Actually, tickets for live in HD “In Cinemas” broadcasts have already been on sale to Metropolitan Opera members, but they will be made available to the general public starting Wednesday, July 17. These Saturday live-streamed transmissions of Met operas have become quite popular; the Met replays the video recording of the Saturday broadcast the following Wednesday in most locations; dubbed “encore” presentations, many of these are later added to the Met Opera “On Demand” video service, and some are broadcast again in the summer between seasons. My experience is that seat availability varies depending on the popularity of the opera and the popularity of the series in the location closest to you. In my area, the best seats go early, and even weeks before the broadcast, the only seats remaining are in the neck-straining first few rows. So, my advice is to get your tickets early for the operas you most want to see live; seats for encore performances are not that often a problem. Wednesday, July 17 is not too early for performances in 2019; some seats will have already been sold to Met Opera members.
Oct 12 (live); 16 (encore) ------- Turandot (Giacomo Puccini)
Oct 26 (live); 30 (encore) ----- Manon (Jules Massenet)
Nov 9 (live); 13 (encore) ------ Madama Butterfly (Giacomo Puccini)
Nov 23 (live);27 (encore) ------ Akhnaten (Philip Glass)
Jan 11 (live); 15 (encore) ------ Wozzeck (Alban Berg)
Feb 1 (live); 5 (encore) ------ Porgy and Bess (George Gershwin)
Feb 29 (live); May 3 (encore) – Agrippina (George Frideric Handel)
Mar 14 (live); 18 (encore) ——- Der Fliegende Holländer (Richard Wagner)
Apr 11 (live); 15 (encore) —---- Tosca (Giacomo Puccini)
May 9 (live); 13 (encore) —–-- Maria Stuarda – (Gaetano Donizetti)
Reasons to go: Everyone will have their own reasons, but here are some of mine beyond liking movie popcorn and soda. I mostly want to see the ones I haven’t seen before, but let’s look just a little deeper. Note for each listing, the title is hyperlinked to the Met webpage for that opera and the synopses links are to the Met’s own summaries:
Turandot (synopsis)– I saw this Zeffirelli production live a couple of years ago at the Met, also with soprano Christine Goerke in the lead role. Goerke was outstanding and Puccini’s music is always gorgeous, but what really blew me away were the costumes, sets, and staging as only the Met can do; I felt that I was experiencing high art in just this aspect of the performance. If you can’t see it in person, then yes, see it live on the really big screen, the biggest one you can find.
l to r: Scenes from Manon (photo by Karen Almond), Madama Butterfly (photo by Marty Sohl), and Akhnaten (photo by Richard Hubert Smith). Courtesy of Metropolitan Opera.
Manon (synopsis)– Massenet’s Manon is performed often enough that I am embarrassed to admit I have not seen it before, so it’s definitely on my list. The added attraction is that soprano Lisette Oropesa and tenor Michael Fabiano play the leads. I saw Ms. Oropesa recently in Pittsburgh Opera’s Don Pasquale and she was fabulous; she had just won the Richard Tucker Award. She will be in DC on November 24 to perform in Washington Concert Opera’s performance of Ambroise Thomas’ Hamlet.
Madama Butterfly (synopsis)– Ok, it’s my favorite opera and has the great tenor, now baritone, Placido Domingo, in his role debut as Sharpless. This opera is so popular you might be the 1,000,000,000 customer. It looks like a very colorful production.
Akhnaten (synopsis)– The story is about the rise and fall of the 14th century, BC pharaoh. Other than that, I am clueless on this one but won’t miss it because it is Philip Glass and this opera doesn’t get performed that often. I do know that it has the currently hot, star countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo in the lead role. It also includes the very fine, young mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges.
l to r: Peter Mattei in Wozzeck, Eric Owens and Angel Blue in Porgy and Bess, and Joyce DiDonato in Agrippina. Photos by Karen Kudacki; courtesy of Metropolitan Opera.
Wozzeck (synopsis) – I saw Berg’s Lulu on video and I’m not sure I enjoyed it; it was more like a car wreck I could not keep from looking at. The music was a mix of melody and atonality. I did read the synopsis for Wozzeck. It seems to also be a bleak uncompromising look at poverty and adultery, so I guess I’ll go. It does have one of my favorite baritones, Peter Mattei, playing Wozzeck.
Porgy and Bess (synopsis)– I love Gershwin’s music, and this production has an amazing cast headed by Eric Owens and Angel Blue, but I will pass because I plan to see the Washington National Opera production next May.
Agrippina (synopsis) – Think Joyce DiDonato, Kate Lindsey, and Brenda Rae. That’s all you really need to know; anyone of those sopranos could headline an opera. Plus, there seems to be a Handel revival going on. When I read the synopsis, I was thinking tragedy, but it is in fact a satirical comedy where the characters use plotting, deception, and murder to get what they want. Sounds like fun.
l to r: Scenes from Der Fliegende Holländer (photo by Paola Kudacki), Tosca (photo by Ken Howard), and Maria Stuarda (photo by Ken Howard). Courtesy of Metropolitan Opera.
Der Fliegende Holländer (synopsis)– Or in English (with no umlauts), The Flying Dutchman, who is cursed to sail the seas until he finds true love and is given a chance once every seven years. I have viewed the Dutchman as introductory Wagner, but I attended this opera in concert (Baltimore Concert Opera) this past year and came away thinking this is truly a great opera. Sir Bryn Terfel will sing the Dutchman and German soprano Anja Kampe, famous for singing works by Wagner, will sing Senta. I am currently lobbying my wife for us to drive up to the Met to see this one in person.
Tosca (synopsis) – No, no, and no; I cannot stand to see one more Tosca. It’s starring Anna Netrebko? Well, of course I will attend. I always feel I don’t want to attend yet another performance of Tosca, but when performed nearby, I always go, and I’m always charmed again; Tosca is pretty much the perfect opera. For Ms. Netrebko, I am willing to travel. It and she are among the great ones.
Maria Stuarda (synopsis)– Met favorites Diana Damrau and Jamie Barton lock heads as Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I in a famous historical drama and an opera that gives it stars a chance to show what they can make of it. The Met says, “the opera’s drama is true to history in a way the facts are not.” Hmmm. In the current climate, that might benefit from some explaining.
I think the Met has done an excellent job this year of setting the opera table for fans of “In Cinemas” broadcasts, with an array that should appeal to all tastes in opera. While not the equal of attending the opera in person at the Met, these broadcasts offer less travel and cheaper prices to witness a Met performance, casual dress and taking refreshments to your seat, the possibility of close ups of the singers, and cast interviews in intermission. Looking over the season, I have my favorites; what’s yours? See you at the concession stand.
The Fan Experience: Showtimes for live performances are Saturdays at 12:55 pm, but always check when you buy your ticket. The re-broadcast (termed an “encore”) of each opera typically takes place on the following Wednesday, often more than one showing. The encores are not as popular as the live broadcasts on Saturdays though what you see on screen is exactly the same, 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 (note: I have found that entering your zipcode does not work). Wikipedia provides a history of this program. Tickets are in the in the $20-25 range, with discounts for children and seniors. To select a performance and buy tickets, click here.
Note that Intermissions can be a little tricky. When intermission begins don’t head for the restrooms just yet; the performer and staff interviews come next. After the interviews, there is a 15-20 minute intermission when you can leave for the restrooms and refill your soda without missing anything.