“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 makes her first coast-to-coast recital tour including Atlanta, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Fort Worth and her Carnegie Hall debut (Weill Hall). Orchestral engagements in the 2007-08 season include performances with the St. Louis Symphony with Jiri Bềlohlŕvek in Mozart’s complete Exsultate, jubilate and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4. She makes her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as a soloist in the Mozart C Minor Mass, conducted by Esa Pekka Salonen and in Berlioz’ Roméo et Juliette, conducted by Valery Gergiev. Read more here.
UPDATE II: New York Sun – Metropolitan Opera Extends Its Populist Mission:
As of this month, the Metropolitan Opera is bringing its populist message to a new audience: schoolchildren. Last Saturday, the Met transmitted “Roméo et Juliette,” starring Anna Netrebko, live via satellite to high-definition screens at five New York City public high schools. Some 2,000 students and family members attended for free. On New Year’s Day, the Met will transmit to the same schools its new production of “Hansel and Gretel.” Today, 2,500 students will spend their last day of school at the Met’s first student open house, watching the final dress rehearsal of “Hansel and Gretel” and learning about how the sets and costumes are made. This outreach to public-school students is a new element in general manager Peter Gelb‘s multipronged effort to bring opera back into the cultural mainstream. Since he took over last year, Mr. Gelb has hired directors from Broadway and Hollywood, lowered the price of the cheapest tickets in the house to $15, and established a rush-ticket program, in which seats that normally cost more than $100 are sold for $20. Mr. Gelb’s initiative to transmit opera live to movie theaters has been perhaps his biggest success. The number of venues was tripled this season to 600, and several other opera companies, including most recently, the San Francisco Opera, have announced plans to start similar programs. The rest is here.
UPDATE III: Oneida Daily Dispatch: –Younger crowd a no-show at Met’s winning live in HD ‘Roméo et Juliette’ in Syracuse:
SYRACUSE – Two things struck me most about the Metropolitan Opera’s high- definition transmission of Gounod’s “Roméo et Juliette,” starring soprano Anna Netrebko as Juliette and tenor Roberto Alagna as Roméo, which on Saturday afternoon launched the second season of “The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD” series. The first was that many of the ravishing things the transmission contained didn’t always occur on stage. The second was that the event at the Regal Carousel Mall nearly filled two theaters yet failed to attract a younger audience. Too bad for them. The rest is here.
UPDATE IV: A personal account by Mad Musings of Me can be found here.