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Subject: Todays R&J and random thoughts about HD
From: charles mintzer <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:charles mintzer <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 21 Jan 2017 17:49:27 -0500

text/plain (15 lines)

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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