In a late September review of the Met’s performance of Verdi’s Otello, Nicholas M. Gallagher wrote in these pages, “In the end, the beauty of Verdi’s music and the pathos of Shakespeare’s plot overwhelms everything. The audience burst to their feat at the end of the performance in a long, spontaneous, standing ovation… I, too, joined them.” Now, you don’t have to take his word for it. As the AP reports, the Met will be broadcasting Otello to movie theaters around the world this weekend:
The Met’s HD broadcast will be shown live in movie theaters around the world starting at 1 p.m. EDT on Saturday. A list of theaters can be found at the Met’s website: http://www.metopera.org. In the U.S., it will be repeated on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 6:30 p.m. local time.
Purists will tell you that opera in HD will never be the same as it is live. Well, sure—just as going to a football game in the stadium has a totally different feel to it than watching it on ESPN. But as millions of viewers around the country will tell you, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tune in on game day.
As Walter Russell Mead wrote after seeing Otello (yes, it was so good, we ran two articles about it), technology is changing the way we view opera in the 21st century:
The widespread adoption of supertitles (or, in the Met’s case, those wonderfully inconspicuous back of the seat panels that discreetly flash the libretto in English translation), has changed the relationship of the audience to the drama. More than ever before in its history, opera today is a dramatic performance; audiences chortle, weep, and gasp in response to events on the stage, and singers are under more pressure than ever before to act convincingly. At the same time, the dramatic improvements in sound and video recording quality mean that high-definition broadcast and recorded versions of great opera performances can be enjoyed at a reasonable price by people all over the country. Beyond that, the increasing affluence of American society means that more people have the leisure to cultivate pursuits like the opera—and the income to support the art of their choice.
Technology means that we have more distractions than ever, and more and more people are seeking out meaningful pursuits, such as hours-long immersion in great operas, that allows them to get away from mere distraction. Fortuitously, that same technology means you no longer have to live in a major city to be able to enjoy such opportunities. Whether you live in the exurbs of Atlanta or across the Atlantic ocean, anywhere there’s a movie theater, one of the world’s best opera houses is now just around the corner.
So, if you have a few free hours for culture this Saturday, read Gallagher’s review and then go see Otello. You won’t be sorry.