First Posted: Sep 17, 2012 01:25 PM EDT

A still of soprano Anna Netrebko as part of the Metropolitan Opera's promotion for their new production of "L'Elisir D'Amore" which opens the 2012-13 season on September 24. (Photo : Metropolitan Opera)

Next Monday, the Metropolitan Opera begins its 129th season with its yearly pomp and circumstance, but will also throw in a little grace and charm into the proceedings. For the first time during General Manager Peter Gelb's tenure at the Met, the opera company will initiate their season with a comedy.

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Gaetano Donizetti's "L' Elisir D'Amore" will show off a new production by Bartlett Sher and will star Russian soprano Anna Netrebko in her second straight opening night at the illustrious house. She will be supported by tenor Matthew Polenzani, baritone Mariusz Kwiecien, and bass Ambrogio Maestri. The opera will run through October 13 and will be broadcast live around the world in movie theaters as part of the Met's Emmy award winning series Live in HD. The production returns for four more productions on January 30, February 2, 6, and 9.

After Elisir the Met will also showcase a total of six other new productions from the standard repertoire and even a few Met premieres. On October 23rd, the Met will showcase Thomas Ades' "The Tempest" for the first time on its stage in a production by acclaimed director Robert LePage. "The Tempest" is an opera based on Shakespeare's play of the same name and includes a stellar cast headlined by baritone Simon Keenlyside, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, tenor Alek Shrader, and Toby Spence among others. The entire run, which goes until November 17th, will be conducted by the composer himself. The opera will also be part of the Live in HD series on November 10.

The Met will also premiere a new production of Giuseppe Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera" as part of the Met's celebration of the composer's bicentennial. Ballo will get an updated treatment by director David Alden who will direct his first work at the Met. He will count on the support of a stellar cast that includes tenor Marcelo Alvarez, baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and soprano Sondra Radvanovsky. The story of love and betrayal premieres on November 8 and runs through December 14 with an HD broadcast on the 8th of December.

On New Year's Eve, the Met will host its traditional gala in celebration of the New Year. They will premiere the company's first ever production of Donizetti's "Maria Stuarda" starring mezzo-soprano and Met favorite Joyce DiDonato. The production will be directed by Met veteran David McVicar and will run through Janaury 26. The opera, which tells the tragedy of Mary Quuen of Scots, will be broadcast in HD on January 19th.

The Met then turns back to Verdi in a new production by TV producer and director Michael Mayer of the classic "Rigoletto." The tale of the cursed outsider will be set in Las Vegas and will star Zeljko Lucic in the title role. As his daughter Gilda, audiences will hear superstar soprano Diana Damrau and stepping into the role of the conniving Duke will be Piotr Beczala. Another cast will feature George Gagnidze in the title role with Lisette Oropeza and Vittorio Grigolo in the roles of Gilda and the Duke. Verdi's middle period masterpiece will premiere on Jauary 28 and run until February 23rd with an HD broadcast on the 16th of February. The second cast takes over on April 13 and performs all the way until May 1.

The Met will also celebrate the bicentennial of Richard Wagner's birth with a new production of the composer's final work "Parsifal." The new production will be directed by Francois Girard and will star superstar tenor Jonas Kaufman as the "Pure Fool." The production also includes superstars Rene Pape, Katarina Dalayman, and Peter Mattei. It will run from February 15 through March 8 and will also be broadcast around the world on March 2nd.

Geroge Frideric Handel's "Giulio Cesare" will be the final new production to premiere at the Met this season. McVicar returns as director of his highly successful production of the classic tale of the conqueror and his Egyptian Mistress Cleopatra. Natalie Dessay and David Daniels will star while baroque specialist Harry Bicket will conduct. The production premieres on April 4 and runs until May 10. It will be broadcast on HD on April 27th.

Other highlights of the Met season include three cycles of Wagner's Ring in a production by LePage. They will also showcase an additional five HD broadcasts of past productions including Verdi's "Aida," Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "La Clemenza di Tito," Riccardo Zandonai's "Francesca da Rimini," Verdi's "Otello," Hector Berlioz's "Les Troyens."

Other classics returning to the Met include George Bizet's "Carmen," Gioachino Rossini's "Le Comte Ory" and "The Barber of Seville," Francois Poulenc's rarely performed "Dialogues des Carmelites," "Mozart's Da Ponte operas "Don Giovanni" and "Le Nozze di Figaro," and Charles Gounod's "Faust." Giacomo Puccini classics such as "La Rondine" and "Turandot" will also be performed on the Met stage.

As part of the Verdi celebration the company will also showcase a slew of Verdi classics such as "La Traviata," "Il Trovatore," and "Don Carlo."

For more information, check the Metropolitan Opera's website.



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