By Peter Frenzel
There are more opera nuts out there than you may think. So many that the Metropolitan Opera has for some years built a program of transmitting live selected Saturday afternoon performances in high definition television (HD) to movie theaters around the world. With little fanfare, Middletown’s R/C Metro Movies Theater (formally Destinta) is subscribing to the transmissions this year.
Coming up this Saturday (December 8, 12:55 p.m.) is the Met’s new production of Verdi’s Masked Ball. Verdi’s overarching lyric poignancy and rousing choruses provide conspiracy plots, a sorceress, and a tragic love story culminating in an assassination.
The HD transmissions give you not only opera, but intriguing intermission backstage interviews with the stars, in the case of Masked Ball, with Marcelo Álvarez, Sondra Radvanovsky, and the charismatic Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky. You can also watch full scene changes with sets hoisted up to the fly spaces, flats moved on and off the stage, and scrims dropping into position. All this for twenty bucks!
The following week (December 15, 12:55 p.m.) it’s Verdi’s Aida, surely the grandest of all grand operas, with its triumphant march (Nubian slaves and Ethiopian P.O.W.s), Egyptian hegemony and—Who would believe?—lovers dying from asphyxiation by swamp gas.
On Saturday, January 5 (12 noon) the Met mounts one of its most critically acclaimed productions, Hector Berlioz’ The Trojans. No, it doesn’t feature the USC starting offense, but tells the story of what happened to the Trojans after defeat to the Greeks and that nasty horse. At five hours running time, you get your money’s worth.
The HD performances, all on Saturdays, continue with:
January 19 (12:55 p.m.): Donizetti, Maria Stuarda (she looses her head)
February 16 (12:55 p.m.): Verdi, Rigoletto (the lady in the sack)
March 2 (12 noon) Wagner, Parsifal (100 Dresden Amens)
March 16 (12 noon), Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini (lovers last seen in hell)
April 27 (12 noon) Handel, Julius Caesar (Rome triumphant)
The R/C Metro Movies are in Metro Square, just off of Main Street between Court and William Streets. There is plenty of parking.