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Washington DC
Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD: Splendor on the Screen
Story by Ruth J. Katz

he 2016-17 season of "The Met: Live in HD" began earlier this month, with the nearly five-hour marathon of the exquisite Tristan und Isolde, which marked the Met series' 100th transmission and kicked off the 11th year of the program (launched in 2006). And I say, hip hip hooray to the Met; may there be countless more transmissions. Once thought of as the domain of cultural elitists, opera has garnered a wider audience because of these accessible broadcasts, available in 675 select US movie theaters through Fathom Events and its Digital Broadcast Network. Additionally, the Met distributes to another 1,300 venues internationally, in 70 countries. To date, over 20 million tickets have been sold, with the average price hovering around US$23. Not a bad price to pay for a full-scale, lavish, stunningly staged production.

As animated on the big screen, the Live in HD simulcasts offer an up close and personal look at the opera's staging – beads of sweat-on-the-brow, and all – that is truly thrilling. Moreover, with the easy-to-read supertitles, it is simple to follow along, even with some of opera's more convoluted plots. Additionally, the Saturday afternoon simulcasts are often duplicated on the following Wednesday evenings, with an encore screening. The transmissions are accompanied by engrossing intermission segments – behind the scenes, say, with the prop or costume department, or an interview with the "hot, new" tenor or soprano, or an informative segment about the composer, librettist, or story line, all of which help to place the opera's message in historic context. It is always a rewarding afternoon, culturally, educationally, visually, and auditorily.

Fathom Events is one of the largest overall distributors of content to movie theaters and well known for its domestic presentations of event-cinema, including high-definition performances of not only the Metropolitan Opera, but also dance and theater productions, such as the Bolshoi Ballet and the National Theatre's Hamlet, as well as classic film presentations. "We are proud to continue this partnership with the Metropolitan Opera and excited to launch this season with the 100th broadcast, which is a true milestone," noted Fathom Events CEO John Rubey.

This season's ten Met presentations include five brand-new operas, three operas new to the series, and the return of all-time favorites Don Giovanni and La Traviata. Tickets for "The Met: Live in HD" 2016-17 season can be purchased online at or at participating theater box offices. For a complete list of theater locations, visit the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).

The complete roster is as follows (encores available in select theaters only):

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera, photo by Marty Sohl

1. DON GIOVANNI (Mozart)

Saturday, October 22, 2016 - 12:55 p.m. ET / 11:55 a.m. CT/ 10:55 a.m. MT/ 9:55 a.m. PT

Encore presentation: Wednesday, October 26 – 6:30 p.m. local time

Simon Keenlyside makes his Met role debut as the unrepentant seducer in Tony Award-winner Michael Grandage's staging of Mozart's masterpiece. Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leads a cast that includes Hibla Gerzmava as Donna Anna, Malin Byström as Donna Elvira, Serena Malfi as Zerlina, Adam Plachetka as Leporello, Matthew Rose as Masetto, Kwangchul Youn as the Commendatore and Rolando Villazón in his Live in HD debut as Don Ottavio.

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera, photo by Kristian Schuller

2. L'AMOUR DE LOIN (Saariaho) – Met Premiere

Saturday, December 10, 2016 - 12:55 p.m. ET / 11:55 a.m. CT/ 10:55 a.m. MT/ 9:55 a.m. PT

Encore presentation: Wednesday, December 14 – 6:30 p.m. local time

One of the most highly-praised operas of recent years, which had its premiere at the Salzburg Festival in 2000, Kaija Saariaho's yearning medieval romance L'Amour de Loin (Love from Afar), has its Met premiere this season. The production is by Robert Lepage, co-produced with L'Opéra de Québec, where it premiered to acclaim last summer, in collaboration with Ex Machina. Debuting Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki leads the performance, which stars Susanna Phillips as Clémence, Eric Owens as Jaufré, and Tamara Mumford as the Pilgrim who carries messages of love between them.

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera, photo by Marty Sohl

3. NABUCCO (Verdi) – First time in HD

Saturday, January 7, 2017 - 12:55 p.m. ET / 11:55 a.m. CT/ 10:55 a.m. MT/ 9:55 a.m. PT

Encore presentation: Wednesday, January 11 – 6:30 p.m. local time

Met Music Director Emeritus James Levine conducts Verdi's early drama of Ancient Babylon, Nabucco, with Plácido Domingo adding a new role to his repertory as the title character. Liudmyla Monastyrska sings the tour-de-force role of Abigaille, Nabucco's willful daughter, with Jamie Barton as Fenena, Russell Thomas as Ismaele and Dmitri Belosselskiy as the prophet Zaccaria, the role of his 2011 Met debut.

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera, photo by Kristian Schuller

4. ROMÉO ET JULIETTE (Gounod) – New production

Saturday, January 21, 2017 - 12:55 p.m. ET / 11:55 a.m. CT/ 10:55 a.m. MT/ 9:55 a.m. PT

Encore presentation: Wednesday, January 25 – 6:30 p.m. local time

The electrifying team of Vittorio Grigolo and Diana Damrau reunites for a new production of Gounod's opera based on the Shakespeare play. Damrau makes her role debut as Juliette in Bartlett Sher's new production, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. Elliot Madore sings Mercutio and Mikhail Petrenko sings Frère Laurent. Sher's staging is a La Scala production, initially presented by the Salzburg Festival, where it premiered in 2008.

