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Petunia

Met Opera at the Cinema

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“Turandot”, Saturday 30th January

 

After having to attend a funeral service for an acquaintance of Mr P we decided to distract ourselves with a visit to a cinema live broadcast of “Turandot”.

 

As we had just seen the Rhapsody/2P relay with an audience of about 10, we were surprised to find a packed cinema.

 

Turandot is a production by Franco Zeffirelli from 1987 and I’ve never seen a stage so overdecorated and cramped. I can’t imagine how, if sitting high up in the auditorium, one could manage to find the leading characters if they weren’t placed front and middle (as they were most of the time).

 

Such an overwhelming amount of extras, dancers and props! But I must admit, the camera work was very good in concentrating on the important actions, much better than with the RB broadcast.

 

The conductor was Paolo Carignani who too often preferred to push the sound level as far as possible but Nina Stemme as Turandot was of Wagnerian stance and strength and held up as the true dramatic heroine that she is even in a lavish but quite unflattering costume.

 

Her Calaf was not as impressive (Marco Berti), he acted as if he was under-rehearsed and too often took refuge to the standard tenor moves like the single-handed throw, the double heart grasp, the two-arms-out… quite annoying.

 

A revelation was Anita Hartig as Liu, who was able to send long, colourful, lyrical ribbons of music into the air, she really sang from her heart, I felt she was the only one who truly lived the role. She made the incredible beauty and complexity of Puccini’s music audible, and visible, too.

Also very interesting was Alexander Tsymbalyuk as Timur, a beautiful voice and quite a good actor, as far as could be seen under the exaggerated make up.

I find close-ups at the opera as difficult as at the ballet, particularly with an ugly pseudo chinese make-up (the three “ministers” were an especially bad example).

 

The presenter was Renee Fleming, and she did her job with a professional friendliness (albeit with some gushing) and she obviously had much fun. Very interesting were the intervals – there were cameras onstage and we could see the changing of the scenery, what an enormous amount of work!

 

If they were not so expensive, I’d rather like to see more of the Met broadcast events.

Does anybody else go or do you stick to the ROH?

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Oh yes Petunia, for the last year or so I have found myself going to nearly all of the Met broadcasts (except when I really can't bear the work). The Americans, as is their way, really put on a show so the whole experience - interviews, backstage peeks and all - makes for a substantial evening. And a few times - Cosi, Donna Del Lago, Trovatore, to name just three - I thought the Met did as good as I have ever seen in a lifetime of opera-going (this Turandot not at that standard but a nice night out nonetheless).

 

So, unlike a well-known music blogger, I think Peter Gelb has done some good in the world!

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Funny that so many people -including myself- go to see the Met at the cinema... we have three decent opera houses in Berlin, and the cinema tickets cost 29€ - you can buy quite a good seat for that.

But I will surely do it again, if there's something interesting coming up.

 

Who is the well-known music blogger, may I ask?

Edited by Petunia

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Digressing a bit, but RO Traviata live on Thursday: are the singers worth going to hear?

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A friend of mine went on Saturday and really liked it, but I don't know if it's the same cast.

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Sorry for hijacking the thread: I had a look at a few Picturehouse schedules (I've currently got a membership, so it's cheaper than anywhere else) and noticed that they do repeat performances of the Met broadcasts, but not of the RO ones, and this despite the fact that La Traviata is sold out in all of them.  Is that normal?

 

And :facepalm: of the day - one Picturehouse has a Met repeat which totally overlaps with the Les Liaisons Dangereuses repeat from last week.  Silly people - there must be quite a lot of people who'd have been interested to see both, surely?

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I've been thinking about the Met broadcasts for some time - most recently the forthcoming April showing of Roberto Devereux - but I have to say that the I've been put off by the £30 tickets at my local cinema. It seems somehow perverse to pay the equivalent or more than I would pay for a live performance and I have stoically resisted so far. Any thoughts?

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I've been thinking about the Met broadcasts for some time - most recently the forthcoming April showing of Roberto Devereux - but I have to say that the I've been put off by the £30 tickets at my local cinema. It seems somehow perverse to pay the equivalent or more than I would pay for a live performance and I have stoically resisted so far. Any thoughts?

I know how you feel. But when I did the calculation properly (which obviously depends on just how local your cinema is) factoring in all the costs of going to the notional live performance (which of course is not available to me as I don't live in New York) it's cheaper to go to the cinema. And I like all the bonus parts of the transmission, the far more comfortable seats etc etc.

 

So, yes, I will be at Roberto D from the Met but also at various shows at ROH and (depending on reviews) ENO etc.

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I went to both ROH Traviata at Everyman Esher and Jonas Kaufmann  Puccini Evening at Odeon Epsom recently. The Violetta was just wonderful Venera Gimadieva, wasn't sure about the Alfredo, Saimir Pirgu. Germont pere was great, Luca Salsi. Seats at Everyman cost £17.80 and we sat in a two seater sofa with plenty of leg room. Interestingly seats for any of the Met lie relays are £30 each. Even more interesting is that they don't appear on the Odeon listings of live events. The visit to the Kaufmann concert was lovely. The Orchestra of La Scala were absolutely great and Kaufmann super as usual. I would like to go to at least one of the Met live perf in cinema but not sure about the £30 tickets, also I have some comments to make for the Manager at the Everyman Esher about the experience. 

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I too really liked the Violetta, but would be interested to hear about Alfredo from anyone who saw it live.

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I would love to go to the Met relays but at £30 per ticket I will have to content myself with Radio 3 and your posts! Please keep them coming.

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My thoughts exactly, Sim.  Although there *are* various cinema membership schemes which would reduce the price somewhat - Picturehouse members get a £5 discount (or I suppose it may be more - I'm going by the ROH broadcast prices), and I think Barbican Members get a discount at the cinema, at least.

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Can anyone point me to a Cinema Finder for the current season which actually *works*, please?  I'm trying to locate London showings for Eugene Onegin in a couple of weeks, but the Met's one stubbornly refuses to move from New York :(

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22 minutes ago, alison said:

Can anyone point me to a Cinema Finder for the current season which actually *works*, please?  I'm trying to locate London showings for Eugene Onegin in a couple of weeks, but the Met's one stubbornly refuses to move from New York :(

 

If you're in the Met's one, click on Manhattan, delete that and replace with "London".  Works for me on IE.

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Not working for me on Firefox, certainly.

 

Okay, it's suddenly working again.  But it was definitely on strike when I posted!

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Did you manage to get to Onegin then? pretty sensational I thought, just back!

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Nope.  Had to listen to what I could on the radio.  Thank heavens for Radio 3.

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Yes indeed, thank heaven for Radio 3.

I hope you enjoyed some of the wonderful singing Alison.

There was also a lot of dance- mostly -apart from a rather over-the-top peasant number in Act 1- of course ballroom dancing, choreographed by Kim Brandstrup. It all looked pretty, but, the stage was very overcrowded with huge numbers of people and an awful lot of giganic sets, which took away somewhat from the effect for me.

 

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Just to say, Hugh Canning of the Sunday Times saw Eugene Onegin live and in his column today encourages people to try and get to the cinema to see this. I saw it yesterday and it has an exceptional number of exceptional (and exceptionally idiomatic) voices, although I heard a few surprising problems with the Met orchestra and chorus.

 

Canning points out that the encore screenings are on Tuesday so there is time to go!

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I notice some cinemas (Picturehouses, at least) are doing repeat showings of Met broadcasts from recent years over the summer.

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