Performance Thursday, May 26, 2016 | 8 PM

The MET Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
One of the great Wagnerians, James Levine conducts The MET Orchestra in selections from Der Ring des Nibelungen. Wagner’s epic operatic tetralogy tells a tale of gods and men in music of tremendous power, tenderness, and exquisite color. Wagner’s Ring features spectacular depictions of nature, lumbering giants, flying warrior maidens, all-consuming fire, and more in strikingly vivid music. Soprano Christine Goerke, called “a beacon of brilliance” (The New Yorker), and Johan Botha, “a true Wagnerian tenor” (The Telegraph), join the orchestra for Wagner’s brilliant music.


  • The MET Orchestra
    James Levine, Music Director Emeritus and Conductor
  • Christine Goerke, Soprano
  • Stefan Vinke, Tenor


  • WAGNER Excerpts from Der Ring des Nibelungen

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two and one-half hours, including one 20-minute intermission. 


  • 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 as many as seven times a week in repertory that this season encompassed 24 operas.

    In addition to its opera schedule, the orchestra has a distinguished history of concert performances. Arturo 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: Milton Babbitt's Piano Concerto No. 2 (1998), William Bolcom's Symphony No. 7 (2002), Hsueh-Yung Shen's Legend (2002), Charles Wuorinen's Theologoumenon (2007) and Time Regained (2009), and John Harbison's Closer to My Own Life (2011).

    James Levine

    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 more than 2,500 performances of nearly 90 operas at the Met, both in New York and on tour. This season at the Met, he conducted revivals of Tannhäuser (transmitted live in HD), Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Die Fledermaus, and Simon Boccanegra, as well as two performances by the MET Chamber Ensemble at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall and Weill Recital Hall.

    Mr. Levine 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; they have since performed around the world, including at Expo '92 in Seville, in Japan, across the US, and throughout Europe. With the conclusion of the 2015-2016 opera season, Maestro Levine retired as music director and has taken on the new position of music director emeritus.

    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 of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; became chief conductor from 1999 to 2004 of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra; and served as music director of the Verbier Festival Youth Orchestra from 2000 to 2004. From 2004 to 2011, he was music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Between 1996 and 2000, he led more than a dozen concerts around the world with the Three Tenors, 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.

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  • Christine Goerke

    Christine Goerke has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera, New York City Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opéra national de Paris, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse, Deutsche Oper Berlin, La Scala, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Madrid's Teatro Real, Teatro Municipal de Santiago, the Saito Kinen Festival, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. She has sung the Mozart and Handel heroines, as well as the dramatic Strauss and Wagner roles, also garnering acclaim for the title roles in Elektra, Ariadne auf Naxos, Norma, and Iphigénie en Tauride, as well as Kundry in Parsifal, Ortrud in Lohengrin, Leonora in Fidelio, Eboli in Don Carlo, the Dyer's Wife in Die Frau ohne Schatten, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes, the Female Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia, Alice Ford in Falstaff, and Mother Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites.

    Ms. Goerke has appeared in concert with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, Houston Symphony, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under such conductors as James Conlon, Mark Elder, Christoph Eschenbach, Claus Peter Flor, James Levine, Charles Mackerras, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Seija Ozawa, Donald Runnicles, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Shaw, Leonard Slatkin, Patrick Summers, Jeffrey Tate, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Edo de Waart.

    Ms. Goerke's recordings include Vaughan Williams's A Sea Symphony with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Grammy Award winner), and, with Robert Shaw, Brahms's Liebeslieder Waltzes, Poulenc's Stabat Mater, Szymanowski's Stabat Mater, and Dvořák's Stabat Mater. She has also recorded the title role in Iphigénie en Tauride and Britten's War Requiem. She recently sang her first fully staged performances of Brünnhilde in Die Walküre at both the Canadian Opera Company and Houston Grand Opera, the title role in Florencia en el Amazonas at Washington National Opera, and Elektra at Michigan Opera Theatre. Future plans include Wagner's Ring cycle at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera, where this season she sings the title role in Turandot.

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  • Stefan Vinke

    German tenor Stefan Vinke earned his master's degree in singing, vocal pedagogy, and sacred music at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln. From 1999 to 2005, he sang leading tenor roles at the Nationaltheater Mannheim, including Tristan in Tristan und Isolde, Florestan in Fidelio, Siegmund in Die Walküre, Erik in Der fliegende Holländer, Don José in Carmen, and the title roles of Parsifal, Lohengrin, Idomeneo, and Les contes d'Hoffmann. In 2000, he was named the year's best young singer by Opernwelt magazine.

    Since his role debut as Siegfried in 2006 in Robert Carsen's production of Wagner's Ring cycle at Oper Köln, Mr. Vinke has appeared as Siegfried at Deutsche Oper Berlin, Salzburg Easter Festival, and London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as well as in Venice, Lisbon, Seville, Barcelona, Strasbourg, Weimar, Stuttgart, Boston, Seattle, and Melbourne. Since his 2010 debut as Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in Leipzig, he has belonged to the small group of tenors who sing Wagner's complete lead tenor repertoire.

    Mr. Vinke made his debut at the Bayreuth Festival in summer 2011 as Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Tristan in Tristan und Isolde. Other highlights of recent seasons include appearances as Siegmund and Parsifal in Leipzig, Parsifal and the title role of Tannhäuser at Deutsche Oper Berlin, Lohengrin in Hamburg and Beijing, Erik at Bavarian State Opera, and Tristan in Madrid.

    This season, Mr. Vinke appears as Siegfried in Budapest, Toronto, and at the Bayreuth Festival; as Tannhäuser and as Menelaus in Die ägyptische Helena at Deutsche Oper Berlin; as the Drum Major in Wozzeck at Chicago Lyric Opera; and in Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with the New York Philharmonic.

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At a Glance

The four operas that make up Wagner’s Ring cycle—Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung—constitute one of the most monumental achievements in Western culture, a fusion of all the arts into a 15-hour mythological music drama that depicts the rise and collapse of civilizations. It has hypnotized not only the opera world, but a huge amount of popular culture—its superheroes, deranged gods, and shape-shifting monstrosities endlessly recycled in epics like Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. Audiences willingly suspend their dismay at Wagner’s many dark sides—his monumental arrogance and notorious anti-Semitism—and submit to the work’s overwhelming ambition and rapture. As scholar Stephen Greenblatt has written, “An achievement of this magnitude has a mysterious power to affirm human worth in the face of humanity’s manifest and crushing defects, defects that the composer himself shared in egregiously full measure.”
Program Notes
This performance is part of The MET Orchestra, and Opera Favorites.