5. RUSALKA (Dvořák) – New production

Saturday, February 25, 2017 - 12:55 p.m. ET / 11:55 a.m. CT/ 10:55 a.m. MT/ 9:55 a.m. PT

Encore presentation: Wednesday, March 1 – 6:30 p.m. local time

Kristine Opolais stars in a new production of the opera that first won her international acclaim, Dvořák's fairy-tale opera about the tragic water nymph Rusalka. Sir Mark Elder conducts Mary Zimmerman's new staging, which also stars Brandon Jovanovich as the human prince who captures Rusalka's heart; Katarina Dalayman as Rusalka's rival, the Foreign Princess; Eric Owens as the Water Sprite, Rusalka's father and Jamie Barton as the duplicitous witch Ježibaba.

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera, photo by Kristian Schuller

6. LA TRAVIATA (Verdi)

Saturday, March 11, 2017 - 12:55 p.m. ET / 11:55 a.m. CT/ 10:55 a.m. MT/ 9:55 a.m. PT

Encore presentation: Wednesday, March 15 – 6:30 p.m. local time

Sonya Yoncheva brings her acclaimed interpretation of the doomed courtesan Violetta Valéry to Live in HD audiences for the first time, opposite rising American tenor Michael Fabiano as her lover, Alfredo. Thomas Hampson sings one of his most acclaimed Met roles as Giorgio Germont, Alfredo's disapproving father, in a revival of Willy Decker's staging conducted by San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti.

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera, photo by Ken Howard

7. IDOMENEO (Mozart) – First time in HD

Saturday, March 25, 2017 - 12:55 p.m. ET / 11:55 a.m. CT/ 10:55 a.m. MT/ 9:55 a.m. PT

Encore presentation: Wednesday, March 29 – 6:30 p.m. local time

James Levine conducts a rare Met revival of Mozart's Idomeneo, set in the aftermath of the Trojan War. Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's classic production, which has its first Met revival in over a decade this season, stars Matthew Polenzani in the title role. The cast also includes Elza van den Heever as Elettra, Nadine Sierra as Ilia, Alice Coote as Idamante and Alan Opie as Arbace.

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera, photo by Marty Sohl

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera, photo by Ken Howard

8. EUGENE ONEGIN (Tchaikovsky)

Saturday, April 22, 2017 - 12:55 p.m. ET / 11:55 a.m. CT/ 10:55 a.m. MT/ 9:55 a.m. PT

Encore presentation: Wednesday, April 26 – 6:30 p.m. local time

Anna Netrebko reprises one of her most acclaimed roles as Tatiana, the naïve heroine of Tchaikovsky's opera, adapted from Pushkin's classic novel. Dmitri Hvorostovsky stars as the title character, who rejects Tatiana's love. Robin Ticciati, Music Director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera, conducts the revival of Deborah Warner's staging, which opened the Met's 2013-14 season. Alexey Dolgov sings the role of Onegin's friend-turned-rival, Lenski, with Elena Maximova as Tatiana's sister Olga and Štefan Kocán as Prince Gremin.

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera, photo by Kristian Schuller

9. DER ROSENKAVALIER (R. Strauss) – New production

Saturday, May 13, 2017 - 12:30 p.m. ET / 11:30 a.m. CT/ 10:30 a.m. MT/ 9:30 a.m. PT

Encore presentation: Wednesday, May 17 – 6:30 p.m. local time

The Met's first new production since 1969 of Strauss's rich romantic masterpiece is conducted by Sebastian Weigle and directed by Robert Carsen, whose most recent Met production was the hit 2013 staging of Falstaff. Renée Fleming sings one of her signature roles as the Marschallin, opposite El?na Garan?a in her first North American performances as Octavian, the impulsive young title character. The cast also includes Günther Groissböck as Baron Ochs, Erin Morley as Sophie, Marcus Brück in his Met debut as Faninal and Matthew Polenzani as the Italian Singer. Der Rosenkavalier is a co-production with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Teatro Regio di Torino.

10. TRISTAN UND ISOLDE (Wagner) – New production (already screened)

Saturday, October 8, 2016 - 12:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. CT/ 10:00 a.m. MT/ 9:00 a.m. PT

Encore presentation Wednesday, October 12 – 6:30 p.m. local time

The season began with a new production of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle in his first Live in HD performance. Nina Stemme stars as Isolde – a touchstone role she has sung with major opera companies around the world. Her Tristan is Australian heldentenor Stuart Skelton, who sang Siegmund in the Met's Ring cycle in 2013. The cast also includes Ekaterina Gubanova as Brangäne and Evgeny Nikitin as Kurwenal (both in Met role debuts), with René Pape reprising King Marke, a role he has sung to acclaim in three previous Met seasons. The staging, by Mariusz Treli?ski (who directed the 2015 Met double bill of Iolanta and Bluebeard's Castle), is a co-production with the Festival Hall Baden-Baden, Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera and China National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) Beijing.

©2016 Ruth J. Katz / All rights reserved.

Related Article:
The Metropolitan Opera: A Rare Roberto Devereux

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