Written by By Kirsten Andersen, CNN New York, Contributors, Elisa Long, Contributors
Award-winning jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard will conduct the New York Metropolitan Opera in a special performance this coming season.
The acclaimed musician will take charge of a special new production of Mozart’s classic “The Marriage of Figaro,” which opens on April 16 and runs for a few weeks through May 12.
The performance will be Blanchard’s first opera. It was not clear whether he will use a song list, but he told a Times of London news report: “If we do a wide variety of stuff, we should have as much fun as possible doing it. I think it’s a lot of fun.”
Blanchard is no stranger to Met Opera audiences — as the managing conductor of the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra, he participated in several years of performances. He joined the Met as associate conductor last year, taking over for the legendary Tito Munoz . Munoz died in April from complications related to leukemia.
The play on Bach and opera
Blanchard was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1960 and is considered one of the greatest jazz trumpeters of his generation. He formed his current ensemble, The Terence Blanchard Quartet, in 1999 and has since collaborated with various artists from Roger Waters and Stevie Wonder to André 3000 and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
This new performance comes on the heels of an appearance earlier this year in Matthew Bourne’s production of Richard Wagner’s “The Ring of the Nibelung,” in which Blanchard conducted music inspired by Wagner’s own works. The show ran from March 23 through April 21 at the Auditorium Theatre.
On September 29, the Metropolitan Opera announced the appointment of general manager Peter Gelb as its 20th director, and in a departure from the norm, he chose to shake up the organization’s existing lineup of leaders — including some who have been in the position for decades.
The biggest production change at the Met, however, was the announcement that James Levine would be stepping down as conductor in the fall of 2019, at the end of his current contract.
Mozart, alive and well
Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” is considered one of the most popular operas in the world.
Eli Brown, a professor at the New England Conservatory of Music, says there is a desire among audiences to revisit the work and to experience “a more modern version of the classic — the modern take on one of the all-time greatest operas.”
According to Brown, these performances are “trying to mix things up — if you want to do contemporary productions, you don’t have to just focus on Ring so you can have more of the Mozart repertoire.”
“There are some different techniques than standard productions of Mozart — it’s more jazz, it’s more pop,” he adds.
The Met’s “The Marriage of Figaro” will run through May 12. Credit: Jay Maidment/Rex/Shutterstock
The Met’s General Director Peter Gelb spoke about the excitement and uncertainty the company has faced in a recently released statement.
“Although many challenges remain, I am confident that the major projects which are in the works and the strong talent we have in our ranks can ensure that the Met maintains its position at the forefront of the world’s opera houses,” Gelb said.
Gelb also spoke of the opportunities ahead for Met audiences — including the recently announced creation of the Met Magic Ballroom and a new jazz series with Blanchard, and the company’s upcoming production of Bizet’s “Carmen.”
“These moves, as well as our ongoing developments, demonstrate that we will continue to innovate and experiment with the ways in which we present our world-class and award-winning productions for the benefit of our audiences,” Gelb said.