Financial markets have never been shakier, the Middle East is riven by so many crises and conflicts that Iran has been pushed off the front page, and the European Union could be headed for the definitive crisis of its history, but art goes on — and in particular in New York, the Metropolitan Opera opens a new season later this week.The ne0-Assyrian architecture of Lincoln Center is not my favorite, and the hall itself is less storied and less, well, operatic than venues like La Scala in Milan or the Wiener (Vienna) Staatsoper, but when the chandeliers dim and rise up to the ceiling and the orchestra begins to play, you are in the presence of one of the great cultural achievements of our time: a body of musicians, directors and singers who produce gorgeous spectacles night after night for roughly eight months in the year.There is nothing like being there in person, and a night or two at the opera should be part of every trip to New York, but for those whose schedules, responsibilities and budgets don’t allow, the live HD theater broadcasts of Saturday matinees around the country are the next best thing. (Get the schedule, find out what theaters participate near you and buy tickets here.)The HD schedule this year is extremely good. It ranges from new opera (Satyagraha and The Enchanted Island) to grand old warhorses of the repertoire like Traviata and Don Giovanni. Two of Wagner’s Ring operas will be shown, and there is some Handel and Mozart as well. Regular attendance at this year’s HD Live matinees is a not-bad introduction to the genre, and with supertitles in English you can actually follow the drama. (At the actual Met the dialog appears on a little panel on the back of the chair in front of you — very low key and very effective.)Great performances of great operas require the cooperation of hundreds of talented people, and opera, in which a myriad of things can go badly wrong, is an unforgiving genre. The Met doesn’t always get everything right, but on the not-infrequent occasions when it all comes together, the audience witnesses and shares in a genuinely sublime triumph of the human spirit.There are very few better ways to spend some time, and very few artistic endeavors in today’s world more deserving of support.
Opera Time in New York