Fantastic News for Opera Fans: The Met in HD !! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 142 Old 09-07-2006, 03:53 AM - Thread Starter
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In this morning's Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...090602018.html

Live Opera To Come To Movie Theaters
Met to Transmit 6 Shows; Others Available Online

By Tim Page
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 7, 2006; Page C01

The Metropolitan Opera will begin transmitting live performances to movie theaters throughout the United States, Canada and Europe next year as part of an extraordinary and unprecedented arrangement among the company, its unions and several media partners.

"Opera now enters the digital era," Peter Gelb, the Met's new general manager, said yesterday.

Beginning Dec. 30, the Met will transmit six of its performances live -- with state-of-the-art sound and high-definition imagery -- to movie theaters equipped with special projection systems and satellite dishes throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. After 30 days, the new productions will be presented on PBS stations throughout the country.

A new contract, announced yesterday, also permits the Met to enter into other partnerships as well, with the possibility of digital downloads, video-on-demand, digital radio, ring tones, CDs, DVDs and instant CDs available after certain performances.

One hundred additional live performances will be broadcast either over the Internet or on digital radio, with another 1,500 broadcasts from the past 75 years -- the Met's entire recorded history -- to be made available soon through an audio-on-demand service.

"It's only possible because the unions have put their faith in our ability to deliver what we promised them -- a means to build the audience and secure the health of the Met -- and, indeed, the health of opera as an art form," Gelb said in an interview. "Our audience is aging fast, and this technology will help us galvanize a new generation."

Six matinees will be produced for next season: a Dec. 30 production of Mozart's "Magic Flute," directed by Julie Taymor and conducted by James Levine; Bellini's "I Puritani," with Anna Netrebko, on Jan. 6; the world premiere of Tan Dun's "The First Emperor," with Placido Domingo in the title role, on Jan. 13; Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin," with Renee Fleming and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, on Feb. 24; a new staging of Rossini's "The Barber of Seville," with Juan Diego Florez, on March 24; and a new production of Puccini's "Il Trittico," conducted by Levine, on April 28.

"This will all work a little like the movies, down to the fact that we're starting out with Saturday matinees," Gelb said. "First, we have the live experience, whether at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York or on a screen. That creates a buzz and an awareness for repeat performances, which will then be shown at home on PBS and then made available on DVD or from downloading."

"In the early days of the Met broadcasts, back in the 1930s, whole communities used to gather around the radio to listen," he continued. "This is the 21st-century modernization of that experience. Opera fans are as fanatical about opera as baseball fans are about baseball. We want to make the Met as available electronically to its followers as the Yankees are to theirs."

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post #2 of 142 Old 09-07-2006, 10:08 AM
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This is terrific. I have fond memories of growing up and listening to the Sat. afternoon opera on NPR while reading a book or doing some chores around the house.

It would be even better if it was distributed in HD via sat and cable with PBS or Discovery HD.

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post #3 of 142 Old 09-07-2006, 11:18 AM
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A decade or two ago, "Live From The Met" was a much more frequent fixture on PBS. Then it became more infrequent. Still, I recall seeing "The Metropolitan Opera presents....." a couple of times each year, and the recent ones were in HD !!

Does that mean we'll see less of these? And if they're going to screened like closed-circuit PPV boxing, I would expect there will be a longer delay window before these pop up on PBS-HD, Blue-Ray or HD-DVD. 30 days would be acceptable.
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post #4 of 142 Old 09-07-2006, 11:52 AM
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Tyson vs. La Traviata

What are they thinking?

Over two hundred channels of corporate dribble to the home and no one can make this work on one of them.
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post #5 of 142 Old 09-07-2006, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe3 View Post

Tyson vs. La Traviata

Tyson: the opera

Don't all operas end tragically?
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post #6 of 142 Old 09-07-2006, 09:08 PM
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Opera is just too dangerous:

"Suicide squirrel in opera-hating kamikaze bike spoke mangle"

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/09..._opera_singer/

.

