I finally got around to the Met-at-the-movies experience–twice in the last month–and was immediately hooked. In an experiment begun on a smaller scale last year, the Metropolitan Opera’s transmitting live HDTV broadcasts of eleven productions to movie theaters around the world, including Evanston’s Century 12, where I saw Hector Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust last Saturday and John Adams’s Dr. Atomic two weeks earlier.
It’s not like being at the Met, but it’s not like any small-screen opera broadcast either. You plunk down $24 for a ticket (preferably in advance: last week’s show was a sell out), fight off the cane-and-walker contingent for a seat, and settle in with popcorn and Twizzlers for excellent sound and a more dynamic view than you’d get at the opera house, even in the $200 seats. You are, of course, at the mercy of the camera–whether pointing up the diva’s nose or at some corner of the set–but most of time that’s much better than a stationary point of view. And when the camera meanders backstage during intermission, it’s fascinating. The only bone I have to pick is with the darkness of the projected image. Both shows played out in a soporific twilight that left me thinking HD has something to learn from Technicolor. I’m sure they’re working on that. Next up: Jules Massenet’s Thais, at noon, December 20. Info here.