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Screen and screen again

The New York Times sends cub reporter (Get it? Cub reporter! Oh, La Cieca is killing herself with the puns!) Zachary Woolfe to the movie palaces of the heartland to assess the impact of the Met’s HD program.

56 comments

  • operadunce says:

    Interesting coverage from Radio New Zealand on the general topic of backstage at the Met. Episode 2 from the following site focuses on the radio and HD broadcasts.
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/concert/documentaries/backstageatthemet

    The production includes a short interview with Renee Fleming, who was hosting that particular day, in which she mentions that the backstage interviews can be “disorienting” from the singer’s point of view.

  • Constantine A. Papas says:

    Having seen the same opera (Romeo & Juliet) in the house, in an HD, and heard it on Sirus, the sound on the radio is the closest to the house’s with a good audio system and suround sound; and the size of the voice of the singers varies.

  • Simon says:

    Any reports from Makropulos Case tonight?

    • Batty Masetto says:

      Only got to hear part of it, Simon, but the consensus in the chat that it should have been an HD instead of something else. Terrific conducting, Mattila sounded deeply engaged.

      • Simon says:

        Oh wonderful. I’ll going to the last performance next month and am now even more excited. Unfortunately, I’m only getting off work for the day now and missed the broadcast.

    • oedipe says:

      In the house Mattila sounded and looked great, and her acting was wonderful. She got a very long ovation at curtain call (she came out alone at first) and seemed very moved by it.
      Belohlávek was excellent and got a huge ovation. I didn’t much care for Leech, too shouty for my taste.
      The production is not very interesting, but the worst thing about it is that set changes require two intermissions: a total of one hour of intermission for about an hour and a half of music!

      • marshiemarkII says:

        Yes oedipe, I was there and your assessment is spot on and I agree with every word. Karita had a sensational triumph on all accounts but what a pleasure it is to hear an opera singer who SINGS rather than shouts the music. A basically gorgeous instrument working gorgeously well, what a pity she is not singing Wagner in this period where there are no great Wagnerians sopranos anymore……
        But Janacek was very well served tonight. Emalie Savoy was also gloriously beautiful in voice and fashion-model-slim gorgeous looks, another triumphant debut at the Met!!!!!!

  • Bluessweet says:

    Let me start out by saying that my SO and I are completely captivated by the MET in HD (and just about anything else that’s similar.) As far as live, in the house experience, we have the opportunity to go to anything we want to see with just a day trip to NYC or Philly.

    We avoided the first year broadcasts on the grounds that it couldn’t be much different than seeing opera on PBS. Fortunately, in year two, I won two tickets by answering something from my vast opera knowledge. (I think it was: “Who wrote the piece we’re going to play?”- Answer: Rossini, since it was the William Tell Overture.)

    The opera was the Scottish one and we were blown away. Then we started to realize that we could see many more operas per year by ponying up the $22.00 bucks a head, which was, for senior citizens of limited means, the only way we could expand our viewing.

    We enjoy seeing the actor’s faces, impossible in the theater, even with 8x Leica opera glasses. We even see the sweat pouring off the singers from their exertions, which makes them all the more real to us. The entr’acte interviews, while often hokey, as some have noted, are still closer to the performers than we ever have gotten in the house. (But not at other times.)

    We still see all the live performances that we can afford but, with the cost per performance and the number of works that are rarely done elsewhere now available in HD, I’m afraid the tide, at least for us, is running strongly toward simulcast. Even warhorses such as Traviata are worth seeing in a unique production, like that of the Decker.

    The age of the audience? Seems to depend on the venue. Where we go to the broadcasts, mid-seventies is “the younger set.” It’s the same way at the local legit theater. I’ve gone there for 25 years and I’ll swear that no one younger has joined the crowd. Matinees, at least in Philly, are known for the buses unloading folks from the retirement communities. On the other hand, at other times and other places, you’ll see younger people.

    Where will the performers come from if only the MET is selling tickets? Well, if you’ll check NYC, you’ll find three or four small opera companies. Between New Brunswick, NJ and Philly, there are at least five schools doing one to five shows a year and, at the Prince Theater (The Hal Prince theater, that is,) in Philly, Center City Opera Theater is offering three productions between April and Mid June. This is a company with about ten years behind it and claims to have an Artistic director/Creative Development Projects named Albert Innaurato hard at work to help make things go and grow.

