Renée Fleming sings one of her signature roles, the elegant Countess in Richard Strauss’s Capriccio, on Great Performances at the Met Sunday, August 14 at 12 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings). Fleming had sung the demanding final scene of the opera in a gala opening the Met’s 2008-09 season, but this past season’s performances were her first time singing the full opera with the company. She has sung the Countess to wide acclaim in other venues, most recently at the Vienna State Opera in 2010. Andrew Davis, who led the Met premiere of the opera in 1998, returned to conduct its first revival.
In New York, THIRTEEN will premiere the production in primetime on Thursday, August 18 at 8 p.m with an encore presentation for the local SundayArts programming block August 21st at 12:30 p.m. The telecast was originally seen live in movie theaters on April 23, 2011 as part of the groundbreaking series, The Met: Live in HD, which transmits live performances to more than 1500 movie theaters and performing arts centers in 46 countries around the world.
Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. For more than 50 years, WNET has been producing and broadcasting national and local arts programming to the New York community.
Capriccio also stars Joseph Kaiser as the composer Flamand, Russell Braun as the poet Olivier, Sarah Connolly as Clairon, Morten Frank Larsen in his Met debut as the Count, Peter Rose as the flamboyant La Roche, and Barry Banks and Olga Makarina as a temperamental Italian tenor and soprano; all are making Met role debuts.
In Capriccio, Strauss uses the romantic indecision of the widowed Countess—who is pursued by both a composer and a poet—as the opportunity for a sophisticated, breezy examination of aesthetics. The Countess wonders which is more important to musical drama: the music or the written word? The opera’s supporting characters, including the actress Clairon, the stage director La Roche, and the Countess’s love-struck brother, amplify and explore this central artistic question.
The New York Times, reviewing the current revival, said Fleming “sang splendidly… [her] voice was plush and alluring; her phrasing noble…the performance over all, sensitively conducted by Andrew Davis and featuring a winning cast, made an excellent case for this Strauss curiosity.” The Associated Press added “[Fleming’s] performance has a grace and charisma that are quite winning…bringing to life the poignant dilemma of a woman who must choose between two suitors and in doing so pronounce a verdict on their art.”
John Cox’s production, which updates the setting to the twentieth century, was created for the opera’s 1998 Met premiere. The staging features sets by Mauro Pagano, interior décor and costume design by Robert Perdziola, and lighting design by Duane Schuler.
Joyce DiDonato, star of the Met’s hit new production of Le Comte Ory, also seen on Great Performances at the Met this summer, is the host for Capriccio. Gary Halvorson directs the transmission and Jay David Saks is music producer.
Great Performances is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and Joseph A. Wilson. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®.
For the Met, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.