Opera Scotland

Opera 'Live in HD' from the Met

Posted 4 Nov 2009

Last year for the first time Scots could watch Metropolitan Opera performances relayed live from New York in High Definition and 5.1 digital sound. This year they are being shown in only three venues in all Scotland.

These locations are the Pavilion (an independent, family-run, four screen cinema in the centre of Galashiels) and the two Scottish cinemas owned by City Screen, the Cameo in Edinburgh and the Belmont in Aberdeen. This year Cineworld did not contract to show the Met operas (although most performances last year were sell outs for them). Thus those in Glasgow and Dundee who saw them last year will miss out.

The Met operas in the 2009-10 season contain the usual frequently performed hits with a couple less often seen. They are Tosca, Aida (October past),Turandot, Les Contes d’Hoffman, Der Rosenkavalier, Carmen, Simon Boccanegra, Hamlet (Thomas) and Armida (Rossini).

What is the experience like? Features of the performances are the ‘red carpet’ interviews beforehand, and the insistence of the Met that screenings are live and not deferred relays. The Observer critic Peter Conrad said
“transmitted live in crystalline, high definition video with all enveloping surround sound…Watching it in the cinema was like having not just the best seat at the Met but all the best seats simultaneously.”

To those who believe that Scotland is undersupplied with opera, perhaps the prices charged are strong evidence. Don’t be misled by the price structures shown on some of the cinema websites showing their standard prices around £5.00 per film. Opera doesn’t come cheap even in a cinema. For the Met operas, the Pavilion charges £24.50 (concessions £19.50); the Cameo and Belmont are charging £25 (concessions £21.50). Try one of the performances out – the performances are now listed in our events diary.

Just maybe the Met knows that quality opera is always valued highly. Perhaps this is something the Scottish government should learn and improve the funding on offer to our marvellous art form.


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