13 at 12 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). In New York, THIRTEEN will premiere the program Thursday, May 10 at 8:30 p.m. with an encore presentation Sunday, May 13 at 12:30 p.m.
The program was originally seen live in movie theaters on December 10 as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 1700 movie theaters and performing arts centers in 54 countries around the world.
Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. For nearly 50 years, WNET has been producing and broadcasting national and local arts programming to the New York community.
Kaufmann makes his Met role debut as the title character, and Poplavskaya makes hers as Faust’s love interest and eventual victim, Marguerite; Pape returns to one of his greatest Met roles, the wicked tempter Méphistophélès. French-Canadian mezzo-soprano Michèle Losier makes her house role debut as the student Siébel and Russell Braun makes his in the role of Marguerite’s soldier brother, Valentin.
McAnuff is a Tony Award winner for Big River and The Who’s Tommy and the Artistic Director of Canada’s prestigious Stratford Shakespeare Festival. His production of Faust, a co-production with the English National Opera, where it premiered last season, sets the action in the mid-20th century, with Faust as a nuclear scientist who sees the terrible effects of his life’s work and longs to return to a simpler time. The main part of the opera takes place in a flashback to an earlier part of the 20th century, with the plot unfolding in the moments before Faust dies from drinking a fatal potion.
Gounod’s opera has been a staple of the Met’s repertory since 1883, when it was the first opera ever presented at the old Metropolitan Opera House.
When this production premiered last November, Associated Press enthused: “Exceptional work by a fine cast of singing actors led by tenor Jonas Kaufmann, soprano Marina Poplavskaya and bass René Pape…their performances, sharply directed by Des McAnuff, guaranteed that Gounod’s opera came across as serious and even gripping theater. And rarely has the score sounded more captivating than in the rhapsodic account by the Met orchestra under the guidance of the young conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin.”
Nézet-Séguin, the Music Director Designate of the Philadelphia Orchestra, had two previous Met engagements: the new productions of Bizet’s Carmen (2009) and Verdi’s Don Carlo (2010), both broadcast on Great Performances at the Met. Kaufmann is currently one of the world’s most in-demand tenors, starring in a varied repertory that has included Met performances of Siegmund in Wagner’s Die Walküre (2011 new production), Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca, Don José in Carmen, Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata, and Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. In October, he became the first Met artist since Luciano Pavarotti (in 1984) to sing a solo recital from the Met stage, and this spring, he will reprise his Siegmund in complete Ring cycles.
Last season, Poplavskaya received critical praise for her singing and acting in two Met role debuts. She sang Elisabeth de Valois in the new production of Don Carlo, also seen on Great Performances at the Met, and she also starred as Violetta in Willy Decker’s staging of La Traviata. Pape, whose last Met engagement was as King Philip to Poplavskaya’s Elisabeth on the Japan tour, sang Méphistophélès in the Met’s 2004-05 season. Last season, he starred in the title role of a new production of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov (seen on Great Performances at the Met).
McAnuff’s design team for Faust includes two Tony nominees in their Met debuts: scenic designer Robert Brill and costume designer Paul Tazewell. Peter Mumford, whose work at the Met includes Madama Butterfly, Carmen, and Peter Grimes, designed the lighting for the production. Choreographer Kelly Devine and video designer Sean Nieuwenhuis also made their Met debuts with this production.
Mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato hosts. Barbara Willis Sweete directs the telecast.
Major funding for the telecast is provided by M. Beverly and Robert G. Bartner. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®. This Great Performances presentation is funded by the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation.
For the Met, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.
Visit Great Performances online at www.pbs.org/gperf for additional information on this and other Great Performances programs.
New York’s WNET is America’s flagship public media outlet, bringing quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. The parent company of public television stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET produces such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Noah Comprende and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and the new online newsmagazine MetroFocus.
About the Met
Under the leadership of General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine, the Met has a series of bold initiatives underway that are designed to broaden its audience and revitalize the company’s repertory. The Met has made a commitment to presenting modern masterpieces alongside the classic repertory, with highly theatrical productions featuring the greatest opera stars in the world. The Met’s 2011-12 season features seven new productions, including: the world premiere of The Enchanted Island, a Baroque pastiche with an original libretto by Jeremy Sams set to the music of Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and others; the Met premiere of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena directed by David McVicar; and the final two installments of Wagner’s epic Der Ring des Nibelungen, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, directed by Robert Lepage and conducted by Maestro Levine. The first complete performances of the new Ring cycle are scheduled for April and May 2012. The season also features new productions of three repertory classics by outstanding directors—Mozart’s Don Giovanni by Michael Grandage, Gounod’s Faust by Des McAnuff, and Massenet’s Manon by Laurent Pelly.
Building on its 81-year-old radio broadcast history—heard over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network—the Met uses advanced media distribution platforms and state-of-the-art technology to reach audiences around the world. The Met: Live in HD, the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series of live performance transmissions to movie theaters around the world, returns for its sixth season in 2011-12. The series of 11 transmissions begins October 15 with Anna Bolena and ends with La Traviata on April 14. The Met recently introduced Met Player, a new subscription service that makes much of its extensive video and audio catalog of full-length performances available to the public for the first time online, and in exceptional, state-of-the-art quality. Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM broadcasts live performances from the Met stage three times a week during the opera season, as well; the Met on Rhapsody on-demand service offers audio recordings; and the Met presents free live audio streaming of performances on its website once every week during the opera season.
The Met has launched several audience development initiatives, including Open House dress rehearsals, a popular rush ticket program, Gallery Met, and an annual Holiday Series presentation for families. For more information, please visit: www.metopera.org.