MET HD: Reviewing the Experience

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maestrob
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MET HD: Reviewing the Experience

Post by maestrob » Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:31 am

WHEN you walk to your seat in a movie theater for one of the “Live in HD” broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera, your experience begins with the sound: the instantly recognizable, immediately comforting hum of instruments tuning and the audience stirring, piped in live from the Met itself.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/arts/ ... wanted=all

John F
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Re: MET HD: Reviewing the Experience

Post by John F » Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:50 am

Interesting piece. Have you been to any of the HD showings? I haven't.
John Francis

stickles
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Re: MET HD: Reviewing the Experience

Post by stickles » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:48 am

I have been to 2 screenings: Nixon in China and Anna Bolena. The theater I went to just opened a couple of years ago, and with very comfortable seats and up to date equipment. Unfortunately I still have reservations about my experience on both occasions.
Nixon in China was going along fine until the third act came along when Mao's personal secretary came on stage and started groping him in the groin. The video director decided to zoom in to where the action was, and then followed up with extreme close ups of the Mao's facial expressions. Now in a theater setting, I would not have minded the action on stage, but when the video director decides to shove this down everyone's throat on a big screen in a movie theater, I take exception to that. This is clearly the case when a stage director's intention is being twisted or undermined by the decision of video director of the broadcast.
The broadcast of Anna Bolena suffered from terrible sound balance. The theater's sound system is clearly optimized for movie soundtracks, with an emphasis in the treble, and way too loud for my taste. The result was an unbearable shrill and ringing in my ears when certain types of voices came in. I had to put on my foam tipped earphones just to survive. After it was over, my neighbor looked at me with a puzzled look, and asked me what I was listening to on my ipod during the mad scene!
I see its potential and its entertainment value, but I don't know if I will go back to it anytime soon.

lennygoran
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Re: MET HD: Reviewing the Experience

Post by lennygoran » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:22 am

stickles wrote:I have been to 2 screenings: Nixon in China and Anna Bolena. ...Nixon in China was going along fine until the third act came along when Mao's personal secretary came on stage and started groping him in the groin. The video director decided to zoom in to where the action was, and then followed up with extreme close ups of the Mao's facial expressions. Now in a theater setting, I would not have minded the action on stage,...The broadcast of Anna Bolena suffered from terrible sound balance.
No reservations for me about HD--we've been to about 10 or more--I saw Nixon at the Met and bought very good orchestra seating--we saw the groping--it's not HD's fault but the terrible production--blame should go to the director imo--Peter Sellars! As for the Bolena our theater had good sound and we saw it live without Netrebko and HD with her--both enjoyable but HD won on this occasion . Regards, Len

Len_Z
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Re: MET HD: Reviewing the Experience

Post by Len_Z » Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:05 am

John F wrote:Interesting piece. Have you been to any of the HD showings? I haven't.
Neither have I. And I have yet to watch one on DVD at home, too. Even though I must admit that I've purchased them all, I am still, technically speaking, Met-HD-virgin :)

Probably the first one I'll actually watch will be Il Trovatore. I've seen it live, but it still has two major things going for it: David McV's production and Sondra R/Dolora Z performances

maestrob
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Re: MET HD: Reviewing the Experience

Post by maestrob » Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:36 am

John F wrote:Interesting piece. Have you been to any of the HD showings? I haven't.
No, JohnF, I'm unable to attend the HD showings, as they are not at a convenient time. However, I'm an enthusiastic consumer of the PBS broadcasts. I'd say the article was spot-on about the intimacy of the drama staged for the cameras, and the sound, while limited, is certainly equal to the videotapes I've acquired over the years, if not better.

I do find it difficult to analyze the voices compared to how they might sound live in-house: smaller voices tend to come across with much more beauty and presence than they would live, while larger voices tend to sound less appealing on mike. There is nothing that can replace the natural bloom of the hall, IMHO.

Since TV is the only way I can "attend" the MET these days, I'm grateful in any case.

maestrob
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Re: MET HD: Reviewing the Experience

Post by maestrob » Sun May 06, 2012 11:06 am

The HD series is part of a culture in which audiences are divorced from live performance. It is also a result of the increasingly detached productions and performances they are seeing on the Met stage. Mr. Gelb likes to talk about the theatricality he is seeking. Yet he more accurately describes his Met when he praises the director Michael Grandage’s work for its “cool and elegant aplomb.”

Cool and elegant productions result in chilled responses, and neither has much to do with opera. Opera is hot and passionate. So it is telling that Mr. Gelb has enthusiastically embraced a medium that lowers the temperature of the art form.

Even so, the power of the broadcasts is striking. As I traveled around the country, I came to find the video that played at the beginning, previewing the installments still to come, compelling. The reedy bite of the Baroque pastiche “The Enchanted Island” would play, fading as the theme of redemption through love, from Wagner’s “Ring” cycle, poured out of the surround sound. I shivered with anticipation and emotion every time. But during the operas themselves I grew restless and distracted, so close to the performers and yet so far.
The second article can be found here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/arts/ ... wanted=all

Steinway
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Re: MET HD: Reviewing the Experience

Post by Steinway » Sun May 06, 2012 12:21 pm

The Met HD performances have been a totally marvelous revelation for me. The sound is superb, the closeups are amazing, the backstage activities are an amazing insight into the makings of an opera otherwise unknown, the interviews are mostly enjoyable..on and on.

By the way, these HD showings have saved me a serious amount of dollars over the live Met performances. :D

Gelb's legacy and he should be lauded for having brought opera to millions of people who would have never experienced the pleasure and beauty of this genre.

nut-job
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Re: MET HD: Reviewing the Experience

Post by nut-job » Sun May 06, 2012 12:55 pm

Cliftwood wrote:The Met HD performances have been a totally marvelous revelation for me. The sound is superb, the closeups are amazing, the backstage activities are an amazing insight into the makings of an opera otherwise unknown, the interviews are mostly enjoyable..on and on.

By the way, these HD showings have saved me a serious amount of dollars over the live Met performances. :D

Gelb's legacy and he should be lauded for having brought opera to millions of people who would have never experienced the pleasure and beauty of this genre.
That's one side of it. Another is that this sort of thing tends to deflate regional opera companies, who find that the Met has come into their backyard to compete with them. (See the article linked by mastrob above.) It can be viewed as another side of the 1% effect, where big companies like the Met become stronger and smaller companies wither and vanish. Somehow I think a small opera company putting on a perhaps imperfect La Traviata has a value the seeing the Met's production in a movie house lacks.

The closeup's are another thing. They remove your right to look at the part of the scene that interests you. I haven't been to any of the Met HD showings, but I do watch opera on DVD, and I often find myself wishing that they would just show what is on stage, rather than show extreme close-ups of individual singers. Stage acting and movie acting are not the same thing, I don't like the idea of opera being turned into a movie.

lennygoran
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Re: MET HD: Reviewing the Experience

Post by lennygoran » Mon May 07, 2012 8:15 pm

nut-job wrote:
The closeup's are another thing. They remove your right to look at the part of the scene that interests you. .
You forget one thing--sometimes the seats you have restrict your rights too--take Nixon In China--we paid more than usual for orchestra seats and yet more than once I couldn't see Nixon--then I taped it from PBS--Nixon was much closer--those HD closeup can do wonders! Regards, Len

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