Sunday, December 02, 2007

AIDA, HD video at Smyphony Space

From listening to the Texaco Metropolitan Opera broadcasts, lo! half a century ago, on the radio when I was a teenager, technology is reaching a new audience. I thought it was only Peter Gelb, the Met's relatively new General Manager, who was broadcasting operas by HD video to movie theatres -- he started it a year ago. Those were/are broadcast simultaneously to a select handful of theatres, last year only in the US, this year elsewhere as well. And those broadcasts are now going to be released on DVD and also made available to a broader list of theatres. I'm assuming it was Gelb's idea but it obviously rang a bell. I saw none of those, most weren't closer than New Rochelle.
This afternoon I went to a HD, surround sound showing at Symphony Space -- just three blocks away -- of AIDA from La Scala -- from last season, not a simulcast. The Zeffarelli production. Of course Aida is the grandest of grand opera and the camera was much in love with details of the set which were spectacular. The first half was visually stunning, the sound was wonderful throughout. The video in the second half ran into many problems with dim lighting of nighttime scenes, sometimes catching the beams of spotlights very distractingly. They have problems to solve with the video. I was charmed that Zeffarelli was called up during the final curtain calls and got great applause.
The Symphony Space audience tends to be solidly West Sider sorts, people over 40, obviously professional. However, I understand that the many HD showings in movie theatres are bringing in audiences who are not regular opera fans. With sound so gorgeous, and decent acting by attractive singers, it surely is enlarging the audience for an art form that was beginning to flounder. And there is a whole generation of quite beautiful young divas who can, or try, to act. It was certainly a very lovely way to spend three hours of a gray, snowy, first serious Sunday of winter afternoon.

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