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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Superconductor Preview: Met Outdoor HD Festival

The Met does its annual big show in Lincoln Center Plaza.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The annual MET Live in HD festival attracts 3000 opera lovers each night to Lincoln Center Plaza.
Photo © 2015 The Metropolitan Opera.
The Metropolitan Opera likes to do things big. And nothing is bigger than their annual ten-day series of free opera screenings, shown on an enormous digital projection screen mounted on the balcony of the Grand Tier of the Metropolitan Opera House. There are 3,100 seats for each screening and no tickets are required. This year's series starts Friday night and continues through Labor Day. Superconductor has a preview.

Aug. 28: West Side Story
Co-presented with the Film Society of Lincoln Center, this classic tale of gang warfare between the Jets and Sharks is an update of Romeo and Juliet. With music by Leonard Bernstein and libretto by Stephen Sondheim, this is one of the greatest movie musicals of all time.

Aug. 29: Carmen 
Elīna Garanča and Roberto Alagna are the tempestuous lovers in this Bizet drama, one of the most famous operatic scores ever written. This is a repeat of the live broadcast from 2010 when this now-classic Richard Eyre production was still new.

Aug. 30: Macbeth
What's better than Shakespeare? How about Verdi reinterpreting Shakespeare! Anna Netrebko tears up the screen as Lady Macbeth in the one opera that theater people are reluctant to name out loud. Željko Lučić is the troubled king in this tale of sorcery, regicide and blood. Filmed in October, 2014.

Aug: 31: Les Contes d'Hoffmann 
Vittorio Grigolo stars in Offenbach's final opera, the tale of a doomed poet whose romantic misadventures include a dalliance with a doll, an affair with a would-be sickly opera singer and a visit to the fleshpots of Venice in this sprawling, but tuneful French opera. This is Bart Sher's production and was filmed earlier this year.

Sept. 1: Iolanta/Bluebeard's Castle 
Anna Netrebko returns in the first ever Met production of Tchaikovsky's Iolanta, the fairy tale of a blind woman who finds true love. Here it is paired with Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle, the story of a marriage going quickly off the rails due to the husband's bloody past and palace full of terrible secrets. Filmed in February, 2015.

Sept. 2: Cosí fan tutte 
This Mozart-Da Ponte comedy was consider shocking back in the swinging 1700s, mostly because the story is about two suitors who swap girlfriends in order to win a bar bet. Mozart's comedy explores the emotional fallout to some of his finest music. A collection of fine young singers including Susannah Philips, Danielle De Niese and Isabel Leonard do the twister under the baton of James Levine.

Sept. 3: Il Trittico 
A hat trick of one-act Puccini operas. Il Tabarro ("The Cloak") is the blood-soaked opener. Suor Angelica is the story of a nun and her terrible secret. Finally, the comedy Gianni Schicchi is the palate-cleanser, a rumbustuos story of a will, a con man and his daughter, that contains "O mio babbino caro," the biggest hit tune Puccini ever wrote. Filmed in 2007, this production is worthy of revival.

Sept. 4: Roméo et Juliette 
It's all about Anna. Especially when La Netrebko is singing Juliette in Gounod's Shakespeare adaptation opposite Roberto Alagna. This handsome and slightly surreal production is due for eventual replacement but its visuals remain innovative. Filmed back in 2007.

Sept. 5: La Traviata 
The Met's current Willy Decker staging of La Traviata is either a work of theatrical genius or abomination, and that division is largely along young-old lines in the audience. Natalie Dessay slips on the little red dress for this stark production, which uses a gigantic clock to continually remind the audience that Violetta has no time left.

Sept. 6: Don Giovanni 
What do you do with a production of Don Giovanni that nobody likes? If you're the Met you replace it with this one by British dramaturge Michael Grandage. Of course nobody liked this staging either. Close your eyes and enjoy this performance, which features Mariusz Kwiecien and Luca Pisaroni as the conniving Don and his loyal and hapless servant Leporello. Fabio Luisi conductos.

Sept. 7: Aida
The Met ends its 2015 Live in HD Festival with yet another film of Verdi's Aida. Roberto Alagna leads the Egyptian army against the Ethiopians, and Liudmyla Monastyrska sings the title role. With Olga Borodina as Amneris, this version of the long-running production was shot in 2012.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats