Popcorn and Wagner
May 2, 2012 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Are there any MeFites who go to The Met: Live in HD performances at their local movieplexes? In particular, did anyone catch the Ring Cycle in 2010 (in person or via Live in HD)? It's playing again over the next few weeks, and I'm trying to decide whether to commit the time and money for more than the new documentary about the production. I'd love to hear your opinions about the Met performances in particular, and about "live performance at the cinema" in general.
posted by catlet to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The NY Times had an article on this last weekend. It contains quite a few opinions from attendees.
posted by mmascolino at 11:30 AM on May 2, 2012

Best answer: I have not seen the Ring Cycle in particular, but only for lack of time, not interest. I have done plenty of Met HD broadcasts in the cinema, and found each one of them a delight.

First, you get to see much, much more than you do in person*, or on a PBS broadcast or such. The scale is monumental, so even the background stuff really pops out. The sound is also very, very good.

Second, there's a lot of bonus material. There are backstage interviews with the performers freshly off the stage, there's a bunch of stagehands all seemingly named Tony who are busy assembling and dessembling the sets, tours of the costuming areas... It goes on and on, and it's all fascinating.

The combination of the sheer overwhelmingness (?) of seeing it on the big screen in HD picture and sound, with the add-ons really adds to your appreciation of opera itself, just being able to see how much goes into it, and knowing that there's so much more that you cannot see. It changes your perception of any other opera from then on out.

Again, I haven't seen this production in particular, but really? They're all incredible. I would have no hesitation seeing anything at all. (And with Robert LePage at the helm, it can only be brilliant.)

Go. Go go go. It's not cheap, but you really do get bang for your buck.

*Not that it's better than being there in person as an experience, but in terms of actually seeing and hearing the show? Wow.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:34 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Mr. and I have been to Gotterdammerung and we're going to Rheingold next week (can't see them all because we have French class that night). If we didn't have class, we'd see them all and the documentary. I'm really hoping they decide to release a DVD set of the whole shebang. What Capt. Renault said is true.

FYI, I've also seen the Ring Cycle 3 times at Seattle Opera, and have been to many other Met HD simulcasts.
posted by matildaben at 11:59 AM on May 2, 2012

I've been to several of the simulcasts and I love them. I can't compare them to seeing the Met live, but I've been to plenty of opera (was a season ticket holder here in Houston, until they decided to overdose me on Anthony Dead Griffey and operas I'd already seen and disliked; I'll go back eventually).

The comfy chairs, the snacks, and the added features (behind the scenes interviews and narrated program notes) are all a huge plus in my opinion.

I've not seen them to Wagner's Ring Cycle - in fact, aside from hearing a recording of Anna Russell's analysis of the Ring Cycle, I'm completely unfamiliar with the whole thing. It is on my list, but I'd like to see it in person and in its entirety before I see bits and pieces of it or see it broadcast. (I decided years ago that seeing a live production of the Ring Cycle was on my bucket list. And there it sits. Waiting for someone to do it at a time when I can afford to take a week off to take an opera vacation!)
posted by jph at 12:01 PM on May 2, 2012

I saw 3 of the 4 (missed Das Rheingold, so very glad they're being encored). Everything Capt. Renault says above applied to the Ring as well (I personally could do without a lot of the bonus material, but I admit that most of the audience seems to like it). I really really enjoyed myself and mean to catch all 4 repeats. I especially liked Jay Hunter Morris as Siegfried. LePage's set has come in for quite a bit of criticism, but I didn't have problems with it, except for the occasional creaking noises (and the fact that Die Walkure started over an hour late because it went on the fritz, but that won't matter for the encore). Mail me if you have more specific questions.
posted by JanetLand at 12:05 PM on May 2, 2012

Best answer: Oh, and Capt. Renault is also right that it's not as good as being there live, but heck, I live in the sticks, so it's pretty darn fabulous.
posted by JanetLand at 12:06 PM on May 2, 2012

Best answer: Jay Hunter Morris is awesome.... He was a surprise last-minute replacement for the role of Siegfried, and he really stole the show. Usually I hate the character of Siegfried, he's such a bro, but JHM's acting really made me appreciate him for the first time. Plus he's just so charming in interviews, with his Southern drawl and his many kind remarks about his colleagues.
posted by matildaben at 12:22 PM on May 2, 2012

I saw Das Rheingold last year at a local movie theater and I enjoyed it very much. This was not the "live" performance simulcast but a repeat. The tickets cost $18, and the sound and music were fantastic. The close-ups took some getting used to, I guess, but the experience was great.
posted by Rain Man at 8:08 PM on May 2, 2012

Response by poster: Late follow-up: I saw the documentary, which I enjoyed. I wasn't able to make it to any of the cycle itself, but what I saw made me excited about seeing some of the summer encores and the 2012/13 season.

I also saw Fathom's presentation of the National Theatre production of Frankenstein at another theatre, which was astoundingly good. However, that theatre had technical problems (Dish menu on the screen and clicking through it, then replaying the entire intro package from "Now That's Broadway" forward). Had it been a live transmission, we'd have missed the first two scenes. I'll be going back to the theatre where I saw Wagner's Dream for future shows.

But, wow. I am so glad to live in an age where I can go to my local movieplex and see performances that, even a decade ago, I could only have known about through reviews or committing to significant travel.
posted by catlet at 4:44 AM on June 14, 2012

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