There he goes again... Good Ol' R. Reagan's favorite Troll line !
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post #7 of 142 Old 09-07-2006, 11:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JCL View Post

Tyson: the opera

Sounds like a job for John Adams, who wrote "Nixon in China", "The Death of Klinghoffer" (on that cruise ship that was hijacked by terrorists), and "Doctor Atomic" (J. Robert Oppenheimer and the first A-bomb).

"Bush in Baghdad," anyone?
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post #8 of 142 Old 11-23-2006, 10:06 AM - Thread Starter
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An article in Tuesday's Washington Post described the Met's plans for operas in HD this winter and spring.

Six of the Met's performances at Lincoln Center (NYC) will be transmitted live to movie theaters throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., on selected dates. The Washington, D.C. area, for example, will have only two venues (both are actually in the northern Virginia suburbs).

Here's the best part: After a 30-day period, recorded versions of the Met performances will be presented on PBS-HD stations!! I added 30 days to each of the dates below to show the approximate date of the TV broadcast, and noted these in [brackets] in the schedule below

Quote:


All HD broadcasts are live at:
1:30 pm EST (12:30 pm CST, 11:30 am MST, 10:30 am PST)
6:30 pm GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

The Magic Flute, December 30, 2006 [PBS-HD o/a January 29, 2007]
Celebrated director and filmmaker Julie Taymor, who directed The Lion King on Broadway, brings her dynamic theatrical vision to Mozart's The Magic Flute. Dancing bears, flying birds, a giant serpentall are brought vividly to life through Taymor's ingenious use of puppetry. This abridged 100-minute version of Mozart's opera is sung in English and features a winning young cast conducted by beloved Met Maestro James Levine.

I Puritani, January 6, 2007 [PBS-HD o/a February 5, 2007]
The sensational Russian soprano Anna Netrebko (Audrey Hepburn with a voice, according to one critic) has taken the opera world by storm, dazzling audiences in Vienna, Milan, Berlin, New York, and Los Angeles. Now she inhabits the role of the fragile Elvira in Bellini's I Puritani, who delivers one of opera's wildest mad scenes when she is abandoned at the altar. With its vocal fireworks and opportunities for real acting, this has been a supreme role for great singing actresses from Maria Callas to Beverly Sills.

The First Emperor, January 13, 2007 [PBS-HD o/a February 12, 2007]
The world-premiere broadcast of Chinese composer Tan Dun's epic opera, The First Emperor, features the legendary tenor Plácido Domingo as Emperor Qin, who built the Great Wall and gave China its name. Tan Dun's music is a fascinating mix of East and West, and the monumental production is staged by revered Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern and House of Flying Daggers), with costumes by Oscar-winning designer Emi Wada (Kurosawa's Ran).

Eugene Onegin, February 24, 2007 [PBS-HD o/a March 26, 2007]
The beloved American soprano Renée Fleming joins Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky for this broadcast of Tchaikovsky's gorgeous and lyrical Eugene Onegin. The sweeping dramatic arc of this operayouthful longing, rejection, regret, a desperate plea that comes too lateis perfectly mirrored in Tchaikovsky's achingly beautiful music and in the stunning lighting of this strikingly minimal production.

The Barber of Seville (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), March 24, 2007 [PBS-HD o/a April 23, 2007]
The instantly familiar music of Rossini's The Barber of Seville (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) has been featured in cartoons, commercials, and TV shows galore, but it's best heard in its original form, where its infectious charm and bubbling joy are given free reign. In the Met's new production, by acclaimed theater director Bartlett Sher and his Tony Award-winning team from The Light in the Piazza, the dashing young Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez proves why he is one of the world's greatest Rossini singers, in his calling-card role of Count Almaviva.

