Almost exactly a year since my last visit, I'm bound for New York again. Last time it was for a début, this time for a star turn: the tenor in my life will sing Siegmund in the opening Ring cycle at the Met. And in case you're wondering, no, I don't get sick of saying that. Siegmund! At the Met! Weirdly enough, although it's one of his signature roles, I've never yet heard him sing it live; in fact, I've never heard anyone sing it live. Well, not exactly. I heard Jonas Kaufmann twice from the Green Room last year, but I don't think that counts. As far as I'm concerned, the April 13th performance is my first live Die Walküre and Stuart is my first live Siegmund – and because, in this instance, I'm entitled to be just as spectacularly biased as I like, I can already tell you he'll be my favourite Siegmund too. So there.
Anyway, that accounts for one evening, and maybe a morning too if they let me into the general, but this is New York and there is plenty else to see. Not as much as last time, because we're only there half as long, but I repeat: It's New York. There's always something. Here's what's on my Must See List so far. Now I ask you, O Faithful Readers, to point out all the essential events I have unforgiveably missed.
St John Passion at Carnegie Hall I could pretend that this all about the transcendent beauty of Bach – and no doubt in part it will be – but the truth is, this is the only chance I'll have in the foreseeable future to see the oh-so-gorgeous Karina Gauvin in performance, and that is why I'm going. And why I'm sitting in the front row. In an ideal world, she'd be doing a solo recital, or a Handel opera, or something similarly vehicular. But in the absence of all that, this concert will do nicely.
Porgy and Bess Audra McDonald. Need I say more? I know that this is the meddled-with production which prompted a long and scathing letter from Stephen "God" Sondheim but I don't care. Audra is Audra is Audra. And it would be nice to see a production of Porgy and Bess, too.
Diva festival at the Met I'm really showing my soprano bias, aren't I? As if you're surprised. I don't really like Manon very much but am very keen finally to see and hear Anna Netrebko in action; L'elisir d'amore is a cute opera made unmissable by the delightful Miss Damrau; and while I have no idea whether Natalie Dessay really should sing Violetta, I can say without a doubt that I'm going to need to hear her do it. So those are my top three. Might be nice to hear Tom Hampson sing Macbeth, too, and my completist side is quietly hoping I'll make it to Rheingold as well.
Anna Caterina Antonacci in recital at Alice Tully Hall Another singer I've wanted to hear live for many years.
Seminar Not opera, not even musical. I'm not necessarily so good with the legitimate theatre, and this review doesn't inspire massive confidence, but I'd brave far greater danger for the chance of seeing Alan Rickman. Especially Alan Rickman "shredding egos". I always believed in you, Professor Snape!
So, New Yorkers and cultural ninjas: I'm in town from March 21st until April 13th. What unmissables am I missing? I'll never see everything, of course; but I'd hate to find out a day too late that I deprived myself of something exceptional.