Following the press conference on Monday, the new season at the Paris Opera is now available on the web. As expected, this last season of the Gérard Mortier era is less than attractive. Rigoletto for instance, scheduled in late September and October suffers from a bad conductor (Daniel Oren is so not the right guy to exploit the brilliant Verdi's score), a mediocre production (Jérôme Savary is directing), unimpressive cast (Stefano Secco as Il duca di Mantova, Juan Pons/Ambrogio Maestri as Rigoletto, Ekaterina Syurina as Gilda). Things are looking a little brighter for the Ballo in Maschera production that premiered last June (May & June 2009). At least as far as the cast is concerned: Ramon Vargas will be Riccardo, Deborah Voigt Amelia and Franck Ferrari will take on the role of Renato (I'm not thrilled by Renato Palumbo conducting, though). Verdi's Macbeth, in a new production directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov has also an above-average cast (yet not compelling enough for me I'm afraid): Carlos Alvarez, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Violetta Urmana and Stefano Secco (April-May 2009). Puccini's Tosca (May-June 2009) and Madama Butterfly (February-March 2009) are clearly unattractive (except maybe for James Morris as Scarpia in Tosca). All and all, if you love russian (Tchaikovski, Chostakovitch) or eastern operas (Janacek, Smetana, Szymanowski), you will find this season quite interesting. Finally, worth noticing is the world premiere of Philippe Boesmans' Yvonne, princesse de Bourgogne on Jan.24, 2009, but then again with an awful choice at conducting (arrogant and heavy Sylvain Cambreling) and nothing much to cheer for as far as the casting is concerned (except for Mireille Delunsch). Otherwise, you might end up thinking, like I do, that you just can't wait for the 2009-2010 season to begin. Seriously, where are Natalie Dessay, Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Thomas Hampson, Patrizia Ciofi, Anna-Caterina Antonacci, Annick Massis and so many more (not even mentioning the conductors)?