The Met Celebrates the 40th Anniversary of James Levine's Company Debut with Special Box Sets of DVDs

Limited edition collection includes previously unavailable recordings and videos conducted by Levine to be released September 21, 2010

The Metropolitan Opera celebrates the 40th anniversary of James Levine’s company debut with James Levine: Celebrating 40 Years at the Met, two special boxed sets of 21 DVDs and 32 CDs featuring highlights from the longtime Music Director’s record-breaking career with the company. The two sets contain 22 complete performances, 19 of which have never been previously available in any format. All titles have been digitally remastered in state-of-the-art sound. The 21-DVD set features 11 complete operas including such star-studded performances as Smetana’s The Bartered Bride from 1978 with Teresa Stratas, Nicolai Gedda, Jon Vickers, and Martti Talvela, and Der Rosenkavalier from 1982 with Kiri Te Kanawa, Tatiana Troyanos, Judith Blegen, Luciano Pavarotti, and Kurt Moll. The DVDs also include highlights from historic concerts in 1982 and 1983 featuring five legendary names, Leontyne Price, Marilyn Horne, Tatiana Troyanos, Plácido Domingo, and Sherrill Milnes. The 11 historic performances on the 32-CD set range from early 1980s innovations like the Parade triple-bill (including Satie’s ballet Parade, and the operas Les Mamelles de Tirésias by Poulenc and L’Enfant et les Sortilèges by Ravel) to the world premiere of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby from 2000.

“No conductor has played a more vital role in the history of the Metropolitan Opera than our music director, James Levine,” said Peter Gelb, general manager of the Met. “I am so pleased that we can celebrate the 40th anniversary of his Met debut with this anniversary collection of some of his great Met performances.”

“This set contains performances that, for various reasons, are not in the commercial mainstream. The new collections come mostly from some less familiar masterpieces that were important for us in the development of our artistic quality—an especially exciting part of our work over these many years.” - James Levine

The collection highlights operas that Levine has made central to his work with the company, such as Berg’s Wozzeck and Lulu, each of which is presented in two different versions—one on DVD and one on CD. The performances of each opera are recorded years apart, with the Wozzeck DVD from 2001, featuring Falk Struckmann and Katarina Dalayman in the cast, and the CD version from 1980 with José van Dam and Anja Silja. Levine’s Lulu from 1980 with Julia Migenes in the title role is in the DVD set and his more recent performance from 2001 with Christine Schäfer is on CD.

All audio recordings are from live radio broadcasts. They include two works which Levine was responsible for bringing to the Met for the first time—Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini from 2003 and Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron from 1999—recorded in their premiere seasons. Two of the operas on CD are accompanied by bonus discs that include excerpts from other Met performances of the same opera. The complete Pelléas et Mélisande is from 1983 and has Jeannette Pilou, Dale Duesing, van Dam, and Jerome Hines in the cast. The bonus CD contains excerpts from two other performances: one from 1978 with Stratas, Gabriel Bacquier, and Hines, and a second from 1995 with Frederica von Stade and Dwayne Croft. The bonus CD accompanying the complete Lohengrin from 1998 with Ben Heppner, Deborah Voigt, Deborah Polaski, and Hans-Joachim Ketelsen, features excerpts from a 1985 performance with Domingo, Anna Tomowa-Sintow, and Eva Marton, as well as a 1976 version with René Kollo and Pilar Lorengar.

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