Culture Magazine

The Five Levels of the Metropolitan Opera Season

By Superconductor @ppelkonen
Breaking down the 2013-14 season by degree of difficulty.
by Paul J. Pelkonen

The Five Levels of the Metropolitan Opera Season

Nathan Gunn seeks advice in a scene from The Magic Flute.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2013 The Metropolitan Opera. Captions by the author.

Attending a performance--even a bad one--at the Metropolitan Opera is an amazing experience. But for a lot of first-timers, the idea of attending any opera at all is off-putting, intimidating, maybe even elitist. It takes  money to afford a night out at the Met--if the average $100 ticket prices don't get you, the tiny sandwiches ($13 last season, probably going up this year will.
Given the high ticket prices at the MEt t takes some commitment to stand for two hours on the Met's basement rush line; perseverance to endure the so-called "Family Circle Balance"--all that is left of the house's once budget-priced seats up at the very tippy top-and-back of the seven-level auditorium.
So with all that in mind, here's a quick re-organization of this year's Metropolitan Opera season, with the links to this year's Superconductor Metropolitan Opera Previews broken down into Beginner's, Easy, Advanced Hard, and Elite levels. Hopefully, it might provide some guidance as you work your way into the wonderful (not to mention obsessive and quite possibly expensive) world of the opera.

The Beginner's Level: Good first-time operas, including the Met's abbreviated "holiday" version of The Magic Flute and the Johann Strauss operetta Die Fledermaus.
  • Rigoletto opens Nov. 11
  • The Magic Flute opens Dec. 16
  • Die Fledermaus (new production) opens Dec. 31 with a special gala performance.
  • L'Elisir d'Amore opens January 9, 2014
  • La bohéme opens Jan. 14, 2014.
  • Madama Butterfly opens January 16.
Easy: Common repertory, universal stories. All of these are well-known, classic operas.
  • Così fan tutte opens Sept. 24
  • Norma opens Sept. 30.
  • Tosca opens Oct. 29
  • Der Rosenkavalier opens Nov. 22
  • La Cenerentola opens April 21, 2014.
Advanced: The next level up--rarely heard but compelling operas that are still good for beginners.
  • Eugene Onegin (new production) opens Sept. 23
  • Falstaff (new production) opens Nov. 6
  • Werther (new production) opens Feb. 18
  • Andrea Chénier opens March 24.
  • I Puritani opens April 17, 2014.
Elite: Complex music, unusual languages. Some awesome productions.

  • The Nose opens Sept. 28
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream opens Oct. 11
  • The Enchanted Island opens Feb. 26
  • La Sonnambula opens March 14
  • Arabella opens April 3, 2014

Expert: Modern operas, obscure repertory, difficult plots, unusual productions. (In other words, what we here at Superconductor are rally excited about.)
  • Two Boys (new production, United States premiere) opens Oct. 21
  • Die Frau ohne Schattenopens Nov. 7
  • Rusalka opens Jan. 23.
  • Prince Igor (new production) opens Feb. 6
  • Wozzeck opens March 6.

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