Il Trittico, April 28, 2007 [PBS-HD o/a May 28, 2007]
Jealousy, murder, suicide, religious rapture, intrigue, young love! No, it isn't a soap opera it's Puccini's triple-bill of one-act operas, Il Trittico. This gripping new production by Broadway luminary (and Tony Award-winner) Jack O'Brien and a team of leading theater designers showcases the amazing technical resources of the Met stage as well as a brilliant ensemble cast, not to mention Puccini at his most hauntingly lyrical and dramatic. The Met's celebrated music director, James Levine, conducts.

http://www.metoperafamily.org/metope...hd_events.aspx

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post #9 of 142 Old 11-23-2006, 10:53 AM
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I had quite a few Met offerings on Laserdisc order through the Met Guild. I still receive the Guild's catalog, However no more purchases until the offerings are in some sort of HD format.

I would love to build a HD-DVD library since opera, unlike a movie, will be viewed many, many time.

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post #10 of 142 Old 11-23-2006, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dneily View Post

The Washington, D.C. area, for example, will have only two venues (both are actually in the northern Virginia suburbs).

I was afraid that my nearest venue would be in Atlanta (3.5 hours away) or Charlotte (2 hours away), but amazingly, there's one in Greenville SC, about 45 minutes from here. I'll definitely check this out to see how it compares with the eventual PBS broadcast. Thanks for the heads-up!
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post #11 of 142 Old 11-25-2006, 06:02 AM
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Great news for opera fans, I used to like listening to them back when I had a part time job on saturdays cleaning a church. Good music to mop floors by. In the the Atlanta area we don't have any PBS stations that show HD, one's analog still and the other only sd. Maybe some influential opera fans will spur them on to provide us with HD programming.
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post #12 of 142 Old 11-25-2006, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spike jones View Post

Great news for opera fans, I used to like listening to them back when I had a part time job on saturdays cleaning a church. Good music to mop floors by. In the the Atlanta area we don't have any PBS stations that show HD, one's analog still and the other only sd. Maybe some influential opera fans will spur them on to provide us with HD programming.

So you get twice the amount of fund raising same as we do.
Tampa also has two public broadcasting stations; both digital but only one with HD.

The Tampa PBS affiliate has the most God awful continuous station logo on its SD, but, so far, the HD feed has been logo free.

The non PBS station does broadcast 4 subchannels of educational programs, plus they have some pretty good classic movies. But no HD yet.

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post #13 of 142 Old 11-25-2006, 04:13 PM
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Interesting.

The Royal Opera House at Covent Garden in London has had a number of its productions covered in HD over the past few years - some broadcast live, or recorded, in SD on BBC Two and/or BBC Four. Be interesting to see if the next one is broadcast in HD on BBC HD.

I've seen HD excerpts, and they look stunning. HD coverage of opera really enhances it, allowing you to stay wider for longer, to see the staging more effectively at times.
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post #14 of 142 Old 12-03-2006, 08:59 AM
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I just found this thread after stumbling on a broadcast this morning of Il Trovatore from the Royal Opera House Covent Gardens, on HD Discovery Theatre. It was a BBC production.

Anybody know if this will be repeated? I only caught the final scene.

Something tells me there is more of this out there if I just knew where and when to look.
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post #15 of 142 Old 12-03-2006, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brush Mountain View Post

I just found this thread after stumbling on a broadcast this morning of Il Trovatore from the Royal Opera House Covent Gardens, on HD Discovery Theatre. It was a BBC production.

Anybody know if this will be repeated? I only caught the final scene.

Something tells me there is more of this out there if I just knew where and when to look.

Most BBC coverage of the Royal Opera House productions of the last few years (possibly longer) has been originated in HD (they used 3rd party facilities before the Beeb had their own HD trucks) - so there should be quite a few BBC Royal Opera productions on a shelf somewhere.

(Searching for "Covent Garden" or "Royal Opera" on an online TV listings service might be useful)
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post #16 of 142 Old 12-07-2006, 04:13 AM - Thread Starter
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I now have the exact date and time for The Magic Flute:

January 24, 9 p.m. E.T.

The broadcast is only 90 minutes. Is this an abridged production?

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post #17 of 142 Old 12-07-2006, 07:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dneily View Post

I now have the exact date and time for The Magic Flute:

January 24, 9 p.m. E.T.

The broadcast is only 90 minutes. Is this an abridged production?

According to the Met site, yes -- the theatrical broadcast was listed that way.

