Before the Camana Bay Cinema closed temporarily – another victim of the coronavirus – one of my favourite items that it offered on the schedule was its monthly ‘Culture at the Cinema’.
Offering ticketholders a rare opportunity to watch quality, first-run productions as though from the best seat in the house of some of London’s most legendary theatres, ‘Culture’ brought the wonders of ‘War Horse’, ‘The Audience’, and the hilarious ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ to the big screen, along with countless Shakespeare productions and other new shows. There was even the odd trip or two to Russia to watch arguably the world’s greatest ballet company – the Bolshoi – perform classics like ‘Giselle’ and ‘The Nutcracker’.
As each screening presented the recording of a live production, complete with audience, you really felt like you were sitting there – transported to a red velvet seat, maybe row C in the orchestra, watching the story unfold on stage.
The Metropolitan Opera in New York has, like Broadway, had to go dark while the country works to contain the virus. But as they say, the show must go on!
Understanding that people around the world would welcome a diversion right now, the Met has decided to stream some of its most popular operas from performances gone by, for free. Aptly named ‘Nightly Met Opera Streams’, it will show a new opera every evening through 22 March. The screening starts at 7:30pm and will be available to stream for 20 hours.
“We’d like to provide some grand opera solace to opera lovers in these extraordinarily difficult times,” said Met general manager Peter Gelb in a press release. “Every night, we’ll be offering a different complete operatic gem from our collection of HD presentations from the past 14 years.”
The first one was Bizet’s ‘Carmen’, which streamed on Monday night. Conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and starring Elīna Garanča and Roberto Alagna, it was originally transmitted live on 16 Jan. 2010. I sat at my computer and at 7:30pm, I went to the Met Opera website, as instructed, to see it. After watching the circle of death on my computer screen for about 15 seconds, it told me that something, somewhere, had timed out.
Later that night, I tried again. This time it gave me access, and as I brought up the page, it clarified what had gone wrong. It also suggested alternative access methods.
From the site: “Due to unprecedented demand and web traffic, we recommend you access the stream through the Met Opera on Demand apps for Apple, Amazon, and Roku devices and Samsung Smart TV.”
It seems that many people are (understandably) hankering for some entertainment in our present circumstances.
I watched enough of ‘Carmen’ to see that this is something I could really get into, particularly as the 20-hour window takes us to 3:30pm the next day. It provides opportunity for all ages to get a taste of opera for free, especially when they are stuck at home.
Here is the remaining schedule:
Tuesday, 17 March
— Puccini’s ‘La Bohème’
(Conducted by Nicola Luisotti, starring Angela Gheorghiu and Ramón Vargas. Transmitted live on 5 April 2008.)
Wednesday, 18 March
— Verdi’s ‘Il Trovatore’
(Conducted by Marco Armiliato, starring Anna Netrebko, Dolora Zajick, Yonghoon Lee, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Transmitted live on
3 Oct. 2015.)
Thursday, 19 March
— Verdi’s ‘La Traviata’
(Conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, starring Diana Damrau, Juan Diego Flórez, and Quinn Kelsey. Transmitted live on
15 Dec. 2018.)
Friday, 20 March
— Donizetti’s ‘La Fille du Régiment’
(Conducted by Marco Armiliato, starring Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez. Transmitted live on 26 April 2008.)
Saturday, 21 March
— Donizetti’s ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’
(Conducted by Marco Armiliato, starring Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczała, and Mariusz Kwiecien. Transmitted live on 7 Feb. 2009.)
Sunday, 22 March
– Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’
(Conducted by Valery Gergiev, starring Renée Fleming, Ramón Vargas, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Transmitted live on 24 Feb. 2007.)
Tip: These operas are in foreign languages. If you don’t speak them and you want to follow along with what you are seeing, try finding a site that has the libretti translated into English. One example is opera.stanford.edu/index.html#libretti.