COME Saturday, opera lovers will be treated to another performance in the Live in HD series from New York’s Metropolitan Opera at Carib 5 in Cross Roads, St Andrew.
This time it will be Otello, Verdi’s Shakespearean tragedy starring Johan Botha and Renée Fleming as his innocent wife, Desdemona.
This follows on the recent curtain-raiser to the season, Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore.
Douglas Graham, Palace Amusement’s managing director, says the response to the new attraction has been “extremely positive”.
“The audiences have not been very large but they have been very good audiences in terms of response. We are aware that there is a lot of social awareness about the opera and that it might take some time before that awareness is translated into response. We know that we are dealing with an audience that might not traditionally be cinema-goers and who might not be easily reached, but we expect that before long, we will have big audiences and even sold-out audiences. We are following the same pattern that the Met has experienced in every country they have gone into,” says Graham.
For the curtain-raiser a week ago, a moderate, but appreciate audience was on hand at Carib 5 to view the first opera of the Met’s season which was being broadcast to 1,900 cinemas in 64 countries.
Carib 5 with its impressive technical capabilities was the perfect setting to enjoy the comedy which stars Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, Matthew Polenzani, Mariuz Kwiecien, and Ambrogio Maestri.
L’Elisir d’Amore is a simple story of love, but as was also pointed out, nothing is ever what it seems in a opera plot.
Polenzani plays Nemorino a simple villager who is absolutely besotted with Adina (Netrebko), the commanding and irresistible farmer.
Too shy to make his feelings known his hopes seem dashed when into town rides the deboniar army officer, Belcore (Kwiecien), who sweeps Adina off her feet and at the end of the whirlwind are bethroed.
Running out of options to win the heart of Adina, Nemorino turns to a mystery elixir being peddled by travelling salesman Doctor Dulcamara (Maestri).
The comedy is rich and meaty, yet goes down light and therefore easily digestible, thanks in part to the use of subtitles for the non-Italian-speaking patrons. Netrebkos striking looks and her full-bodied sound add greatly to the development of the character. Maestri is also a scene stealer with his ‘sweet mouth’ which lures hapless patrons to buy his concoctions which promise a variety of results.
The opera also benefits from great costuming, majestic sets and of course great voices and music, all which come reach a thrilling crescendo by the final scenes.
Being HD — high definition — the details are amazing. Every bead of sweat, every strand of hair is visible and adds to the experience.
Cameras also take cinema audiences behind the scenes during the set changes and offer interviews with cast and crew, something one does not get by attending a performance at The Met.
As one patron noted: “Its better than a seat at the opera house, they don’t get these close-ups”.
Other performances set for the rest of this year are The Tempest, Mozart’s La Clemenza di Titto, Un Ballo in Maschara, and Verdi popular work Aida.