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The Met At The Movies

Thursday, December 28-----In a bold new experiment designed to reach younger audiences, New York's famed Metropolitan Opera will offer several of its most celebrated productions to an international network of movie theaters. The first of these will be the December 30th presentation of Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE. The production, directed by stage and film director Julie Taymor, will be beamed live from the stage of The Metropolitan Opera directly into movie theaters around the globe.

All of this, plus several other innovative marketing ploys designed to make opera more accessible to a wider audience, is the mastermind of former Sony Classical head Peter Gelb, who took the reins as General Director of the Metropolitan Opera less than six months ago. “We're creating the operatic model equivalent of a movie rollout," said Gelb, whose resume in classical music includes running the Met's TV and video productions during the 1980s.

THE MAGIC FLUTE will be presented in an English-language version as conceived by the innovative director of Broadway’s long-running musical hit THE LION KING in hundreds of cinema multiplexes in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan in high definition video, projected onto movie screens.

On January 6th, the Met series will present a new production of I PURITANI, starring one of opera’s most dynamic new divas, Anna Netrebko. The series continues on January 13th with the world premiere of Chinese composer Tan Dun’s opera THE FIRST EMPEROR, sung by opera legend Placido Domingo. February 24th sees a production of EUGENE ONEGIN, with opera stars Renee Fleming and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. The series concludes with the March 24th production of THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, and a new production of Puccini’s triptych opera IL TRITTICO on April 28th.

The live opera presentations are a joint venture with National CineMedia, a company that presents live sporting and concert events for 11,000 movie theaters belonging to AMC Entertainment, Cinemark USA and Regal Entertainment Group throughout the world. More than 100 theaters in the United States are equipped for the high definition broadcast, with 55 presenting THE MAGIC FLUTE. More are expected to join in as the series continues through the rest of the Met’s opera season.

The Metropolitan Opera is also moving into the new media arenas of satellite radio and the internet, with audio broadcasts via Sirius Satellite Network of contemporary and classic opera recordings, and making available webcasts of whole operas, opera recitals, as well as special backstage documentaries.

Aside from the technical issues involved, one of the biggest hurdles in making such an ambitious project a reality was an agreement reached with the professional unions and the Metropolitan Opera. This Fall, the three unions representing the Met's orchestra, stagehands and singers and dancers agreed to contracts replacing up-front payments with revenue-sharing deals on the HD broadcasts. "This is all a big experiment, but one that is essential to keep opera as a living art form”, Gelb proclaimed.

For more information on the broadcasts, the operas to be presented and participating theaters, log on to: Metropolitan Opera Live Broadcasts


Sandy Mandelberger
Film New York Editor

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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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