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The Five Tenors

A preview of this season’s Met roster.

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As the Three Tenors phenomenon fades into history, the opera world anxiously searches for its next male stars. But while the Carreras-Domingo-Pavarotti chemistry came from a formula that can surely never be remixed, the Metropolitan Opera hardly suffers from a tenor shortage. A rundown of five who will grace its stage this fall.

Ben Heppner
Verdi’s Otello has been Plácido Domingo’s property for 25 years, and a successor is needed. Many are betting on Heppner—known for lyrical interpretations of Wagnerian heldentenor parts—when he tackles the role on opening night, September 20. One concern: Heppner has yet to prove himself in the Italian repertory, and a chancy top register sometimes troubles him.

Marcelo Álvarez
Voices don’t come much sweeter than Álvarez’s, which should make him an ideal Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème, opening October 22. Perhaps this time it will come together for Álvarez, who since his rather lame debut as Alfredo in La Traviata a few seasons ago has never enjoyed the acclaim at the Met that he gets in Europe.

Peter Seiffert
Well on his way to becoming a prominent Wagnerian, Seiffert makes his Met debut on November 18 as Tannhäuser, a role that holds more terrors for tenors than Tristan. In Germany, doubts have been expressed about his ability to sustain strenuous heldentenor demands. With Tannhäuser he faces the biggest challenge of them all.

Ramón Vargas
He’s specialized in bel canto up to now, but on December 10 Vargas takes on a more pressing assignment: Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. The late Alfredo Kraus became his era’s definitive Hoffmann, and Vargas has much in common with his predecessor. But, never an especially dynamic stage presence, he’ll have his work cut out for him bringing the alcoholic poet to life.

Plácido Domingo
Domingo will undoubtedly create a chill or two as Siegmund in Wagner’s Die Walküre, opening September 25. (The part never taxes his now-risky upper range.) Fans, though, are anticipating a new role: Cyrano de Bergerac in Franco Alfano’s opera, which arrives on May 13. Since the opera is virtually unknown, he’s blessed with no competition in the part.


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