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Subject: Re: Todays R&J and random thoughts about HD
From: Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 21 Jan 2017 18:54:52 -0500

text/plain (115 lines)


This group would benefit from your well reasoned, and even handed
participation.  It has almost become a cliché of these HD presentations
when the host invites the movie audience to "come to the house" for the
thrill of "truly live" as opposed to a "virtually live" performance.  As
with most clichés there is more than a grain in truth in what they say,
which your experience as well as my own confirms.

If I were home listening to this performance on the radio, Grigolo would
have been the undoubted star - by quite a large margin.  Damrau would not
have hit her vocal stride until the so called Poison aria -  even
then delivering only vestigial trills - when the music as well as the
emotion demands the real, fully executed article.  As an aside, I might
also have appreciated Laurent Nouri's French diction.

But, rather than hovering around the radio  I was sitting in a movie
theatre where the whole thing exploded into vivid and immediate life -
primarily due to the skill of the singing actors who melded their diverse
vocal talents with a seamless commitment to believing and then telling the
story at hand.  How many Hollywood  or Broadway actors could survive the
relentless close ups of  the HD cameras - with no opportunities for
re-takes - the way Grigolo, Damrau, and Company did -  I never once saw a
false moment or sense someone dropping character.  I'm sure director
Bartlett Sher had something to do with this too, but the raw material he
had to work with was very impressive at the outset.

When you combine the aural with the visual - as Opera is intended to do -
you tend to have more of a "quid pro quo" where visual elements can often
compensate for aural shortcomings, as well as its converse.   If all of
this is working as it should, you will be so caught up you won't even
notice where these sorts of trade offs occur.  From that standpoint the net
result of today's "R & J" was a triumph!


On Sat, Jan 21, 2017 at 5:49 PM, charles mintzer <[log in to unmask]>

> I have never posted on this list about the Met HDs, even though this new
> way of experiencing opera is in its eleventh year and I have seen almost
> all of them. Two of our regular posters have already chimed in about
> today’s R&J, my friend Bob Rideout and Idia with almost polar opposite
> experiences. Like Bob I appreciate fine vocal art and artistry, but I will
> go back to what I was expressing to friends who were curious about the new
> phenomena eleven years ago. The Met HDs are a different experience than
> attending in the opera house, listening to recordings or live performances
> over the radio.The fine film work and the superb story-telling lets one
> accept less than perfect singing. Damrau and Grigolo today were very
> physical presences and made the eternal love story throb with great passion
> and brought the audience into the thrill of opera. I made a specific
> reference to the Met’s HDs, because I have a friend in the UK who goes to
> most of them and tells me that the Met HDs are superior to the European
> ones he has seen; perhaps the “live” element plays into this. I see the Met
> HDs at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Adjacent to the opera house in
> BAM, in the same building, there used to be a smaller theater, but it has
> now been carved into a cinema 4-plex. Two of the cinemas, both seating
> about 300, present the HDs. The better movie theater has a stadium-like
> seating, but they charge extra and start an hour earlier as they offer a
> lecture, usually by an authority from the Met (I think Fred Plotkin does
> most of them). The other theater has open seating and public for these is I
> would estimate 80-plus percent Russian. I have noticed that standard
> [repertory operas that were popular in the Soviet period draw capacity
> audiences while some of the non-Standard or more challenging offerings draw
> fewer attendees. (for example, I noticed last year that “Tannhauser,” which
> was never given in the Soviet period, perhaps because of its strong
> Christian theme, the theater was half-empty). Today I was very aware, that
> at almost 82 year old, I was with my age peers; I have not noticed over the
> eleven years many young people in attendance, and I believe Gelb believed
> that the Met HDs would engage this age group. By the way in the second
> curtain call (the first was just Damrau and Grigolo), he lifted her up like
> a ballet dancer and carried her to the side of the stage, and she in a
> flowing white gown was quite a site, and a thrill for the audience. Two
> complaints today: the boor or clacquer who chimed in loudly at the applause
> moments, and a really serious problem in the last few years at BAM with a
> very dark picture. True, much of R&J takes place at night, but there was
> hardly any difference between day and night scenes. I have complained to
> BAM staff about this, hoping they could brighten the picture, but was told
> they give you what comes over the satellite. I can tell before the opera
> starts if this is going to be a problem, because when they pan the in-house
> audience in the auditorium and when you see no gold or red, but overall a
> darkish brown you know you are in for a dark “feed.” I wouldn’t mention
> this, but in the first eight or nine years the picture was always true and
> bright. However, in fairness, the close-ups still film well, but the full
> stage scenes are way too dark.
> Charles Mintzer
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