Maestro Riccardo Muti knows well the importance of the event: In his 40+ years of conducting for the world's biggest orchestras and symphonies, the 69-year-old Italian conductor will shortly be making his Metropolitan Opera premiere, gifting NYC's Verdi & opera-loving masses with Verdi's Attila. The opera opens on February 23, and Muti will conduct seven replications before handing over the baton to Marco Armiliato for the final three. Muti has also announced (to the Italian newspapers anyway) that although this Attila will mark his Metropolitan Opera debut, it will also be his final performance with the Met. Catch him while you can...
Muti will be buttressed by some of the most talented names in their respective industries: Italian fashion designer Miuccia Prada dresses the singers while Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron dress the stage (they're also billed for costume design in tandem with Miuccia). Production is by Pierre Audi, artistic director of the Netherlands Opera, who joins all the names listed above in their Metropolitan Opera debuts.
So how does this stellar team make glamorous the gloom & doom of mid-fifth century nomadic barbarians? With Muiccia at the helm, she keeps at bay the shadows. She made the fearsome Huns gnarly without sinking them into a monochromatic mire by adding bits of steampunk and kick-a$$, rock n' roll, biker elements -- brass bolts, black leather fringe, edgy metal studs, glistening black feathers, and twinkling tiaras -- all make a texture-rich, visually dynamic opera. We like to call it ~biker chic~ done with Italian style and sophistication. In addition to Miuccia, we see lots of Alexander Wang and Rick Owens biker staples, all without the unfortunate leather chaps or denim shorts.
If none of that makes an impression on the blasé, seen-it-all, serious NYC businessman, Attila is one of ten Verdi operas that's never before been seen on the Metroplitan Opera stage. How's that for exclusive? The production stars Ildar Abdrazakov as Attila, Violeta Urmana as Odabella, Ramón Vargas as Foresto, Carlos Alvarez as Ezio, and Samuel Ramey as Pope Leo.
Now for more of the exclusive photos -- all photos taken during a dress rehearsal on February 15, 2010 at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City by Ken Howard.
~Hold onto your Huns~!
(Above: Verdi's Attila, Detail of Carlos Alvarez as Ezio. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)