Posts Met HD broadcasts at movie theaters actually quite good

Met HD broadcasts at movie theaters actually quite good

Saturday morning we went to the local movie theater to watch a Metropolitan Opera's high-definition live broadcast of Puccini's Manon Lescaut.

I was curious about how much I would enjoy watching an opera in a movie theater, but it turned out to be quite good in several respects:
  • I had heard that these broadcasts had been quite successful last year, but somehow I could not really believe it. We joked before entering the theater that maybe we would be the only two people there. But in fact the place was almost packed (mostly with gray or white heads), which was heart-warming.
  • Half of each of the two intermissions was spent taking the viewer behind the scene. Renée Fleming interviewed the two protagonists (Karita Mattila and Marcello Giordani), conductor James Levine, the stage manager, and the couple in charge of animals on stage (horses and dog). You also got to see the cast behind the curtain, and all the work needed to change the sets. This is material which you simply don't get at the opera.
  • You get to see a lot of the action much better than if you are sitting hundreds of feet away from a stage. You also get to see what was happening in the orchestra pit during orchestral moments.
  • It costs only $22, it's close from home, there is plenty of parking and and you don't have to dress up.
  • Picture and sound quality are good, although sitting quite in front of the theater, you can see the pixels. I wonder what's the resolution? 720?1080?
Other than that the performance was quite good. I had never seen Puccini's Manon Lescaut, performed less often than Massenet's version of l'Abbé Prévost's story. This is not an opera as perfect dramatically as La Bohème, but you can understand why this was Puccini's first real success on stage.

The sets were gorgeous. Karita Mattila, at 47 (as she tells herself during her interview), is old for the role of the youthful Manon, and this appears too well during the close-ups, but she sang and acted wonderfully. Unusually maybe for a modern tenor, Marcello Giordani has a warm and pleasing voice and did quite well in the several quite demanding arias. Conducting was as you could expect from Levine.

I think we will be tempted by the experience again. Next up are Britten's Peter Grimes, Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, Puccini's La Bohème, and Donzetti's La Fille du Régiment.