Performance Sunday, December 22, 2013 | 3 PM

The MET Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
“An artist of the highest caliber,” Peter Mattei’s “luxuriant baritone on its own is a thing of beauty—handsome, generously produced, technically polished, [and] powerful” (Opera News). With The MET Orchestra and Music Director James Levine, he brings his celebrated voice to Mahler’s autobiographical song cycle, inspired by a tumultuous love affair that came to a bitter end. The program also includes Mahler’s Symphony No. 7, a nocturnal musical journey from dusk till dawn.


  • The MET Orchestra
    James Levine, Music Director and Conductor
  • Peter Mattei, Baritone


  • Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
  • Symphony No. 7

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission. Please note that there will be no late seating during the first half of this performance.


  • The MET Orchestra

    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra is regarded as one of the world's finest orchestras. From the time of the company's inception in 1883, the ensemble has worked with leading conductors in both opera and concert performances and has developed into an orchestra of enormous technical polish and style. The MET Orchestra (as the ensemble is referred to when appearing in concert outside the opera house) maintains a demanding schedule of performances and rehearsals during its 33-week New York season, when the company performs seven times a week in repertory that this season encompasses 26 operas.

    Arturo Toscanini conducted almost 500 performances at the Met, and Gustav Mahler, during the few years he was in New York, conducted 54 Met performances. More recently, many of the world's great conductors have led the orchestra: Walter, Beecham, Reiner, Mitropoulos, Kempe, Szell, Böhm, Solti, Maazel, Bernstein, Mehta, Abbado, Karajan, Dohnányi, Haitink, Tennstedt, Ozawa, Gergiev, Barenboim, and Muti. Carlos Kleiber's only US opera performances were with the MET Orchestra.

    In addition to its opera schedule, the orchestra has a distinguished history of concert performances. Toscanini made his American debut as a symphonic conductor with the Met Orchestra in 1913, and the impressive list of instrumental soloists who appeared with the orchestra includes Leopold Godowsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Arthur Rubinstein, Pablo Casals, Josef Hofmann, Ferruccio Busoni, Jascha Heifetz, Moritz Rosenthal, and Fritz Kreisler. Since the orchestra resumed symphonic concerts in 1991, instrumental soloists have included Itzhak Perlman, Maxim Vengerov, Alfred Brendel, and Evgeny Kissin, and the group has performed six world premieres: John Harbison's Closer to My Own Life, Milton Babbitt's Piano Concerto No. 2 (1998), William Bolcom's Symphony No. 7 (2002), Hsueh-Yung Shen's Legend (2002), and Charles Wuorinen's Theologoumenon (2007) and Time Regained (2009).

    James Levine

    Music Director James Levine has developed a relationship with the Metropolitan Opera that is unparalleled in its history and unique in the musical world today. Since his company debut in 1971, he has led nearly 2,500 performances of 85 operas at the Met both in New York and on tour. This season at the Met he conducts revivals of Così fan tutte and Wozzeck, the new production of Falstaff, three concerts with the MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, and staged scenes from works by Berlioz, Donizetti, and Mozart, and Stravinsky's one-act Mavra at Juilliard's Peter Jay Sharp Theater in a joint project between the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and the Juilliard School.

    Maestro Levine inaugurated the Metropolitan Opera Presents television series for PBS in 1977, founded the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program in 1980, and returned Wagner's complete Ring to the repertoire in 1989 (in the first integral cycles in 50 years at the Met). He and the MET Orchestra began touring in concert in 1991, and since then have performed around the world, including at Expo '92 in Seville, in Japan, across the United States and Europe, and regularly during and after the opera season here at Carnegie Hall.

    In addition to his responsibilities at the Met, Mr. Levine has been a distinguished pianist and an active and avid recital collaborator, especially in lieder and song repertoire. He began accompanying such artists as Jennie Tourel, Hans Hotter, and Eleanor Steber more than 50 years ago, and since that time has given recitals with most of the great singers of our time. From 1973 to 1993, he was music director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; became chief conductor from 1999 to 2004 of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra; and music director from 2000 to 2004 of the Verbier Festival Youth Orchestra. From 2004 to 2011, he was music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Between 1996 and 2000, he led more than a dozen concerts on the Three Tenors World Tour, and he was conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the soundtrack of Disney's Fantasia 2000. He has conducted every major orchestra in America and Europe. His most recent recording, James Levine: Live at Carnegie Hall, a live performance CD of his return to the podium in May with the MET Orchestra and Evgeny Kissin, was released earlier this season.

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  • Peter Mattei

    Peter Mattei is one of the most sought-after singers of his generation. He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 2002 as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, and has returned to the company for roles that include Shishkov in From the House of the Dead, Marcello in La bohème, Yeletsky in The Queen of Spades, Amfortas in Parsifal, the title role of Don Giovanni, and Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia. In addition to today's concert, he appeared at the Met earlier this season in the title role of Eugene Onegin.

    Highlights of recent seasons include Shishkov at La Scala, Don Giovanni at La Scala, the title role of Billy Budd at the Frankfurt Opera, Eugene Onegin  for his 2010-2011 season debut at the Vienna State Opera, and Don Giovanni at the Paris Opera and German State Opera Berlin. He has also sung Count Almaviva at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and San Francisco Opera; Eugene Onegin at the Salzburg Festival; Wolfram in Tannhäuser at La Scala; and Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with the Royal Swedish Opera.

    Mr. Mattei sang Coroebus in concert performances of Berlioz's Les Troyens with Sir Colin Davis conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, which was released on CD and received two Grammy Awards. Mr. Mattei's discography also includes Mahler's Symphony No. 8 with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Chailly and Don Giovanni with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra conducted by Daniel Harding. Appearances on DVD include Don Giovanni (Aix-en Provence Festival), Le nozze di Figaro (Paris Opera), and Eugene Onegin (Salzburg Festival).

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Mahler's Symphony No. 7 (Scherzo: Schattenhaft)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra | James Levine, Conductor
RCA Red Seal

At a Glance

Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) was Mahler's first true song cycle. It is an early example of the novelty of form and ambition of scope and scale that became defining characteristics of the composer's style. Predating all of his symphonies and other large works, it can be considered his first fully mature piece. Encompassing the wildly swinging moods of a jilted lover, the music of these four songs changes character quickly and frequently, as often within a single song as from one to the next, blurring the lines between movements and creating an organic, stream-of-consciousness musical journey that mirrors the protagonist's emotional one.

Composed in 1904-1905, Mahler's Symphony No. 7 is unusual even by its composer's eccentric standards. Like most of Mahler's work, the Seventh is enormous, calling for a huge orchestra with extended instrumentation and spilling across 80 minutes. How it spends those minutes, however, is unique among the composer's symphonies and unlike anything that came before it. Feeling like a sort of nocturnal, off-kilter version of the familiar idea of symphony-as-journey (imagine a Tim Burton remake of a Beethoven symphony), the Seventh meanders through a fascinating, shadowy musical landscape on its path from darkness into light, often changing direction for unexpected diversions and always taking time to revel in the sights and sounds encountered along the way, no matter how bizarre.
Program Notes
This performance is part of The MET Orchestra.