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post #18 of 142 Old 12-07-2006, 08:59 AM - Thread Starter
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I have a recording of Magic Flute on CD. It runs 2 hours, 36 minutes, and that does not account for any intro or breaks between acts.

I wonder what they're cutting, and why they're cutting. I wonder if they are also trimming the performances beamed to movie theaters.

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post #19 of 142 Old 12-07-2006, 05:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rosenkavalier View Post

According to the Met site, yes -- the theatrical broadcast was listed that way.

It's now showing up in the listings of my local Cineplex Odeon theatres too. It is listed as an abridged version sung in English. To me, it sounds like a "Reader's Digest version" of The Magic Flute. It is also the only one telecast that's scheduled during the holidays, presumably to capture the youth market.

http://www.cineplex.com/content/inde...ropolitanopera
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post #20 of 142 Old 12-09-2006, 01:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brush Mountain View Post

I just found this thread after stumbling on a broadcast this morning of Il Trovatore from the Royal Opera House Covent Gardens, on HD Discovery Theatre. It was a BBC production.

Anybody know if this will be repeated? I only caught the final scene.

Something tells me there is more of this out there if I just knew where and when to look.

Look in Discovery HD website. They used to broadcast BBC productions such as
Aida, Carmen, Die Fliedermaus and Il Trovatore on Friday night rotations so that
you get to watch an episode every two or three months. Now they do them
on Sunday mornings. They have not added a new episode since they added Tosca
last February.

Sal
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post #21 of 142 Old 12-09-2006, 08:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dneily View Post

I wonder if they are also trimming the performances beamed to movie theaters.

The theatre broadcasts are LIVE. No cutting. Better hope there are no wardrobe malfunctions...
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post #22 of 142 Old 12-13-2006, 08:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dneily View Post

I have a recording of Magic Flute on CD. It runs 2 hours, 36 minutes, and that does not account for any intro or breaks between acts.

I wonder what they're cutting, and why they're cutting. I wonder if they are also trimming the performances beamed to movie theaters.

If I read it right, the version that is being performed live (and then replayed later on PBS) is the ~90 minute version - - so there isn't going to be two versions, or a live version and a replay "short edit".

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post #23 of 142 Old 12-13-2006, 08:53 PM
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This may be a little far-fetched, but do you think this will open up the opera to a whole new fan base? Since people are clamoring for HD content... ANY HD content, this could be a great way for people to sample something they may not otherwise try.
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post #24 of 142 Old 12-14-2006, 05:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dneily View Post

I have a recording of Magic Flute on CD. It runs 2 hours, 36 minutes, and that does not account for any intro or breaks between acts.

I wonder what they're cutting, and why they're cutting. I wonder if they are also trimming the performances beamed to movie theaters.

This is a special shortened, English-language version of die Zauberflote produced to entertain children. You can read about it on the Met's website here .
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post #25 of 142 Old 12-14-2006, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanDad View Post

This may be a little far-fetched, but do you think this will open up the opera to a whole new fan base? Since people are clamoring for HD content... ANY HD content, this could be a great way for people to sample something they may not otherwise try.

Could be - especially if the music is familiar through TV commercials or other use. (I got in to Die Zauberfloete because the Queen of the Night aria was used, of all things, in a science programme to demonstrate an experiment in a computer singing!) The English National Opera usually perform their stuff in English for the same reason - if you can understand the language without having to resort to surtitles (if you're there) or subtitles (if you are a viewer), a barrier can be removed.

Personally I love opera in Italian and German (I speak very little Italian and bad German but love the sound of the language) - but I also enjoy the English language ENO productions as well. I've been fortunate enough to go to live performances at both the Royal Opera House (in Covent Garden - where stuff was performed in the language it was originally written in) and the Coliseum (where the ENO performed in English). I thoroughly enjoyed both - as well as the TV stuff.

