New York, NY (September 6, 2018)—The Metropolitan Opera will open its 134th season on Monday, September 24, with a new production of Saint-Saëns’s biblical tragedy Samson et Dalila, conducted by Sir Mark Elder and starring Elīna Garanča and Roberto Alagna, last seen together at the Met in acclaimed performances of Bizet’s Carmen. Laurent Naouri co-stars as the High Priest opposite Elchin Azizov as the Philistine King Abimélech and Dmitry Belosselskiy as the Old Hebrew. Making his Met debut, Tony Award-winner Darko Tresnjak directs the first new Met production of the opera in 20 years. The opening performance will be simulcast live to Times Square, and the October 20 matinee will be seen throughout the world, as part of The Met: Live in HD series.
Tresnjak is joined by his regular collaborators also making their Met debuts, set designer Alexander Dodge and costume designer Linda Cho, with whom he has created dozens of shows over the past two decades, including the Broadway hit A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Lighting designer Donald Holder and choreographer Austin McCormick complete the creative team. Later in the season, beginning March 13, Elder will return to the podium to lead Anita Rachvelishvili and Aleksandrs Antonenko as the title characters, with Tomasz Konieczny and Günther Groissböck joining the cast as Abimélech and the Old Hebrew, respectively.
Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča sings her first Met opening night and makes her company role debut as Dalila, a role she debuted at Wiener Staatsoper last season opposite Roberto Alagna. After making her Met debut in 2008 as Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, she has starred as Angelina in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Sesto in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, the title role of Bizet’s Carmen, and Sara in the Met premiere of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux. She was most recently at the Met in the 2016-17 season as Octavian in the Live in HD production of Der Rosenkavalier alongside Renée Fleming and at the Met’s 50th Anniversary at Lincoln Center Gala, where she sang Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix, the most famous aria from Samson et Dalila. Other recent opera credits include Eboli in Verdi’s Don Carlos at Opéra National de Paris, Santuzza in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and the title role of Bizet’s Carmen at Bayerische Staatsoper.
Roberto Alagna makes his Met role debut as Samson, which he has sung to acclaim at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and Wiener Staatsoper. The French tenor made his Met debut as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème in 1996, and his many other roles with the company include his role debut as des Grieux in a new production of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, the title role of Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac, Don José in Bizet’s Carmen, Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca, Radamès in Verdi’s Aida, and Turridu and Canio in the Met’s double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci. He will be seen later this season at the Met as Don José in Bizet’s Carmen, alongside his wife, Aleksandra Kurzak, as Micaëla.
French bass-baritone Laurent Naouri has previously sung the High Priest at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. He made his company debut in 2012 as Sharpless in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Last season, he was seen as the Four Villians in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Capulet in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, and Pandolfe in Massenet’s Cendrillon, which was seen around the world as a part of The Met: Live in HD program.
Azerbaijan’s Elchin Azizov makes his role debut as Abimélech. He made his Met debut in 2015 as Ibn-Hakia in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, a role he will reprise later this season at the Met. He has recently sung a number of roles with the Bolshoi, including Giorgio Germont in Verdi’s La Traviata, Lescaut in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen, and Rodrigo in Verdi’s Don Carlo. Recent opera credits include the title role of Verdi’s Macbeth at Festival d’Opéra, Lyon, Carlo Gérard in Giordano’s Andrea Chénier at the Hungarian State Opera, and Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca at Ópera Nacional de Chile.
Dmitry Belosselskiy makes his role debut as The Old Hebrew. The Russian bass made his Met debut in 2011 as Zaccaria in Verdi’s Nabucco. Since then with the company, he has sung Ramfis in Aida, the Old Convict in Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, de Silva in Ernani, and Wurm in Verdi’s Luisa Miller. In addition to Samson et Dalila, he will be seen in the Live in HD performance of Verdi’s Aida as Ramfis. Later this season he will be seen as the Commendatore in Mozart’s Don Giovanni and in the return of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen as Fafner in Das Rheingold, Hunding in Die Walküre, and Fafner in Siegfried.
Sir Mark Elder has been Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra since 2000. The British conductor was formerly Music Director of English National Opera and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the London Mozart Players. He has conducted at numerous opera houses around the world including Paris Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dutch National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, English National Opera, and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden. He made his Met debut in 1988 leading Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and has conducted multiple productions with the company, including Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera and Otello, Boito’s Mefistofele, Wagner’s Tannhäuser, Dvořák’s Rusalka, and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.
American Darko Tresnjak, the artistic director of Hartford Stage, will make his Met debut directing Samson et Dalila. He received the 2014 Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his direction of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. He also received the 2015 Obie Award for his direction of The Killer. Other recent productions include John Corigliano’s The Ghost of Versailles and Verdi’s Macbeth at LA Opera, The Merchant of Venice at Theatre for a New Audience and the Royal Shakespeare Company, Rear Window at Hartford Stage, This Ain’t No Disco for Atlantic Theater Company, and Anastasia on Broadway. He has also directed at the Public Theater, Old Globe, Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Huntington Theatre Company, Goodspeed Opera, Long Wharf Theatre, Westport Country Playhouse, and Vineyard Theater.
The production of Samson et Dalila is made possible by a generous gift from the Gramma Fisher Foundation, Marshalltown, Iowa, and H.M. Agnes Hsu-Tang, PhD. and Oscar Tang. Additional funding is provided by The Walter and Leonore Annenberg Endowment Fund, and William R. Miller.
Live Opening Night Screening in Times Square
On September 24, the Samson et Dalila premiere will be transmitted live to Times Square. The opera will begin at 6:00 p.m., preceded by pre-taped content previewing the upcoming Met season at 5:30p.m. Attendance is free and no tickets are required. Seats will be available on a first-come first-served basis in Times Square at Military Island (between 43rd and 44th Streets) and at Duffy Square (between 46th and 47th Streets), with additional standing room available at both locations.
The Times Square relay of the Opening Night Gala is presented in cooperation with the City of New York and the Times Square Alliance. The participating screens in Times Square include ABC SuperSign, American Eagle Times Square, Bank of America Times Square, Branded Cities Network (Reuters Sign and Nasdaq Tower), City Outdoor, Clear Channel Spectacolor HD 126, 127, and 128, and Jamestown One Times Square.
The live transmission to Times Square is made possible with the cooperation of the City of New York, with leadership support provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Additional funding is provided by the Metropolitan Opera Guild and Opera News. This program is also supported, in part, by the Howard Gilman Foundation and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. The simulcast is presented in partnership with the Times Square Alliance.
Samson et Dalila Radio Broadcasts and Live in HD
The October 20 matinee performance of Samson et Dalila will be transmitted live around the world at 1:00 p.m. The transmission will be seen in more than 2,000 movie theaters in 73 countries around the world.
The September 24, October 9, October 16, and March 23 performances of Samson et Dalila will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM Channel 75, and the September 24 performance will also be streamed live on the Met’s web site, www.metopera.org.