In a star-studded event, the Met’s 2007–08 season opened last night (Monday September, 24th ) with the premiere of a new production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, directed by Tony Award-winner Mary Zimmerman and conducted by James Levine. French soprano Natalie Dessay starred as the doomed title heroine, Marcello Giordani sang her lover Edgardo and Mariusz Kwiecien could be heard in the role of her brother Enrico.
Among the celebrities from the worlds of theater, film, music, and politics who were greeted with cheers and applause by the assembled crowd were actresses Jane Fonda, Blythe Danner, Rachel Weisz, and Mary-Louise Parker, directors James Ivory, Anthony Minghella (whose production of Madama Butterfly opened the last Met season), Bartlett Sher (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Jack O’Brien (Il Trittico), and Adrian Noble (whose Met Macbeth has its premiere on October 22), actors Willem Dafoe and Bob Balaban, TV personalities Barbara Walters, Walter Cronkite, and Charlie Rose, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Met Board member Mercedes Bass, fashion designer Calvin Klein, singer Debbie Harry, and opera stars Anna Netrebko, Maria Guleghina, and Plácido Domingo.
From the stage inside the Met, Peter Gelb greeted the audience and announced that the performance would be dedicated to the memory of legendary soprano Beverly Sills (herself a former Met Lucia) who passed away this spring. From the moment the curtain went up on Daniel Ostling’s gorgeous Act I set, audiences were captivated by the drama unfolding on stage. The thunderous applause after Lucia and Edgardo’s love duet that closes the act had hardly died down when intermission host Mary Jo Heath welcomed Zimmerman, Ostling, and costume designer Mara Blumenfeld on the opera house’s Grand Tier for a live interview.
In a tribute to Sills and Luciano Pavarotti, images of the two artists in their numerous Met appearances flashed across the screens in and outside the opera house during both intermissions. If audiences had been thrilled by what they were hearing and seeing during the first two acts, Natalie Dessay’s performance of the notorious Mad Scene in Act III brought the excitement to a whole new level, with the applause stopping the show for several minutes. After the final curtain had come down, the soloists and creative team took extra bows on the balcony of the Met’s Grand Tier, where they were cheered by the plaza audience.
The performance was transmitted live to Lincoln Center Plaza and to Times Square.
Text/Source: Metropolitan Opera