High-definition live transmissions beamed from New York’s Metropolitan Opera and other major houses to movie theaters across the country are becoming the new normal for enjoying the genre.
The seventh season of “Met: Live in HD” is showing in 1,900 theaters in 60 countries. In the Bay Area, presentations are being held at select Cinemark, Regal and AMC theaters, with live showings at 9:55 a.m. Saturdays for most operas. Encore presentations are on Wednesdays, typically several weeks after the live openings.
The next event in the Met series is Wednesday’s encore of Thomas Ades’ “The Tempest,” with the composer conducting his opera based on Shakespeare’s play.
In this staging, Canadian director Robert Lepage (responsible for the Met’s recent Wagner “Ring”) places the production in the interior of the 18th-century La Scala opera house rather than the story’s original island setting.
New York Times music critic Anthony Tomassini called the work “one of the most inspired, audacious and personal operas to have come along in years.”
Next up is “La Clemenza di Tito.” Written by Mozart in 1791, the last year of his life, it is a dramatic opera about intrigue and political struggle in ancient Rome. Giuseppe Filianoti sings the title role; the production also features mezzo Elina Garanca as Sesto (a role originally written for a castrato) and soprano Barbara Frittoli as Vitellia.
Verdi’s 1859 “Un Ballo in Maschera” follows, in director David Alden’s dreamlike production of this story of jealousy and vengeance. Marcelo Alvarez stars as the conflicted king, Sondra Radvanovsky is Amelia, the object of his secret passion, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky is her suspicious husband. Stephanie Blythe sings the role of fortune-teller Ulrica.
Another Verdi work, the 1871 “Aida,” features Liudmyla Monastyrska, a new, young Ukrainian star, as the enslaved Ethiopian princess. Radamès is sung by Roberto Alagna, and Egyptian princess Amneris is sung by Olga Borodina.
One of the Met season’s most awaited productions is Berlioz’s mighty 1858 drama about the Trojan War, “Les Troyens,” a 5½-hour epic.
Two San Francisco Opera Merola-Adler program veterans, Deborah Voigt and Susan Graham, sing leading roles, along with Marcello Giordani and Dwayne Croft. Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leads the large-scale musical forces.