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The Tempest and Much More From the Met

Janos Gereben on November 6, 2012
The Tempest Met
Audrey Luna sings the role of Ariel in The Tempest
Photos by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

High-definition transmissions live to local movie theaters from the Metropolitan Opera and major opera houses in Europe are the new normal for enjoying the genre.

The current seventh season of Met: Live in HD is showing in 1,900 theaters in 60 countries. Live showing are on Saturday, beginning at 9:55 a.m. Pacific time for most operas; encore presentations are on Wednesday afternoons 18 days after the live exhibitions.

The next event in the Met series is the Nov. 10 screening of Thomas Adès' The Tempest, with the composer conducting his opera based on Shakespeare's play.

Instead of the island setting of the play, Canadian director Robert Lepage, responsible for the Met's recent Wagner Ring, has placed the production in the interior of 18th-century La Scala opera house in this staging.

The New York Times music critic Anthony Tomassini called the work "one of the most inspired, audacious and personal operas to have come along in years." Martin Berheimer, in The Financial Times, was more restrained: "The sprawling Tempest ensemble performed with rare virtuosity predicated on virtue. Adès’ orchestral magnitude and Meredith Oakes’ first clever, eventually cloying rhymes probably precluded verbal clarity. Fortunately, text projections at the base of the set minimized the problem, reinforcing mime over matter."

"To swim, to dive into the fire, to ride on the curl'd clouds," an acrobat helps out with Ariel's... acrobatics
"To swim, to dive into the fire, to ride on the curl'd clouds," an acrobat helps out with Ariel's... acrobatics

Next up is La Clemenza di Tito, written by Mozart in 1791, the last year of his life. It is a dramatic opera about intrigue and political struggle in ancient Rome. Giuseppe Filianoti sings the title role, the production also features mezzo Elina Garanca as Sesto (a role originally written for a castrato) amd soprano Barbara Frittoli as Vitellia.

Verdi's 1859 Un Ballo in Maschera follows, in director David Alden’s dreamlike setting for a story of jealousy and vengeance. Marcelo Álvarez stars as the conflicted king; Sondra Radvanovsky is Amelia, the object of his secret passion; and Dmitri Hvorostovsky is her suspicious husband. Stephanie Blythe sings the role of the fortune-teller Ulrica.

Another Verdi, the 1871 Aida, features Liudmyla Monastyrska, a new, young Ukrainian star, as the enslaved Ethiopian princess; Radamès is sung by Roberto Alagna, Egyptian princess Amneris by Olga Borodina.

One of the Met season's most awaited productions is Berlioz's mighty 1858 drama about the Trojan War, Les Troyens, a 5 1/2-hour epic. Two San Francisco Opera Merola/Adler veterans, Deborah Voigt and Susan Graham, sing leading roles, along with Marcello Giordani and Dwayne Croft. Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leads the large-scale musical forces.

Local movie theaters participating include Century 9 San Francisco Centre, San Francisco Cinearts Empire 3, and Daly City 20. The schedule:

  • The Tempest, 9:55 a.m. Nov. 10; 6:30 p.m. Nov. 28
  • La Clemenza di Tito, 9:55 a.m. Dec. 1; 6:30 p.m. Dec. 19
  • Un Ballo di Maschera, 9:55 a.m. Dec. 8; 6:30 p.m. Jan. 9
  • Aida, 9:55 a.m. Dec. 15; 6:30 p.m. Jan. 16
  • Les Troyens, 9 a.m. Jan. 5; 6:30 p.m. Jan. 23

Tickets are $22-$24 Saturdays; $20-$22 Wednesdays. For information: (415) 538-8422 (for Century 9), for online purchase.

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