This afternoon the MET got a much needed shot in the arm as it hosted the debut of a rising opera star: Erika Sunnegardh, who assumed the title role in Beethoven's Fidelio, replacing Karita Mattila who is ill. The MET really needed this kind of an event. There has not been so much excitement generated by a debut at the MET since Roberto Alagna debuted here as Rodolfo in La Boheme back in 1996.
It's been a bad year at the MET no matter how you look at it. Sales have been weak, attendance poor, and although there have been some artistic highlights thus far in the season (this production of Fidelio being one of them), and promising productions later on to follow (Lohengrin and Parsifal), it has been a disappointing opera season in New York City. Of course, James Levine's unfortunate injury, which has sidelined him for the rest of the season, was the last straw. Joseph Volpe will never forget his last year at the MET.
But back to Ms. Sunnegardh: her exciting debut, which was sparked by a wonderful article in the New York Times this morning, went well for her, but not without a hitch, as apparently she got lost during during the first act. Her nerves must have been working overtime knowing that potentially millions of picky opera lovers were listening to the broadcast. I am looking forward to listening to a recording of the broadcast next week.
She is in good company, though: the following singers all made their MET debuts in a broadcast: Jan Peerce, Bidú Sayao, Kirsten Flagstad. Gwyneth Jones, Hermann Prey, and Alan Titus.