September for UI
As UI returns from his holidays and term comes mercilessly closer, the time comes to firm up a concert timetable for the year.
In New York, of course, the season does not really get going until October, when Carnegie Hall holds its gala. This year, however, the Metropolitan Opera’s scheduling means an early start, with one of the most enticing double-bills to begin a season in a while.
Opening night is taken up by Deborah Warner’s Eugene Onegin (23 September), previously seen nearly two years ago at the English National Opera. I missed it then, and was perhaps wise to, but the first cast for this long Met run ought to make up for any lack of directorial ideas. Valery Gergiev conducts, while Anna Netrebko sings Tatiana, Mariusz Kwiecien plays Onegin, and Piotr Beczala will doubtless shine as Lenski.
More important for many New Yorkers will undoubtably be James Levine’s return to the pit (24 September). The production is Lesley Koenig’s nearly two-decade old Così fan tutte, and as with his return to the concert stage the challenge for Levine will be to make the performance more memorable than the event. A somewhat lightweight cast includes Susanna Phillips and Isobel Leonard as Fiordiligi and Dorabella, Matthew Polenzani as Ferrando, and, somewhat oddly, Danielle de Niese as Despina. This production returns later in the season.
Across the Lincoln Center plaza, the New York Philharmonic also gets going early. The season begins with a Film Week, of which I’ll see 2001: A Space Odyssey (20 and 21 September). Alan Gilbert conducts the score to Kubrick’s masterpiece, which of course means an excellent excuse to hear him in the twentieth-century repertoire he manages best. There’s the obligatory opening night to attend as well (25 September), which involves a lot of Ravel, and Yo-Yo Ma playing Osvaldo Golijov’s Azul, a piece written for him and premiered with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Speaking of which, the BSO begins its season in hands at once safe and interesting. Christoph von Dohnányi remains the most penetrating of the older generation of conductors making their way around America’s subscription series, and although I won’t catch an all-Brahms programme (21 and 24 September), I will be in Massachusetts for the third of four performances of Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ symphony. Dohnányi remains an underrated Mahler conductor, and the BSO an underrated Mahler orchestra (despite Daniele Gatti’s magnificent Third last season), and Camara Tilling and Sarah Connolly promise something special.