New York's Metropolitan Opera aims to reach a wider audience with a season that will feature six new productions and step up live broadcasts to cinemas around the world.
Announcing its 2015-16 season on Wednesday, the Met promised performances by some of opera's top singers and popular classics but steered clear of contemporary work.
For the fist time in nearly a century, the Met will stage Georges Bizet's early opera "Les Pecheurs de Perles" ("The Pearl Fishers"), a tale of a priestess wooed by friends-turned-rivals in ancient Sri Lanka.
The last Met production in 1916 starred the legendary tenor Enrico Caruso. The new production will be directed by Penny Woolcock, who has a diverse background in theater and film.
Other season highlights include a new production by South African artist William Kentridge of Alban Berg's "Lulu," a once controversial opera of a young woman's sexual spell.
Berg died before the premiere of "Lulu" in 1937 in Zurich. Decades later, the Met was instrumental in putting together a complete version.
German soprano Marlis Petersen, who is known for portraying "Lulu," will perform the role in New York.
Other star performers in the 2015-16 season include the Swedish dramatic soprano Nina Stemme, who mostly performs in Europe.
She will play one of opera's best-loved but highly challenging title roles in select Met performances of Puccini's "Turandot." She will also star in the title role of "Elektra."
The season will open on October 17 with a new production of Verdi's "Otello" directed by Yannick Nezet-Seguin, who leads orchestras in Philadelphia, Rotterdam and his native Montreal.
The season marks the 10th for "The Met: Live in HD," which broadcasts operas in cinemas designed for movies.
The initiative, led by the Met's general manager Peter Gelb, aims to draw a wider audience by bringing in viewers unfamiliar with opera or who cannot come to performances in New York.
The Met said it would expand transmissions in the 2015-16 season to a total of more than 2,000 movie theaters in 70 countries, up from just 98 cinemas during the first broadcast in 2006.
The Met said that the broadcasts have generated an average of $17 million per season, a significant sum for an opera house that despite its prestige has struggled financially.
Moody's Investors Service in December downgraded the Met's credit rating, saying it faced risks due to its heavy reliance on donations, although it credited the live broadcasts as a way to boost revenue.