The Metropolitan Opera Unveils Next Season's Lineup

TWO early Verdi rarities, "Stiffelio" and "I Lombardi," and Dvorak's fairy-tale opera "Rusalka" will be performed for the first time at New York's Metropolitan Opera next season.

The company will open its 30-week season on Sept. 27 with a gala performance starring tenors Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo to celebrate the 25th anniversaries of their Met debuts.

Other operas receiving new productions are Benjamin Britten's "Death in Venice" and Verdi's "Otello," the company has announced.

"Stiffelio" will premiere on Oct. 28, conducted by Met artistic director James Levine and starring Mr. Domingo, soprano Sharon Sweet, and baritone Vladimir Chernov. The production will be by Giancarlo del Monaco, who designed the widely praised recent production of Puccini's "Girl of the Golden West."

"I Lombardi" will open on Dec. 2, with Maestro Levine again conducting a cast headed by Mr. Pavarotti, soprano Aprile Millo, and bass Samuel Ramey. This production will be by Mark Lamos in his Met debut, with sets by John Conklin.

"Rusalka," the first Dvorak opera ever given at the Met, will open on Nov. 11 in an Otto Schenk production that was created for the Vienna State Opera. Czech soprano Gabriela Benackova will head a cast that includes soprano Janis Martin, mezzo Dolora Zajick, and tenor Neil Rosenshein. John Fiore will conduct.

The new "Death in Venice" will premiere on Feb. 7, 1994, with Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Thomas Allen. David Atherton will conduct and the production - shared with the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden in London - is by Colin Graham.

"Otello" will open on March 21 with Domingo in one of his most famous roles. Soprano Carol Vaness will portray Desdemona and Iago will be sung by the Russian baritone Sergei Leiferkus, who made a strong debut this season in Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin." Valery Gergiev, artistic director of the Kirov Opera, will conduct, and the production will be by the English film director John Schlesinger.

The season will include revivals of Berlioz's epic "Il Troyens," with Francoise Pollet, Maria Ewing, and Gary Lakes; and Poulenc's "Dialogues of the Carmelites," performed in English with Dawn Upshaw, Teresa Stratas, and Helga Dernesch, with conductor Kent Nagano making his Met debut. Other works in the repertory will include Verdi's "Aida," Rossini's "Il Barbiere di Siviglia," and Donizetti's "La Fille du Regiment."

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