(UPDATES): “Met at the Movies” – Romeo et Juliette (Roberto Alagna, Anna Netrebko)

“Met at the Movies” – apparently this is an official title for a series of HD Broadcasts from Metropolitan Opera to god-only-knows how many places on the surface of the earth, if you are still living in a cave and have not heard about this program (that entered its second year on 12/15 with a broadcast of Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette), then feel very very guilty and check out the information here

A friend from an operatically advanced Portland and I went to a performance at a local movie theater.  I think that despite very cold weather, a depressingly old age of the audience and an enormous amount of Russian-speaking opera lovers, we have managed to enjoy the broadcast. I think the whole “behind-the-scenes” segments between acts were very poorly done and I found them to be very distracting and, honestly, anticlimactic.  Alanga was great, even if too old to play a teenager in love, and Netrebko was a bit weak, I thought, in the first couple of Acts when she had to play a silly young girl in love, but she got increasingly better(both singing and acting) as things got a bit more tragic and gloomy – the finale was quite excellent!

This is a recap from Met’s Blog: Posted by Matt Dobkin on 12/15/2007

Today was the first of the Met’s 8 high-definition transmissions this season, and the excitement in the opera house was palpable. TV trucks were parked behind the house on Amsterdam Avenue, and camera crews raced around the house capturing behind-the-scenes action for the international audience.

During the scene changes of the first half of Roméo et Juliette, cameras caught baritone Nathan Gunn joking with a stage manager as the set was put into place. The opera’s Juliette, superstar Anna Netrebko, could be seen getting helped into her gauzy robe with the help of a dresser, before ascending the stairs to Juliette’s balcony.

During intermission, another star soprano – Renée Fleming – took on the role of special interview, chatting with Netrebko and her co-star Roberto Alagna in a backstage dressing room about the challenges of playing the famous teenage lovebirds. A chatty Alagna elicited laughs from the divas when he claimed to be “very shy”. As Fleming introduced a video clip, Netrebko hammed it up for the camera, doing a dance behind her soprano colleague.

Later in the intermission, Fleming escorted Plácido Domingo, who was conducting the show, to the orchestra pit for the third act, chatting with the legendary tenor for the live movie-theater audience about his 40-year Met career.

At this writing, the performance has just ended and the audience is still applauding. Check back for updates and photos!

This is a review of La Scena Musicale (Toronto broadcast):

This performance of Romeo et Juliette starred Russian diva Anna Netrebko and French tenor Robert Alagna who replaced an ailing Rolando Villazon. While I was disappointed at Villazon’s absence, Alagna proved to be a worthy replacement. Both took some time to warm up – Netrebko’s opening aria had smudged coloratura, and Alagna sounded a little dry of voice. Near the end of Act 1, both were in fine form, particularly Netrebko whose gleaming voice was a pleasure. Her dark hued lirico-spinto sounded full and opulent, her irrepressible personality in full display. Romeo is a perfect vehicle for Alagna, who has sung this to great acclaim in the past. The rest here.

UPDATE I:  That really hot mezzo-soprano that played Stephano was Isobel Leonard, this was her debut with the Met (not this performance, but this opera at the Met), and I thought she was very good and did I mention very hot?:

In September 2007, Ms. Leonard made her Metropolitan Opera debut, to great acclaim, as Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette, conducted by Plácido Domingo and starring Anna Netrebko and Roberto Alagna. This production will also be recorded for video and television transmission and broadcast live over the Metropolitan Opera worldwide radio network. In addition to her Metropolitan Opera debut, she appears as Zerlina in Don Gioivanni with Chicago Opera Theatre and Cherubino in a new production of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Santa Fe Opera, Summer 2008. She


10 thoughts on “(UPDATES): “Met at the Movies” – Romeo et Juliette (Roberto Alagna, Anna Netrebko)

  1. mikhail–I just looked around your site a little, had no idea you’ve got one of the best classical music blogs on the web. I use Ballet Talk a lot, and posted the Stockhausen obituary there. (discussion board, very restrictive, no bad language of my sort, etc.) Will be looking more and more at your archives. In 80s heard a performance of Jubilee at New York Philharmonic, and also am fond of many of the piano pieces, the Klavierstucke, etc. Good for you.

  2. They are also doing ‘Nutcracker’ from both San Francisco Ballet and National Ballet of Canada at movie houses with DigiScreen on Dec. 22. Probably too frivolous for you, although I’d see one of them. They are, however, in mostly small cities. I don’t know how it works.

  3. Thanks JdC, i try – i don’t really like the term “classical music” but for the lack of the better one – i do like Nutcracker but i didn’t realize it was so popular in the U S of A (and Canada, i assume) around Christmas time…

  4. As a long time Met subuscriber in the past (I now live in AZ)
    the world of opera has once again become available to me. This is the second year I’ve take advantage of “opera at the movies”, and have not once been disappointed. The performances have been wonderful. Romeo and Julliette was particularly beautiful and moving. The backstage interviews and views of the activity between scenes are enlightening, as is the ability to watch the conductor conduct and the orchestra play. This series has been soul-satifying for a long-time opera lover. Please, sir – more more more!

    Have finally convinced some friends and family that opera is more than (schreeching – their discription). I can now afford to introduce opera to my skeptical grandson.

  5. “Schreeching”! That is a great word! I hope you do not begin your operatic education with Wozzeck

    although I do agree with you regarding the good that broadcasts will do for the general education of the masses about opera, I do think that going to the actual performance might be good as well – I think it can be life-transforming and absolutely mind-blowing – were I to have a grandson, I would certainly take a trip to the Met or, if you are in AZ, drive him to Santa Fe in the summer for a performance. I know I will be there 🙂

  6. The 2006-2007 broadcast of i Puritani with Netrebko is not only available on DVD, but on Amazon.com shows a release date of December 2007. Extrapolating from that, I would hope that the R&J will be released before the end of the year.

    I’m sure that Gelb intends to “leverage” (as the children say) his investment in these HD broadcasts by releasing every one that makes sense in DVD format. Almost certainly that would include every Netrebko vehicle.

    I saw both i Puritani and R&J at the Met, saw R&J again in the cinema, and intend to own both of them on DVD.

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