Met Opera commissions Muhly to compose 'Marnie' for 2019-20

AP News
Posted: Feb 18, 2015 7:17 PM
Met Opera commissions Muhly to compose 'Marnie' for 2019-20

NEW YORK (AP) — The Metropolitan Opera has commissioned Nico Muhly to compose "Marnie" for its 2019-20 season, based on Winston Graham's 1961 novel that was adapted into an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

The plot centers on a woman who embezzles from her employer, gets caught and is blackmailed to marry one of her bosses.

Muhly composed "Two Boys," which debuted at the English National Opera in 2011 and appeared at the Met two years later.

The Met said Wednesday "Marnie" is a co-commission that will debut at the English National Opera in 2017.

"One of the things that intrigues me in general as a human being but also as a theatergoer is deception and hoaxes and people sort of strategically lying," Muhly said Tuesday from London. "The whole beat of the thing is her changing identities and tricking people and robbing them. There's a kind of mystery element to it."

Nicholas Wright will write the libretto. "Marnie" will be directed by Tony Award-winner Michael Mayer, who in his Met debut three years ago shifted Verdi's "Rigoletto" to 1960s Las Vegas.

Mayer suggested to Met general manager Peter Gelb that "Marnie" be adapted into an opera, and both thought it should be composed by Muhly. Mayer and Muhly worked together in 2011 on Tony Kushner's "The Illusion" at the Signature Theatre.

"It's a journey of self-knowledge," Mayer said. "This is a woman who was traumatized as a child, and she behaves in wildly inappropriate ways.'

Gelb said the current season is close to budget after $18 million in cuts achieved in labor negotiations last summer. The average ticket price at $160 reflects an average 1 percent increase next season, when the Met introduces a Fridays Under Forty initiative of 10 performances with 8 p.m. starts, tickets priced at $60 to $100 and pre-opera social events.

Next season opens Sept. 21 with a new production of Verdi's "Otello" by Bart Sher, conducted by Yannick Nezet-Seguin and starring Aleksandrs Antonenko, Sonya Yoncheva and Zeljko Lucic.

The Met completes its first presentation of Donizetti's three Tudor queens with "Roberto Devereux" on March 24, 2016. David McVicar's staging stars Sondra Radvanovsky. She also will appear in revivals of "Anna Bolena" (starting Sept. 26) and "Maria Stuarda" (opening Jan. 29), becoming the first soprano to sing all three in New York in one season since Beverly Sills at the New York City Opera in the 1970s.

There are four new-to-the-Met productions.

William Kentridge's staging of Berg's "Lulu," which opens at the Dutch National Opera on June 1, starts at the Met on Nov. 5 with music director James Levine conducting Marlis Petersen in the title role.

Bizet's "Les Pecheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers)," last seen at the Met in 1916 with Enrico Caruso, returns on Dec. 31 in Penny Woolcock's staging originally created at the English National Opera in 2010.

Kristine Opolais and Jonas Kaufmann headline Richard Eyre's production of Puccini's "Manon Lescaut" starting Feb. 12, a staging that debuted in 2014 at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden in Germany. .

Strauss' "Elektra" opens April 14 in Patrice Chereau's staging that opened at the 2013 Aix-en-Provence Festival, Chereau's last production before his death.

Levine will conduct 35 opera performances, including Johann Strauss Jr.'s "Die Fledermaus" for the first time in a revival that opens Dec. 4. A gala on May 1, 2016, will celebrate the 25th anniversary of soprano Renee Fleming's debut in March 1991.