Isabel Leonard (far right) in the title role of Nico Muhly’s ‘Marnie’ with (l. to r.) Rebecca Ringle Kamarei, Deanna Breiwick, Peabody Southwell, and Dísella Lárusdóttir as the Shadow Marnies.
(Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera)
Fans of Alfred Hitchcock, Broadway director Michael Mayer, and contemporary opera composer Nico Muhly are officially freaking out (yes, opera-goers can freak out) over the arrival of Marnie, a new commission that begins performances at the legendary opera house on October 18. Featuring a libretto by Nicholas Wright and conducted by Robert Spano (both making their Met debuts), the new work promises to be a season highlight among returning classics such as Aida, Carmen, and Don Giovanni.
Marnie is the tale of a beautiful woman in late-1950s England running from a mysterious past, who assumes a series of new names, identities, and physical appearances at every turn. Marnie is finally caught in her deceit by the businessman Mark Rutland, but rather than turn her in, Mark blackmails Marnie into marrying him. As her world begins to shatter, Marnie’s life of lies is stripped bare, and she is forced to face the truth—and her future—without the deceptions on which she has relied for so long.
Moving quickly through cinematically structured and designed scenes, the creators illuminate Marnie’s inner life using a variety of musical textures and literary techniques. One innovation of Muhly’s score is its use of a madrigal-like chorus of four women—Marnie’s Shadows—who follow Marnie throughout the opera, giving voice to her turbulent and confused inner thoughts and feelings as she runs from her past, from her crimes, and ultimately from herself.
The Met clearly sees promise in cultivating Mr. Muhly, the youngest composer ever to be commissioned by the Met in 2013 for Two Boys, a daring new work about a teenager accused of murdering a 13-year-old boy he meets online. Mr. Mayer, too, made his Met debut during the 2012-13 with a Vegas-themed production of Rigoletto (returning this season). He’s directed 17 Broadway shows, snagging a Tony Award for Best Direction for the original production of Spring Awakening.
To reach wider audiences and make opera more accessible, the November 10 matinee performance of Marnie will be transmitted live around the world at 1 p.m. The transmission will be seen in more than 2,000 movie theaters in 73 countries around the world.
The October 19 and November 7 performances of Marnie will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM Channel 75, and the October 19 performance will also be streamed live on the Met’s website.
The Metropolitan Opera
30 Lincoln Center Plaza, NYC
October 19 – November 10