The culmination of announcement season arrived yesterday with the Metropolitan Opera’s plans for 2007-2008. Not to be outdone, New York City Opera had an announcement of its own, that Gerard Mortier, the Belgian “bad boy” formerly of Salzburg and Paris fame, will take over artistic leadership there in 2009. And suddenly, everything has changed. Probably the most staid and conservative opera town in the world seems to be throwing itself head first into something new – who knows? It may even be the future.
The latest evidence that things feel a little different to me though, came courtesy of the Met’s marketing folks who have chosen Lee Broomfeld’s lovely and sure to be oft duplicated photo of Natalie Dessay as Lucia di Lammermoor for the new season’s ads and promos. Just as Sutherland and Sills cast long shadows over the bel canto repertoire for their vocal performances, their physical presence is hard to shake as well. I can’t seem to imagine Lucia as being anything other than six foot tall, big as a house and blond or red-haired as the day is long. Who is this wispy French racoon-eyed wraith we see before us? My ears know she can sing these bel canto roles, but my eyes are having a hard time letting go of the past. Here's to looking with new eyes and hearing with new ears.