By Francisco Salazar ( | First Posted: Sep 23, 2013 09:40 AM EDT

Anna Netrebko as Tatiana and Mariusz Kwiecien as the title character of Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin."
(Photo : Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

On Sept. 23 the Metropolitan Opera will inaugurate its 2013-14 season with Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin," starring Anna Netrebko, Maurisz Kwiecien and Piotr Beczala. Valery Gergiev will conduct Deborah Warner's new production directed by Fiona Shaw.

"Onegin" tells the story of a selfish nobleman whose life changes after rejecting a young woman's love and inciting a fatal duel with his best friend.

The opera was last performed at the Met in 2009 in Robert Carsen's beloved production. The new production marks the first time a soprano headlines the opening night three times in a row. Netrebko opened the last two Met seasons in Donizetti's "Anna Bolena" and "L'Elisir d'Amore."

The performance will also mark the first time Netrebko sings in her native language since her debut in 2002 in Prokofiev's "War and Peace." It also marks the second time Gergiev and the soprano collaborate together at the Met.

This year's opening night is also one of the first times the Met season has been plagued with controversy and hardships. Warner, who was originally supposed to direct the production, was forced to cancel leaving Shaw in charge of the production. However, Shaw was unable to oversee the complete rehearsal schedule as she had commitments with the Glyndebourne opera.

Additionally, the LGBT community has petitioned to get Netrebko and Gergiev fired from the company because the two artists supported Russian President Vladimir Putin, and to have the performance dedicated to the LGBT community in Russia. However, general manager Peter Gelb declined, stating that it was inappropriate for an opera house to become political.

Gelb expects picketing to occur during the opening night, but the show will go on. The opening night is expected to attract a number of Hollywood and opera celebrities who will walk the red carpet. Additionally the performance will be transmitted to Times Square and Lincoln Center Plaza. It will also be transmitted on Sirius and the Metropolitan Opera radio,

Performances of "Eugene Onegin" will run through Oct. 19, with the Oct. 5 performance being transmitted in Live in HD in movie theaters around the world. On Nov. 23, the opera will be revived with Peter Mattei, Marina Poplavskaya and Rolando Villazon in the lead roles.

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