There is a great reality TV series on BBC Two at the moment over here called "The Choir". It follows a really enthusiastic young choir master - over 3 episodes of an hour each - as he creates a classical 4 part harmony choir in a London Secondary school (in quite a deprived area) with no history of choral singing - and charts their progress to the international choir olympics in China. It is a fascinating and inspirational watch - as London kids who've never sung anything but Pop, Rock or R&B, suddenly gain such a feeling of accomplishment as they sing classical music well. I suspect after the final episode next week there won't be a dry eye in the viewing audience - the trail-aheads look really emotional.

I was lucky enough to go to a state grammar school in the UK where there was a strong history of choral singing - and it really hits home how much you miss out if you can sing but don't get the opportunity and leadership to do so.

(Totally off topic - sorry)
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post #26 of 142 Old 12-30-2006, 12:43 PM
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Did anyone catch the performance in a theater? What can we look forward to next month on PBS?
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post #27 of 142 Old 12-30-2006, 03:19 PM
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I guess this is not really an HD question... but....

For those who watched it in a theater, did anyone in the theater applaud at the end? If they were shouting "bravo", to whom is it intended for?
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post #28 of 142 Old 12-31-2006, 08:01 AM
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I'll bet they did. And why not? To those folks, they are at the Met. The only time I felt the urge to applaud (but caught myself before I did) was while watching a screening of "Chicago" (the movie.) Of course, it was trying to recreate a Broadway show, so that was part of the intent.

I also heard that most of the US theaters that carried the broadcast were sold out. Same thing for the European theaters. Could be just the "opening day" syndrome, but maybe not...
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post #29 of 142 Old 01-01-2007, 08:50 AM - Thread Starter
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This morning's Washington Post had a favorable review of the opening performance at the Met. The Met production team claims they avoided "dummying down" the opera, even though the heaving editing and English-language conversion make the opera more kid-friendly. The article especially praised the performances of the Zarastro and the Queen of the Night roles.

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post #30 of 142 Old 01-01-2007, 09:35 AM
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OPERA REVIEW
Mozart in HD at the local cineplex
The Met beams 'The Magic Flute' live around the globe, but there are a few false notes
By James C. Taylor Special to The Los Angeles Times January 1, 2007
(Times staff writer Sherry Stern in Irvine contributed to this report.)

In opera, as the old adage goes, it ain't over till the fat lady sings. But in a grand experiment, one Digital Age opera performance was almost over before the proverbial fat lady could be heard.

The Metropolitan Opera's first live, high-definition transmission of Mozart's "The Magic Flute" to 100 movie theaters around the world went off with a few hitches Saturday morning.

At the AMC Burbank 16, minutes into the performance the Three Ladies had slain the dragon and had just begun to sing "Rejoice" the audio dropped out as well. It remained choppy for the rest of their number. Then, when Papageno made his entrance, the picture went out as well. The audience was deflated.

The Met's new, abridged English-language version of Mozart's extravaganza, directed by Julie Taymor, was transmitted to Burbank and Irvine (glitch-free) at 10:30 a.m. (No screenings were held within the 213, 323 or 310 area codes a point many ticket holders grumbled about.)

Before curtain, the suburban shopping area outside the multiplex vaguely resembled the plaza in front of the Met, with opera fans holding signs reading: "Need One Ticket." According to the theater manager, all 183 seats sold out the first day the $18 tickets went on sale.

Undaunted by the sellout, one woman left her home in Malibu at 7 a.m. in hopes of scoring a seat for the Burbank showing (she got one). By 10:25 a.m., the people waiting for returns outnumbered the ticket holders for morning screenings of "We Are Marshall" and "Blood Diamond" down the hall.

Inside the theater, the audience was a mix of opera aficionados, music professionals and Taymor fans plus a few who had seen the trailer and were "just curious." Ted, a night concierge at the Farmer's Daughter Motel who declined to give his last name, proudly showed off his tickets to all three Met simulcasts this month (each of which is sold out at the Burbank AMC). Marilyn White and her husband drove from Palos Verdes, despite seeing the Met's full-length, German-language version of "Die Zauberflöte" in New York last week. "We thought it would be fun to see it in English," she said. Vikki Hillebrand, 95, put it simply: "Opera with popcorn now that's a first."

