The Philadelphia Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera, which share a music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, for the first time this season, are looking to take the relationship even deeper — and potentially to pull the Curtis Institute of Music into their orbit.
The orchestra has already commissioned and played the premiere of Liar, a suite from the Nico Muhly opera Marnie opening at the Met next month. But future joint projects will go further than the orchestra playing an orchestral suite drawn from an opera being done at the Met.
"It will be a lot broader than that," said orchestra president and CEO Matías Tarnopolsky. The orchestra and the Met expect to co-commission operas.
The scores will receive their world premieres in concert performances at the Kimmel Center and then stage premieres in New York at the Metropolitan Opera, Tarnopolsky said on Monday after the New York Times reported new details Sunday about the collaboration and some works being discussed. Among them: a new opera commission from Mason Bates based on the Michael Chabon novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
Chabon has yet to approve the adaptation of the novel. "The project is under discussion with the author," said an orchestra spokesperson.
Bates' Anthology of Fantastic Zoology is already scheduled to be performed by the orchestra this November.
Talks over future projects began years ago, but on Tarnopolsky's second day on the job this summer, he met with Nézet-Séguin and Met general manager Peter Gelb over lunch in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where the orchestra was playing its annual August residency.
"Certainly the substance of our conversations is wide-ranging," he said. "It is very exciting for both the orchestra and the Met, and it's going to be a real partnership that I think will benefit both cities and organizations greatly."
The Curtis Institute of Music has also had preliminary talks with the orchestra and Met about ways of working together, the Times reported.
Whether the school participates in a particular project depends on the timing, and whether it benefits the students, Curtis president and CEO Roberto Díaz said Monday. "If it's the right thing, we'd love to get involved."
Several years ago, the Curtis orchestra and singers workshopped Jennifer Higdon's Cold Mountain, premiered by Opera Philadelphia, and the school would be open to doing that kind of activity again, Díaz said.
The Cold Mountain workshop ended being a career-booster for one Curtis student. When baritone Nathan Gunn pulled out of the opera's first Philadelphia performances in 2016, Jarrett Ott, the Curtis student who sang the role for the Curtis workshop, stepped in.
"That was a huge opportunity for him," Díaz said.
A potential source of synergy for future projects stems from something else the orchestra and Met share: some of the same notable philanthropists. Donors are often attracted to artistic collaborations between and among multiple groups and the efficiencies that can come with them.
"These are exactly the kinds of projects that can really inspire our philanthropic community both in New York and Philadelphia," said Tarnopolsky. "It's one of those situations where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."