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Salonen, Domingo part of Metropolitan Opera's next season

February 10, 2009 |  2:23 pm

Esabig In April, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and its admirers will bid a sad farewell to music director Esa-Pekka Salonen, who after 17 seasons is passing the baton to Gustavo Dudamel. But come November, Salonen seems likely to receive a glad welcome at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

In announcing its new season today, the Met confirmed that Salonen will be making his company debut next fall conducting Leos Janácek’s "From the House of the Dead" in a production, already much praised in Europe, that some worried might fall victim to the economic downturn. Director Patrice Chéreau will be making his Met debut with the production as well.

Also of special interest to Angelenos on the Met schedule: Los Angeles Opera general director Plácido Domingo, who achieved his fame as a tenor but has long said he wanted to return to his baritone roots at the end of his career, will sing the title role -- one of Verdi's greatest for baritone -- in a revival of "Simon Boccanegra."

Among the other highlights of the season, which includes eight new productions and 18 revivals: Karita Mattila performing the title role in "Tosca," the season opener, for the first time outside her native Finland, in a production directed by Luc Bondy; Verdi's "Attila" with costumes and sets by fashion darling Miuccia Prada collaborating with star architects Herzog & de Meuron; soprano Angela Gheorghiu tackling "Carmen" for the first time in a new staging by theater veteran Richard ("Mary Poppins") Eyre; and a new production of French composer Ambroise Thomas' "Hamlet," from 1868, starring Simon Keenlyside as the prince of Denmark and Natalie Dessay as his Ophélie.

Fans who loved the Broadway revival of "South Pacific," meanwhile, will be cheered by the news that one of its stars, Tony-winning baritone Paulo Szot ...

... will be making his Met debut in Shostakovich's "The Nose" conducted by Valery Gergiev.

And local opera aficionados worried about tenor Rolando Villazón, fondly remembered for his appearances with L.A. Opera in "Romeo and Juliet," "Manon" and "La Traviata," will be heartened that he is scheduled to join frequent partner Anna Netrebko in a new production of  Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann." Bartlett Sher, who also won a Tony for "South Pacific," will direct.

Just last week, a cold forced Villazón to drop out of the Met's high-definition broadcast of "Lucia di Lammermoor" to theaters around the world, and in December 2007 he pulled out of a company HDTV presentation of "Romeo and Juliet." But he is scheduled for a "Hoffmann" broadcast Dec. 19. (UPDATE: An earlier version of this post omitted the year of the "Romeo and Juliet" broadcast.)

All told, the Met plans nine such broadcasts next season, including a "Tosca," a "Carmen," a "Boccanegra" and a "Hamlet."

-- Craig Fisher

Photo: Esa-Pekka Salonen. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times