Since 2006, the Metropolitan Opera, based in New York City, has been transmitting selected performances live in HD to movie theaters worldwide, and I recently attended several of these performances at a theater near my home. I have also attended live opera many times across the country and even overseas. The obvious question – How does seeing an opera in a movie theater compare to seeing it on stage in an opera hall? It’s not as straightforward as you might think.
There is a lot to recommend the movie theater option. Accessibility is a huge consideration. I live near Seattle, and to attend an opera there, I must fight through horrendous traffic and pay quite a lot just to park. Getting to the movie theater was an easy drive, and parking was free. While nowhere near as grand as an opera house, the theater had comfy leather chairs that reclined almost all the way back. And there were cup holders. Those chairs were certainly more comfortable than the seats at any opera house I have ever been to. Continue reading
The Metropolitan Opera opened its 2016-2017 season with the Wagnerian favorite, Tristan und Isolde. Directed by Mariusz Trelinski, it featured a strong cast including Nina Stemme as Isolde, Stuart Skelton as Tristan, and Ekaterina Gubanova as Brangäne. With the orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, this had all the makings of a great production.
Unfortunately, a relentless onslaught of truly bizarre staging torpedoed it from beginning to end. It was set on a modern naval vessel, but it was difficult to figure out just what sort of crew this was supposed to be. Tristan was dressed in a formal naval uniform, complete with emblems of rank and a chest full of ribbons. The rest of the crew, on the other hand, were a motley assortment of thugs who looked like they’d be far more at home smuggling heroin than escorting the king’s intended bride. There was certainly nothing resembling military discipline on board. The sailors lost no opportunity to leer at the women and menace them. One went so far as to smell some of Isolde’s lingerie before stealing it. These goons were supposed to be an honor guard? Continue reading