Tickets for the Metropolitan Opera's 2010-11 season are now on sale for members and subscribers; the general public can purchase single tickets starting on Sunday. The most tensely awaited items on the agenda are the first two installments of Robert Lepage's production of the Ring: Das Rheingold, which opens Sept. 27; and Die Walküre, which arrives on April 22. With less trepidation I am looking forward to the ridiculously belated Manhattan premiere of Nixon in China (Feb. 2) and to Nicholas Hytner's production of Don Carlo (Nov. 22). It's unfortunate that Peter Stein has withdrawn from the new Boris Godunov (Oct. 11), but the cast, led by René Pape, is formidable. Other presentations seemingly worth seeing: a Così fan tutte (Nov. 9) with William Christie in the pit; La fanciulla del West (Dec. 6), returning in time for the hundredth anniversary of its Met premiere; a Pelléas (Dec. 17) notable for the Met debut of Simon Rattle; Willy Decker's coolly sensual Traviata (Dec. 31), imported from Salzburg; Sondra Radvanovsky essaying the lead role of Tosca (Jan. 10); Andris Nelsons conducting The Queen of Spades (March 11); the first-ever Met production of Rossini's Le Comte Ory, with the starry team of Juan Diego Flórez, Joyce DiDonato, and Diana Damrau; a welcome revival of Capriccio (March 28), with Renée Fleming on her Straussian home turf; a no less welcome revival of Wozzeck (April 6); and DiDonato's local debut as the Composer in Strauss's Ariadne (May 7).
This week the Met also announced the release of grandiose CD and DVD box sets celebrating James Levine's forty years with the company. Prices are steep—$200 for the CDs, $300 for the DVDs—but the offerings are generous: twenty-two complete operas in all, including such collectible performances as a 1979 Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny with Teresa Stratas and Astrid Varnay; a 1994 Elektra with Hildegard Behrens and a bloodcurdling Brigitte Fassbaender (I heard that one recently on satellite radio and it nearly caused me to drive off the road); a 1980 Don Carlo with Renata Scotto, Sherrill Milnes, and Tatiana Troyanos; the world premieres of The Ghosts of Versailles and The Great Gatsby; Schoenberg's Moses und Aron; and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's achingly beautiful portrayal of Dido in Les Troyens. These are self-evidently performances in which Levine takes particular pride, and the achievement is indeed staggering. Let's hope the coming season finds the conductor returning to good health.