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Met cancels Calixto Bieito's 'Forza del Destino' production

Associated Press logo Associated Press 1/13/2017 By RONALD BLUM, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Needing to trim its $300 million budget, the Metropolitan Opera canceled next year's production of Verdi's "La Forza del Destino," which was to have been the debut of provocative Spanish director Calixto Bieito.

Met General Manager Peter Gelb said the decision was made several months ago and will save about $1 million. He wanted to make the announcement ahead of the release of next season's schedule.

"It's obviously something that I'm not happy to be doing," he said Friday. While the budget is balanced, he said it "needs to come down given the state of earned revenue."

Gelb said it would not have been workable to attempt to raise more money for this specific production. "There's a limited number of people who give us large donations," he said. "We have to have credibility with our donors that we're taking responsible actions."

The production, first seen at the English National Opera in November 2015, was to have been the company debut of Bieito, whose work is known for its liberal nudity and unusual settings, such as having men sitting on toilets reading newspapers in the opening of a 2000 staging of Verdi's "Un Ballo in Machera" in Barcelona, Spain.

While Gelb hopes to bring Bieito to the Met in the future, nothing is scheduled. The Met said Friday that "Forza" has been postponed indefinitely and will be replaced by four concerts of Verdi's "Requiem" led by music director emeritus James Levine, running from Nov. 24 to Dec. 2.

Bieito becomes the second high-profile European director removed from the Met schedule. Norweigen Stefan Herheim's production of Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg)," first seen at the 2013 Salzburg Festival, was dropped from the Met's 2019-20 schedule last summer because of difficulties adapting it to the Met's narrower stage.

"It's an unhappy coincidence," Gelb said.

The Met, according to Gelb, is in discussions to have Tony Award-winning director Ivo van Hove stage multiple productions at the house and has plans to engage Australian director Barrie Kosky.

"We're certainly still interested in pushing the theatrical envelope," Gelb said.

The Verdi "Requiem" will include mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk, tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko and bass Ferruccio Furlanetto, who were to have been in "Forza," and soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, who takes the place of Sondra Radvanovsky.

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