The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Saturday at noon, Bizet’s “Carmen” airs in cinemas during “Live from The Met in HD” and on Wisconsin Public Radio. Saturday night, the Pro Arte Quartet performs a FREE concert of Haydn, Schumann and Shostakovich | February 1, 2019

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ALERT: This Saturday night, Feb. 2, at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Pro Arte Quartet performs a FREE concert. The program offers the String Quartet in D Major, Op. 50, No. 6, “The Frog” by Franz Joseph Haydn; the String Quartet No. 9 in E-flat Major by Dmitri Shostakovich; and the String Quartet in A Major, Op. 41, No. 3, by Robert Schumann. For more about the unusual history of the critically acclaimed Pro Arte Quartet, go to:

By Jacob Stockinger

This Saturday, Feb. 2, the seventh production of this season’s “Metropolitan Opera Live in HD” series is Georges Bizet’s lusty, sultry  and violent “Carmen,” one of the most popular operas ever composed.

Its successful world premiere was in Paris in 1875, which Bizet did not live to see. But Bizet’s masterpiece of the gypsy seductress who lives by her own rules has had an impact far beyond the opera house.

The opera’s beautiful melodies are as irresistible as the title character herself, a force of nature who has become a defining female cultural figure. (You can hear one of Carmen’s signature arias– “Love Is a Wild Bird” — in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

“Carmen” was a scandal at its premiere but soon after became a triumphal success and has remained one of the most frequently staged operas in the world.

French mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine reprises her acclaimed portrayal of opera’s ultimate temptress, a triumph in her 2017 debut performances.

Opposite her is the impassioned tenor Roberto Alagna (below right, in a photo by Karen Almond for The Met) as her lover, Don José.

French native Louis Langrée (below, in a photo by Jennifer Taylor), who heads the Mostly Mozart Festival and is the artistic director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, will conduct Sir Richard Eyre’s production, a Met favorite since its 2009 premiere.

The hi-definition broadcast of the live performance from the Metropolitan Opera (below) in New York City starts at 11:55 a.m. and runs until 3:45 p.m. with two intermissions. (It will also air at noon on Wisconsin Public Radio.)

There will be encore HD showings next Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (“Carmen” is so popular that some cities will also host a second encore showing on Saturday, Feb. 9.)

The opera will be sung in French with supertitles in English, German, Spanish and Italian.

Tickets for Saturday broadcasts are $24 for adults, and $22 for seniors and children under 13. For encore showings, all tickets are $18.

The cinemas where the opera can be seen are two Marcus Cinemas: the Point Cinema on the west side of Madison (608 833-3980) and the Palace Cinema (608 242-2100) in Sun Prairie.

Here is a link to the Marcus Theaters website for addresses and more information. You can also use them to purchase tickets:

Here is a link to the Metropolitan Opera’s website where you can find the titles, dates, casts, production information and video clips of all Met productions this season:

Here is a link to a synopsis and cast list:

Here is a link to other information about the production of “Carmen,” including photos and audiovisual clips:

And here is a Wikipedia history of the broadcast series that gives you more information about how many cinemas it uses, the enormous size of the worldwide audience – now including Russia, China and Israel — and how much money it makes for The Met.

Posted in Classical music
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  1. Here’s a superb Carmen from the Paris-Bastille Opera, conductor: Frédéric Chaslin
    that is absolutely free. It has about 1.5 million hits by the way. Why pay so much to see what is in essence a movie?


    Comment by fflambeau — February 1, 2019 @ 9:03 pm

  2. Sent from my iPad


    Comment by JUDITH KIMBLE — February 1, 2019 @ 6:35 am

  3. I’ve done some research on the Met and have come to the conclusion that it represents a form of cultural imperialism and inequality in a very unequal and unfair economic system.

    Peter Gelb, the Met’s Director, made almost $2 million a year in salary in 2012 ($1.8 million according to Met tax figures). Sure, he voluntarily took a pay cut shortly afterwards but still makes around $1.5 million annually ($1.395 million in 2014). Meanwhile, the Met’s unions were asked to cut compensation by 16-17 per cent.

    “Peter Gelb’s salary is not only obscene but a disgraceful affront to the men and women who actually make the opera and whose lives Gelb is threatening to destroy,” said Alan Gordon, the president of the American Guild of Musical Theater Artists (AGMA), in an e-mail. AGMA represents the company’s singers, dancers and production staff.”

    Sound familiar? It’s Trump’s America all over again and mirrors the inequality in the wider society.

    While Gelb is raking in millions, the people who put on the operas in the pit are making out like peons. In 2013,”The average full-time orchestra member earned $200,000 plus $85,000 in benefits.” That might sound great until you realize that these are the people who do most of the work.

    So, big opera company rakes in millions (especially on the cd ticket sales) and gives it mostly to a few superstars and to overpaid administrators. That is our economic system at present but it doesn’t have to be that way.

    The Met could still make a profit and pay their “little people” more and could also cut outrageous ticket prices and contribute some of their earnings to university and local opera companies and schools of music.

    And the Ear (and other gatekeepers that the Met,and record labels too rely on) instead of being a cheerleader for a kind of cultural imperialism by just “spreading the word” could actually do something to change the current unfair system by at least adding criticism to what is going on.


    Comment by fflambeau — February 1, 2019 @ 4:44 am

  4. Ouch! Look at those ticket prices: “Tickets for Saturday broadcasts are $24 for adults, and $22 for seniors and children under 13. For encore showings, all tickets are $18.”
    How about nominally priced tickets for students and the young (say $5) and a big reduction for seniors (say $10)


    Comment by fflambeau — February 1, 2019 @ 12:25 am

  5. I’m an opera lover but I’m not sold on the Met’s actions which seem mostly to aim at making money.

    Does it expand the audience? Likely not. From the Wikipedia article cited in the original: “A 2011 University of British Columbia thesis found that “Live in HD does not at present cannibalize the local live opera audience … [but t]here is no evidence that [it] generates more live opera attendance or brings new audiences into local opera houses”.[12]

    The ticket prices, for what in essence is a live movie, are high too. My feeling:

    1) make it more affordable;
    2) devote a significant part of the revenues to building new opera and advancing the cause of opera in the US including outreach programs.


    Comment by fflambeau — February 1, 2019 @ 12:22 am

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