I don’t typically cover what is going on with the Metropolitan Opera (they spend millions of dollars doing that), but the Met Live in HD series has gotten so popular locally that I feel compelled occasionally to do so. Thinking of Met cinema broadcasts still reminds me that Anne Midgette wrote a column last July where she referred to anything not a live, staged opera as an opera product. I found that characterization annoying because I have seen a few of these broadcasts, and I think they are quite good. So, I felt compelled to write a snooty, defensive blog report defending broadcasts in cinemas. In fairness to Ms. Midgette, an outstanding classical music critic with the Washington Post, she was trying to emphasize the point that there ain’t nothing like opera live, hearing the soaring human voice unmodified by electronic transmission. I completely agree. If behind door number one you can choose to attend in person a live opera performance or behind door number two you can choose to attend a live, cinema broadcast, by all means, choose door number one. However, that doesn’t mean that door number two is a bad choice, especially if you consider the price and convenience and the fact that you can wear shorts and T-shirts. Ok, enough re-venting about “opera product” and enough of encouraging you to attend some live performances in person.
Metropolitan Opera has just announced that you can buy tickets for next season’s shows in cinemas on Wednesday. Why am I bothering to bring this up in my blog? Simply to pass on my experience with theaters that offer reserved seating, which I prefer to having to arrive early and stand in line to get a desirable seat. For reserve seating theaters, I have found that the seats that allow you to watch the performance without being so close that you must turn your head from side to side to see all the action, sell out well in advance of the show dates, and seats for non-reserve theaters can sell out early for popular operas. So, it’s not too early to buy your seats as of July 19, or at least start thinking about it.
Some things to know: Tickets will be available for purchase this coming Wednesday, July 19. Showtimes are Saturdays at noon, 12:30 pm, or 12:55 pm – check when you buy your ticket. There typically is a rebroadcast of each opera on the following Wednesday evening; these are not as popular as the live broadcasts on Saturdays, so good seats usually continue to be available closer to performance time, often the day of. Individual theaters may have overriding policies as to when tickets for specific showings can be purchased; check with your local theater. Each opera listed on the Met in Cinemas website includes a Find Theater button that will lead to a site where you can enter your city/state address and see theaters in your area. For a comprehensive list of participating theaters check here. Last year tickets were in the in the $20-25 range, with discounts for children and seniors. If you join the Met as a member at or above the $150 level, you can choose your seats now through July 18. To select a performance and buy tickets, click here.
Here is the Met live HD in Cinemas lineup for the 2017-2018 season:
Norma – Oct 7
Die Zauberflote (translate: The Magic Flute) – Oct 14
The Exterminating Angel – Nov 18
Tosca – Jan 27
L’Elisir d’Amore – Feb 10
La Boheme – Feb 24
Semiramide – Mar 10
Cosi fan tutte – Mar 31
Luisa Miller – Apr 14
Cendrillon (translate: Cinderella) – Apr 28
What interests me that's coming up: Norma has Sandra Radvanovsky and Joyce DiDonato. The Exterminating Angel is a new opera by Thomas Ades, based on the Luis Buneul film of the same name. I read both good and not so good things about the opera; the film is a cinema classic. This will be the opera's American Premiere. Tosca – I’ve been wanting to see Sonya Yoncheva; it also has Vittorio Griglio and Bryn Terfel. Hmmm, La Boheme also has Sonya Yoncheva and it has Susanna Phillips as Musetta, but I’ve seen Tosca and La Boheme multiple times. What to do? Semiramide – a Rossini opera that seems to get performed a lot lately; I haven’t seen it and it has Javier Camarena, a tenor getting truly rave reviews. Cosi fan tutte – can’t say that I want to see this opera one more time, but it does offer an imaginative new production (look at the Met ad above). Luisa Miller – a Verdi opera I have not seen and guess who is in it? Sonya Yoncheva. Problem solved. Plus, it has Placido Domingo. Cendrillon – might be interesting to compare DiDonato’s performance in Massenet’s Cinderella to the one in Rossini’s Cinderella (La Cenerentola). One other dilemna - I like to go to a live performance or two each year at the Met; which to go live and which to attend the cinema broadcast?
By the way, there is a summer encore broadcast of Carmen on Wednesday evening, July 19 at 7 pm. Plenty of seats available at movie prices. All-star cast (2010): Barbara Frittoli, Elina Garanca, Robert Alagna, and Teddy Tahu Rhodes.