Renée Fleming stars as Clarissa Vaughan in Great Performances at The Met: The Hours, premiering on PBS (check local listings) on Friday, March 17 9:00 PM. She is joined by Denyce Graves as Sally and Kyle Ketelsen as Richard in the Phelim McDermott production of Kevin Puts’ new opera, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, The Hours is adapted from Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel and the 2002 Academy Award-winning film. The broadcast co-stars Kelli O’Hara as Laura Brown and Joyce DiDonato as Virginia Woolf; award-winning actress Christine Baranski hosts.
Great Performances at The Met: The Hours takes place in a single day as it follows the stories of three women over three time periods and cities: Clarissa Vaughan in New York City in 1999; Virginia Woolf in Richmond, England, in 1923; and Laura Brown in Los Angeles in 1949. Over the course of the opera, Woolf (DiDonato) is writing the novel, Brown (O’Hara) is reading it in the 1950s, and Vaughan (Fleming) is seemingly living through its plot in late-20th century Manhattan. Grappling with loss, isolation, and their roles in society, the three women find that they are not alone as they make shared connections that transcend time and geography. The opera uses Woolf’s and Cunningham’s magisterial prose as a departure point from which to explore ambiguities and fluidities that are heightened further by musical expression.
Photo credits: Renée Fleming – Andrew Eccles; Denyce Graves – Devon Cass; Kyle Ketelsen – Lawrence Brownlee