    I’m not too worried about opera or at least not any more than worrying about decent music in general. The Mann, the summer venue for the city of Philly has gone from 18 performances of real, honest-to-god symphony, to a schedule of popular and rock musicians and only a couple of orchestra works with such famous stars as that young girl, Jackie Evancho or whatever her name is, being the featured soloist. Ah for the days of Merrill, Peters and Levine being the feature. Even the MET no logger shows up with their tent show in the summer.

    Nevertheless, smaller, more rudimentary organizations continue to draw crowds. Just last week, at a church in Haddonfield, NJ, The New Jersey Master Choral performed, first, the Mozart Requiem and then, the fourth movement of the Beethoven 9th to a packed house and they used four AVA people (two grads and two students) in the solos, along with certain members of the Philly orchestra. The house was packed.

    There is hope for some kind of future but all music and all performances are changing. The MET and Broadway, which used to be places I’d easily get to several times a year, are now big ticket items for people on their big trip of the year. I can’t compete for those seats, believe me. You will see me at the HD broadcasts though. (With my senior discount tickets clutched in my hot little hand.)

    Sorry this is so long but I thuoght it worth the time to express what I see.

  • oedipe says:

    From what I could gather, US audiences for the Met Live in HD shows are very elderly. Not so in other places! For instance, in my experience French audiences for the Met HDs are much younger, fiftish or so on average. Why is there such a big difference as a function of place?

    • Porgy Amor says:

      My own experience, and I’m in the US Eastern time zone, matches Woolfe’s; the HD audiences at theaters I frequent are decidedly gray. Most attendees appear to be 65+; the relative youngsters are fortyish. I’ll see an occasional young couple, especially for an opera with name recognition such as CARMEN or TRAVIATA, but they’re the stark exception.

      I’ve had trouble getting friends to go to these, not because they’re uninterested in the music but because the matinee time is inconvenient for people who go out on Friday night and don’t crawl into bed until 4 or 5 a.m. While they may be awake by noon, they’re not raring to go for five hours of Wagner. Early afternoon in the Eastern US would be prime-time in France, wouldn’t it?

      • oedipe says:

        The Met HDs in Europe generally start at 6, 7, or 8pm, depending on the local time zone. Could this be the main factor determining the age group of the audience?

        • thirdlady says:

          With all due respect, esteemed doyenne, I don’t feel it’s some kind of “sacred entitlement” to whine about paying a not inconsiderable sum to attend a performance and then have to try to watch it while there is a camera rehearsal going on at the front of the stage (and is there some reason the camera rehearsals can’t take place at, say, a rehearsal rather than an actual performance?). But, by all means, when buying tickets in the future, I will pore over the Met schedule and attempt to figure out which performances are the performances before the HD broadcasts. Since, obviously, I have no better way to spend my time, and it’s clearly FAR too difficult for the Met to just indicate that on their schedule, for the convenience of those who are interested in seeing performances that don’t feature an unobstructed view of cameraman butt.

      • ianw2 says:

        The one HD I went to- was prepared to haul myself out to the NOVA suburbs for- was Nixon in China, one of those operas which supposedly pulls in the hip young downtown youngsters to opera.

        I was the youngest there by, I’d guess, thirty years.

        I think the matinee- from memory it was a 1pm kick off- is a deterrent for anyone who either had a late Friday night or, for potential audiences who are a bit older, is spending their Saturday running errands or taking kids to soccer and little league.

        In my situation, the local audiences are probably generally older in the Virginia suburbs than they would’ve been for a screening in DC. I’ve heard though that the Met has enough regular patrons in DC who travel to New York that they aren’t interested in cannibalising that audience with more local HD.

        But matinees have always skewed older. When I was working as an usher as a student, the mid-week matinee of musicals and drama was always a much detested shift because of the fussy, older crowd and, no matter what was happening onstage at the time, their internal alarm that went off in the audience at 4pm to send them scurrying for their trains so they would avoid peak hour.

  • Liz.S says:

    I go to Lincoln Center and also watched some HD transmissions for the same production in the past. Although I disagree that Scholl was nearly inaudible in the house, I do agree that experience at the theatre nearby could be totally different from what you see and hear live in the house.

    Regardless, it’s still the second best thing (although, I agree also what we listen on radio is somewhat closer.)
    I watched Rigoletto from Covent Garden last weekend with some hassle of travelling to a theatre not so nearby. I guess my only complaint is -- yes, Met HD is great, but we should get to see more stuff from other houses, too!