Crane Alumna Stephanie Blythe Stars in Met Live Ring Cycle Operas

09.30.10

Stephanie-Blythe-headshot
Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe ’92 will return to the Met stage as Fricka on Oct. 9.

Crane School of Music alumna Stephanie Blythe, the celebrated mezzo-soprano who has been hailed as a “once-in-a-generation opera singer” by the New York Times, is already drawing rave reviews for her starring role in the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of the first piece in Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

The Class of 1992 SUNY Potsdam graduate portrays Fricka, the indomitable wife of Wotan, in “Das Rheingold.” The opera production will be beamed to movie theatres across the globe on Saturday, Oct. 9, through The Met: Live in HD.

In the North Country, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music and J.S. Cinemas sponsor the 2010-11 season of The Met: Live in HD. “Das Rheingold” will be screened live at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9, with an encore transmission at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 17, at the Roxy Theatre in downtown Potsdam. The expected running time of the opera is three hours.

The New York Times recently hailed Blythe’s performance in the role on opening night, saying, “the powerhouse mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe was a vocally sumptuous, magisterial yet movingly vulnerable Fricka.” The Associated Press said “the unforced amplitude of her voice throughout its range was thrilling and her tone never less than gorgeous.”

Two unparalleled artists have joined forces to create a groundbreaking new Ring for the Met: Maestro James Levine and director Robert Lepage. The cycle launches with “Das Rheingold,” the prologue to Wagner’s epic drama. “The Ring is not just a story or a series of operas, it’s a cosmos,” says Lepage, who brings cutting-edge technology to the stage, with an innovative $9 million set.

Bryn Terfel sings the leading role of Wotan for the first time with the company, alongside Blythe as Fricka. Known for his visually stunning and technologically advanced theater works, Lepage made his Met debut in 2008 with Berlioz’s “La Damnation de Faust.” The cast also includes Wendy Bryn Harmer as Freia, Patricia Bardon as Erda, Adam Diegel as Froh, Eric Owens as Alberich, Richard Croft as Loge, Gerhard Siegel as Mime, Dwayne Croft as Donner, and Franz-Josef Selig and Hans-Peter König as the giants Fasolt and Fafner. Levine, who has conducted every complete cycle of Wagner’s masterpiece at the Met since 1989, says, “The Ring is one of those works of art that you think you know, but every time you return to it you find all kinds of brilliant moments that hadn’t struck you with the same force before.”

Blythe will continue her role as Fricka later this season with a production of Wagner’s “Die Walküre,” to continue the Ring Cycle. . The New York Times has said that Blythe “sounds vocally at home no matter what she sings”; indeed, the mezzo-soprano seems to have enchanted the opera world with her many roles, having won Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year Award in 2009 and the Opera News Award in 2007.

The Metropolitan Opera’s The Met: Live in HD series has won both Peabody and Emmy Awards, and sold more than 2.2 million tickets worldwide during the 2009-10 season. For the upcoming fifth season, The Met: Live in HD will expand to 1,500 theaters, and add Egypt, Portugal and Spain to its network of now 46 participating countries.

Ticket prices for the series are the lowest available in the nation: $18 for an adult, $15 for senior citizens, $12 for students and $9 for youth age 18 and under.

Tickets are available by calling the Community Performance Series Box Office at (315) 267-2277, or visiting the Roxy Theater or Northern Music & Video in downtown Potsdam or the CPS Box Office in the lobby of Sara M. Snell Music Theater. You can also reserve tickets online by visiting www.cpspotsdam.org.

For more information on the 2010-11 The Met: Live in HD season, visit the Metropolitan Opera website at http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/broadcast/hd_events_next.aspx. To learn more about the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York at Potsdam, visit www.potsdam.edu/crane.

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures, and concerts presented by faculty, students, and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution.