Transporting Opera to the Cinema

By January 11, 2011Music

Back in 2006, the opera’s general director, Peter Gelb, received a lot of skepticism when he announced his plans to transmit live opera to the cinema via satellite.  “Live in HD” initially launched to 56 theatres in four countries with a live broadcast of Julie Taymor’s production of Mozart’s “Magic Flute”.

Now, five years later, the Met boasts broadcasts in more than 1,500 theatres in 46 countries, including the program’s latest members Spain, Egypt and Portugal. Last year, “Live in HD” sold 2.4 million tickets for nine transmissions, which meant a total of more than $48 million at the box office.  Half of that amount went to the opera’s latest production – Verdi’s “Don Carlo”.

The way this venture has built up an audience, while generating revenue at the same time, is unheard of for a non-profit organization, according to the Wall Street Journal’s opera critic, Heidi Waleson.

Gelb says that opera fans treat operas no differently than how sports fans treat a game.  “Opera fans are as fanatical as sports fans even if an opera’s conclusion is never in doubt,” he says. “And audiences react as if they were in the opera house, even though they know that the singers can’t hear their applause. So we’re defying the trend of the individual entertainment experience.”

The “Live in HD” experience is a way for theatres to bring in an older demographic.  It also allows  and for fans to enjoy opera at low cost, build the opera community at a local level, as well as experience the Met at the Lincoln Center.  To read more about “Live in HD”, click here.

Photo from Google Images

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