The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Metropolitan Opera’s hugely successful “Live in HD” satellite broadcasts are changing the opera world across the U.S. and the globe, according to the New York Times. Next season, the series will expand. | May 5, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

What kind of impact are the hugely successful “MET Live in HD” satellite broadcasts by the Metropolitan Opera having on the opera world? (In Madison, they are offered at two cinemas: Eastgate and Point, below.)

That is an excellent and, until, now, unanswered question. It is a question that New York Times critic Zachary Woolfe (below) set out to answer this past season – with comparative statistics as well as first-hand observations.

So this past season, which featured 11 different operas, Woolfe (below) traveled to 11 different cities across the U.S to see how they were faring.

The national report or survey is a brilliant idea, and one that explains why The New York Times largely continues to set the agenda for news reporting  be it politics or arts, in the U.S.

Woolfe related what he found in an outstanding front-page Arts Section story last Sunday. It features outstanding research as well as lots of national and international statistics and background or context.

Here is a link:

The next logical question, of course, is: How exactly is the same “Met Live in HD” changing the face of opera around the world? I am sure attendance and programming are involved.

As I recall, one music critic, Woolfe’s colleague at the Times senior critic Anthony Tommasini, recently told an audience in Madison how on one night in Vienna, more people were at a “Live in HD” broadcast at the movie theaters than were at a live opera perform at the Vienna State Opera.

And here is a link to the schedule of The Met LIVE in HD broadcast for next season, when it increases from 11 to 12 productions:

And here is a link to a follow-up story Woolfe did yesterday about the controversial new production of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle by the Met and how it fared better in HD than live (the story is second on the list):

What do you think of the Met’s Live in HD series?

Do you go? Regularly or sporadically?

What do you like or dislike most about them? The ticket price? The quality of the production? The behind-the-scenes looks and interviews with performers?

How do you think it affects attendance, including your own, at live local performances of opera?


  1. […] Classical music: The Metropolitan Opera’s hugely successful “Live in HD” satellite… ( […]

    Pingback by Thanks and an Opera | I choose how I will spend the rest of my life — May 6, 2012 @ 5:33 am

  2. My wife and I (living in Owensboro, KY) went to see Traviata at a theater in Bowling Green, KY. Going regularly to live opera is not an option for us, as we have but one semi-staged production a year with the OSO.

    This was our first HD opera experience. It is very different from going to an opera house, of course; so much of our experience there is as part of the audience, the crowd, the reactions, the “brava”s. Had our movie theater been full, perhaps we would have had something similar, if not quite the same. Yes, we all clapped. But two dozen people does not a large audience make. And there is, after all, something strange about applauding for people on a screen.
    Yet the music was wonderful. And the visual element was stunning. I can only imagine what impression the stark Traviata set made to its house audience. For us, however, it seemed rather to heighten the emotional energy of the performance. It was powerfully effective.

    I do not know how cameras affect production decisions, whether this is boon or bane for the world of opera. The NY critics can sort that out. I do know, however, that we will be attending the HD performances regularly next season. It was $40 well spent.

    Comment by David Goodwin — May 5, 2012 @ 9:21 am

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