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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Snap Out of It! The Met Live in HD Festival

Opera company teases season with eleven days of outside broadcasts.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Opera lovers: Cher (left) and Nicolas Cage (right) in a production still from Moonstruck.
Image © 1987 MGM.
The Metropolitan Opera has settled its labor crisis, just in time for the company's annual 11-night celebration of general manager Peter Gelb's Live in HD series. This has been one of the better initiatives of the Gelb administration, an annual goodwill gesture inviting opera lovers to Lincoln Center Plaza to watch past broadcasts on a giant screen mounted on the Grand Tier balcony.

This year's festival opens tonight, Aug. 22 with an 8pm screening of Moonstruck, the Academy Award-winning romantic comedy starring Cher and Nicolas Cage as two Italian-American New Yorkers whose romance ignites at a Met performance of La bohéme. Fittingly enough, that opera starts the lineup of ten operas, which climaxes with not one, not two, but three performances featuring star soprano Anna Netrebko. And each title links to past Superconductor reviews of the operas, because this blog is thorough like that.

La bohéme (Aug. 23 8pm)
"Franco Zeffirelli's production of Puccini's opera remains unassailable: an ode to the excesses of that Italian director and the enormous resources mustered by this formidable organization."

Prince Igor (Aug. 24 7:15pm)
"Igor (Ildar Abdrazakov) now wanders through a vast field of poppies, encountering ghostly versions of the opera's other characters who may or may not be dramatically present. This choice seemed to confuse a lot of the actors, including Mr.  Abdrazakov...."

The Nose (Aug. 25 8pm)
"A sparkling, energetic realization of the Gogol short story chronicling the woes of a minor Russian bureaucrat who wakes up one morning having suffered a mysterious episode of rhinoplasty."

Simon Boccanegra (Aug. 26 8pm)
"Mr. Domingo succeeded on all counts, singing as low as he dared and relying on his fine acting skills to carry him through this opera's treacherous waters."

Falstaff (Aug. 27 8pm)
"Ambrogio Maestri reimagined the fat knight as a proud, bull-like figure, rampaging through post-war British society in a red Moss Bros. tailcoat with a cheerful disregard for its manners and mores."

Rusalka (Aug. 28 7:45pm)
"The opening scene between the Water Goblin and three nubile young maidens made one long for Das Rheingold. "

L'Elisir d'Amore (Aug. 29 8pm)
"For no apparent reason, director Bartlett Sher refashions this opera buffa as a Verdi-esque clash between oppressive soldiers and would-be guerrilla fighters during the Risorgimento. As Dr. Dulcamara (Erwin Schrott) sells his brand of snake oil to the local peasants, his two assistants distribute single-action rifles from the back of his pushcart. "

Don Pasquale (Aug. 30 8pm)
"When she turned on Pasquale, Ms. Netrebko acted out every opera house manager's worst backstage nightmare to great comic effect. The Met has seen its share of diva drama over its long history, and many in the house last night enjoyed the inside joke."

Werther (Aug. 31 8pm)
"Mr. Kaufmann used his full register in this evening, slicing through the thick, dark orchestration with sweet, pliant tone and projecting gorgeous ribbons of sound into the yawning gulf of the Met's huge auditorium."

Eugene Onegin (Sept. 1 7:45pm)
"Interestingly, their confrontation in this production ended in a passionate, lengthy kiss. Is director Fiona Shaw hinting that the last bars of Onegin may not be the end of the affair?"

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