For ten years the Metropolitan Opera has broadcast live some of their opera performances to selected movie theaters around the country. I attended my first of these a year or so ago, a performance of Rigoletto with Piotr Beczala and Diana Damrau. It was a very enjoyable performance updated to take place in the Las Vegas Rat Pack era. The remaining Live-in-HD performances for the 2015-2016 season are listed in the sidebar on this page: Manon Lescaut, Madama Butterfly, Roberto Devereux, and Elektra. Soprano Kristine Opolais stars in Manon. She has generated a good deal of excitement and is featured on the cover of the February issue of Opera News. I love Butterfly for its gorgeous music. When I listened to a version with Renata Scotto in the role of Cio Cio San a few years ago, she became the leading contender for my favorite soprano of all time and has remained so. Sandra Radanovsky completes a hat trick with Donizetti’s triology by starring in Devereux; she was on the January issue of Opera News. She also starred to acclaim in Anna Bolena and Maria Stuarda earlier this season at the Met. The wild card for me personally is Elektra. I have only heard snippets of this opera; it may be a challenge for me to enjoy based on what I’ve heard so far. Maybe I should go see it for that reason alone. I guess this also reveals that currently I am sort of partial to the sopranos.
As you would expect, the HD theater showing is not as thrilling as being at a live performance. However, as part of the broadcast experience you are treated to an opera star host providing commentary to begin the show and interviews with performers during the intermissions. I also personally find it an advantage for immersion in the opera to be isolated in a theater where the use of electronic devices has been removed from me and my neighbors. And I don’t have to experience my neighbor’s lawn mower running close to my family room window just as “Donne e mobile” begins. Also, at about $25 per ticket these are of course much less expensive seats than those at Lincoln Center in NYC. I’d rate them as good entertainment values for your opera dollar.
The cinemas vary in their sound quality and comfort, so pick your venue to suit you. Some theaters have reserved seating and some do not. In my experience the well-positioned reserved seats go fast, even months ahead, so buy these tickets as far ahead as you can safely schedule your time. I imagine that, though you can buy your tickets ahead of time, you must stand in line for unreserved seating to get the good seats (I welcome readers to correct me on this point) and not experience the neck strain of sitting in the front row for 3-4 hours; waiting in line is not my favorite thing and I wish all the seats were reserved. The performances are on Saturdays and typically have an encore (recorded, not live) showing in the evening the following Tuesday or Wednesday. I believe that these broadcast performances wind up getting made into videos for sale and made available on the Met Opera On-Demand series, so you can likely view them later. Movie theaters representing several different chains carry the HD performances. Here is the link to track one down in your area: https://www.metopera.org/Season/In-Cinemas/.