La Cieca is putting her entire nest egg into popcorn futures, since next season opera lovers will rarely emerge from their local movie palace. The Met will do an astonishing 11 HD simulcasts during the 2008-2009 season. 

Monday, September 22, 2008: Opening Night Gala starring the astonishingly well-preserved Renée Fleming in fully staged performances of La Traviata (Act II), Manon (Act III), and the final scene from Richard Strauss’s Capriccio. Ramón Vargas, Thomas Hampson and Dwayne Croft support milady; James Levine and Marco Armiliato share the arduous conducting duties.

October 11:  Salome with Karita Mattila baring all or, perhaps, near-all.

November 8:  Doctor Atomic.  A new production of the John Adams opera starring Gerald Finley as Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer and Sasha Cooke as his wife, Kitty, with Eric Owen and Richard Paul Fink. Alan Gilbert conducts.

November 22: La Damnation de Faust.  Robert Lepage directs a “reconceived” version of a co-production of the Saito Kinen Festival and Opéra National de Paris.  Marcello Giordani and Susan Graham star, along with the utterly ubiqitous John Relyea. James Levine conducts.

December 20:  Thaïs.  Renée Fleming salutes the holiday season in the role of a pagan hooker, and isn’t that Thomas Hampson under that monk’s hood?

January 10, 2009:  La Rondine.  The Met’s “Divas Gone Wild Festival” continues with Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna jerking the tears while Marco Armiliato conducts.

January 24: Orfeo.  The Mark Morris dancers tread the stage once more, though they surely won’t drown out Stephanie Blythe.

February 7: Lucia.  Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón are scheduled, but you might want to check back later for updates.
March 7:  Madama Butterfly. The smash hit Anthony Minghella production is telecast for the first time, with Cristina Gallardo-Domâs — one hopes in improved vocal form!

March 21: La Sonnambula.  Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez reunited for Mary Zimmerman’s sophomore directing effort, conducted by Evelino Pidò.

May 9:  La Cenerentola.   Elīna Garanča and Lawrence Brownlee should be pretty damn adorable together.