For those of you who do not know, the Met Opera Shop, which specializes in selling anything even remotely related to opera has been recently remodeled. Soprano Renee Fleming will be there from 12:30 to 2:00 pm Friday, December 12th to sign copies of her latest recording, Richard Strauss' Vier Letzte Lieder, or Four Last Songs as it is translated into English. On their website the Met has a headline announcing Fleming's future presence as an opportunity to meet the star diva, and if all of the reports given by Leah in her Opera_luvr blog are to be credited as true, then it will surely be a chance to do so and one not to be missed. Excepting that I live almost 1,500 miles away, I would most certainly go; however, since I am forced by the great expanse of distance to remain where I am, I hope that some blogger will go and meet her and write about their experience.
Today the Met plans to light their Christmas Tree on the balcony of their beloved opera house. The Met's Children's Chorus will be on hand to sing Christmas carols, as will be the members of the Met Orchestra's brass section, with their instruments, of course, to "spread holiday cheer," as the news portion of their website reads. Sheet music will be provided for all of those who will be waiting to sing along, and hot chocolate shall be offered to those braving what surely must be cold temperatures in New York by this late in the year courtesy of Patina. Someone please comment as to what sort of entity Patina is, for through my ignorance I cannot divine what it is. The tree, a stately, magnificent blue spruce donated by the Met's current General Manager, Peter Gelb, and his wife Keri-Lynn Wilson, stands twenty-eight feet tall and will be decorated by the Met's electrical and scenery departments. This tree replaces the usual Lincoln Center tree at least for opera aficionados due to construction on the Plaza.
In the realm of performances, controversial Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa returns to the Met podium after a number of years to conduct Pyotr Illych Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades. (An idle thought: does that title not sound just a little like Prokofiev's The Gambler? I was just wondering.) Some herald this as an artistic level of excellence while some of Ozawa's and the Met's harsher critics proclaim this as mediocrity. Some even go so far as to say that the Met, in all of its greatness and glory is a second-rate opera house now. In other words, to use a symbolism, it is becoming what McDonald's is to food connoisseurs. I cry a hearty not so to such remarks.
Since we are talking about the Met, I was wondering if anyone knew what has happened to soprano Ruth Ann Swenson. I looked her up on Wikipedia, and the author of the article said she is singing in La Traviata at the Met in 2008. If this is indeed truth, and one would hope so however so foolish a hope it were, it is news to me, and I make it a special point to have knowledge of the current Met season's roster. So far as I know, Ms. Swenson, whom I liked in the Met's production of Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore, is not singing anymore. Does anyone have any further information on the subject?