The Burbank crowd was already buzzing by the time the lights went down and the Met's general director, Peter Gelb, appeared on-screen; excitement palpably rippled through the aisles when he introduced Katie Couric. The CBS news anchor read a few nice things about Mozart and then introduced James Levine. The Met's maestro raised his baton, the overture began and the live music was soon accompanied by a (prerecorded) montage of actors putting on costumes and makeup complete with titles in the manner of a film's opening credits.

The opera began in earnest with Tamino (sung by Matthew Polenzani) chased by one of Taymor's giant puppet-dragons. Polenzani's voice was clear, and the HD image of the flamboyant production was vivid. The idea of opera in movie theaters appeared to be a perfect fit.

Then the music died.

The video feed was soon restored, but the audio remained spotty, culminating in the surreal experience of hearing the Queen of the Night's famous high-F aria ("Oh tremble not") as a duet with digital static. This prompted laughter from the audience and more than a few walkouts one who advised people to "go rent the Bergman movie."

The audio problems continued throughout the 105-minute show, reaching a nadir when the sound went out completely under René Pape, arguably opera's preeminent bass. Pape looked like a fish gasping for air as he mouthed Sarastro's gorgeous music in silence. A theater representative quickly announced that refunds would be issued. Many audience members got up and left.

The show did go on. Roughly two-thirds of the crowd stuck it out. They were rewarded by finally hearing the fat lady actually, svelte soprano Erika Miklósa sing. The demons in the circuitry took a break during the Queen's second number. Her famous aria was entirely audible, with each coloratura curlicue heard cleanly. The audience roared as much in appreciation for finally being able to listen to a full number as for Miklósa's performance.

When Mozart's last notes faded and the lights went up, the woman from Malibu was still there, but Ted, the night concierge, was not. In the lobby, there was an air of disappointment. "There's no excuse for this," said Steven Rosenthall, who used to work in cable television. "There are five networks in L.A. that have hi-def. This is not new technology." Noa Winter Lazerus, a composer, admitted he was saddened but insisted: "I love the concept, and I think people will give it another chance."

At the Edwards Irvine Spectrum 21, a full house applauded before, during and after the screening. With more than 500 seats, that theater was considerably larger than Burbank's and brought people from across Orange County and as far as the Valley and Pasadena.

Jerry Sternbach of Woodland Hills made the drive because "I, being an opera fan, wanted to support this. It's historical."

According to the Met, the broadcasts aired successfully to nearly 30,000 people around the world except in Burbank and in Jacksonville, Fla., where nothing showed up on the screen. Lauren Leff, a spokesperson for National CineMedia (the company that oversees the technical side to the telecasts), said the problems were the result of unspecified "localized difficulties."

A technical team has been dispatched, and assurances were made for next week's presentation of "I Puritani" (also playing locally at the Edwards Renaissance 14 in Alhambra), but Leff added, "when things are live, problems do occasionally happen."

Those who prefer going to opera houses instead of just listening to perfected, studio recordings know this fact and to some degree cherish it. Illness, nerves and booing (i.e., last month's La Scala fracas) have historically hampered live opera performances. Now we can add computer error to that tradition.

These technical difficulties must be ironed out, but what was seen and heard (in between bursts of static) at the Burbank multiplex did show promise. The imaginative but dramatically inert Taymor production plays much better on-screen than onstage, and Nathan Gunn (as Papageno) appeared to be a performer whose looks and talents seem perfectly suited for this new medium.

This "Magic Flute" was commissioned and chosen as the debut broadcast because of its accessibility to families. April Hamilton of LaVerne brought her two children to Burbank and said that despite the problems, her son, Daegan, 11, and daughter, Aidan, 5, enjoyed the show. "Daegan liked the dragon, and Aidan was air-conducting," she said, "it was a good introduction for them." Schuyler Girion, 12, of Sherman Oaks came with her grandmother and summed the event up best: "I liked it except for the scratchy parts."

http://www.calendarlive.com/stage/re...93,print.story


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