Director Deborah Warner Pulls Out of Met Opera's Season Opener

Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - 02:05 PM

The Metropolitan Opera said on Tuesday that its season opening production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin will be directed by the actress Fiona Shaw, after the director Deborah Warner pulled out. The company said that Warner has been sidelined because of an unexpected surgical procedure and the subsequent recovery. The debut production is to open on Sept. 23.

Warner and Shaw have been professional collaborators for 25 years, on productions that include a controversial Richard II (with Shaw playing the king) and a bloody poolside Medea that made waves in New York in 2002.

In addition to her acting credits, Shaw has directed several operas including Henze’s Elegy for Young Lovers, Vaughan Williams’s Riders to the Sea, and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro at English National Opera.

The Met production of Onegin, which is a co-production with English National Opera, will be conducted by Valery Gergiev and star Anna Netrebko.

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Comments [11]

Sanford Rothenberg from Brooklyn

It would seem that I have been "called out",to use the popular expression.There is now a sufficient body of work consisting of pieces I have written on these pages to show that I use examples,and when I am speaking about particular people,I name names,without fear or favor.The "want ad" is listed for openings,specifically written in the plural.The piece, in its original form,appeared in the "Opera Fan Club" group on Linked In as part of a discussion entitled "Can Opera Go Too Far?"I would recommend reading it in context,along with the comments it elicited.

Aug. 20 2013 03:17 AM
Chris Maltman from Kefalonia

I can only agree whole heartedly with Sarah and disagree most strongly with Mr Rothenberg. While I have had extremely negative experiences with some Theater directors who are thrown or, sometimes, pushed into opera without the faintest idea of, nor the slightest regard for, what makes opera so special, this is entirely the wrong situation to make an example of. Having worked with both Deborah and Fiona I can vouch for their artistic vision, love of opera, dedication and wall to wall competence. To say that the bile you spewed, Mr Rothenberg, was not directed at either person is to duck your responsibility to admit that you have spoken (written...?) out of turn and apologise for having done so. So, man up, as your countrymen are so fond of saying, apologise and target your arrows a little more carefully next time. There are many targets deserving of scorn, but these two are demonstrably not. Neither is this production of Onegin. In fact it is a jewel. Enjoy....

Aug. 19 2013 02:36 AM
John Ramster from Finland

Ms Shaw is by far the best person to replace DW at short notice just in terms of shared aesthetic and the choices she might make in the moment with different artists to the London premiere (and I speak as someone who assisted and revived Ms Warner's work back in the 90s). The knee jerk reaction of "this new development MUST be awful and the end of the world" is such a typical reaction of the dregs of our audience - the masochistic over-enthusiast who positively thrives on indignation and bile..

Aug. 19 2013 02:29 AM
Jonathan Cable from Lyon/NYC

I have had the honor and pleasure of working both with Fiona and Deborah in opera productions, and the vitriol displayed in some of these comments is at best displaced - it's actually quite appalling, as a matter of fact.
Both Fiona and Deborah are first-class both in theater and in opera, and people in NYC should be tickled to death to have either one of them at the Met.
How about actually going to *see* the Onegin production before spewing such mindless nonsense? Is that too much to ask?

Aug. 18 2013 09:19 PM
Sarah Connolly from UK

ps
I sat next to David McVicar during Deborah's Onegin at ENO and we both agreed that it was stunning.

Aug. 18 2013 08:44 PM
Sarah Connolly from UK

I would rise hugely to the defence of Fiona Shaw and her intimate knowledge of this glorious production.
You, The Met audience are in for a HUGE treat and now is not the time to complain about young directors not getting a chance. It is an emergency situation and Deborah is very ill. I am loathe to lecture anyone but please have a heart and wish Deborah a speedy recovery.
I enjoyed Robert Carsen's production but this one by Deborah Warner is the most beautiful, elegant, moving and poignant I have ever seen. It received enormously positive critical acclaim at ENO; the ballroom scene is a coup de theatre, just breathtaking. Lucky you.

Aug. 18 2013 08:33 PM
Floria from NY

So where does one get the opera direction education???? Are there courses on "Operatic Stage Production"? A budding director has almost no chance to learn the craft.....one would think the little companies popping up and around the City would offer that possibility....but those opportunities are guarded and impenetrable by those who were lucky enough to know someone linked to the opera group. I know of at least 4 people who would love that opportunity. Luck does not come to all the talented.

Aug. 08 2013 12:17 PM
Sanford Rothenberg from Brooklyn

To Fred Plotkin:Thank you for your agreement in principle with my tongue-in-cheek want ad.This was a repurposing of a piece I had previously written on Linked In dealing with directorial excesses.(As an admirer of Rossini,the master of repurposing material,I would hope that you would not mind).This was a general statement.If I were directing any comments to Fiona Shaw,I would have mentioned her by name.Bringing in theater directors to the MET was occurring in the Bing years with the likes of Tyrone Guthrie,and is no guarantee of success.John Bell,a towering figure on the Australian theater scene,has directed A "Tosca" at the Australian Opera set during the Fascist days of World War II,to a mixed reception.Thomas Allen has begun to direct opera,and as Natalie Dessay enters the twilight of her career,I have suggested that she would do well to follow this path.Having opera directed by those proficient in the art would be most welcome.

Aug. 08 2013 02:44 AM
Fred Plotkin

To Sanford Rothenberg: I quarrel not one bit with the ideas and spirit of your comment as a general observation about many of the stage directors and producers now at work in opera houses. But I will rise a bit to the defense of Fiona Shaw. I have had the opportunity to speak with her on several occasions in New York and once in Paris and she really does know and feel opera. I think that what we will have to bear in mind with this new production of Eugene Onegin is that it is an existing production (from English National Opera) that Deborah Warner directed. The costumes, scenery and lighting already exist and therefore, if we have problems (or praise) about them, it goes to the concept of Deborah Warner rather than Fiona Shaw. Something similar happened at the MET a couple of seasons ago. A new production of Boris Godunov was created by Peter Stein and his design team. Stein withdrew in the summer and the MET turned to Stephen Wadsworth, who has done many good opera productions. Wadsworth had to use the newly built sets and costumes, whether or not they conformed to his idea of what this opera is and how he would stage it. The difference here is that Shaw and Warner have been close collaborators for decades and Shaw surely understands Warner's artistic sensibility. We can only be hopeful, especially because this new Onegin replaces the wonderful staging by Robert Carsen.

Aug. 07 2013 05:43 PM
Silversalty from Brooklyn

Another image on the site's main page with a head cut off though at least this time not as part of the "carousel." When wide screen films are transferred to 4:3 (TV) DVD there's someone who watches the output to manually shift the image if significant elements are affected. Not so apparently at WQXR, or maybe opera performer's heads just aren't considered significant.

Aug. 06 2013 06:35 PM
Sanford Rothenberg from Brooklyn

WANTED-Stage directors/operatic productions.Prerequisites include:Musical illiteracy,ignorance of operatic tradition,and absolute contempt of audiences.Never having seen or heard an opera is a plus,as is having a "concept" diametrically opposed to the stated wishes of the composers and librettists.Preference given to graduates of the Peter Gelb Institute of Misguided Productions.Equal opportunity employer.Hopelessly unqualified cretins of all nationalities,ethnicities,and sexual orientations are encouraged to apply.

Aug. 06 2013 06:22 PM

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