The Outdoor HD Festival at The Met
There’s a certain camaraderie between New Yorkers during the summer months – from being bottled up all winter to sharing the public spaces of this city, its population comes together to enjoy the riches that New York gives for three months every year. We love our movies in Bryant Park, our NY Philharmonic performances in Central and Prospect Parks, summer music festivals, Midsummer Night Swings and South Street Seaport celebrations. All of these are annual traditions that bring every New Yorker of every age and every background together outdoors in the warm, summer air. And this week is no different – as summer comes to an end, the Met Opera is hosting the Summer HD Festival through Labor Day with free outdoor opera screenings in Lincoln Center as a taste of what the Fall Season will bring.
I arrived at the Josie Robertson Plaza of Lincoln Center to find thousands of chairs facing the façade of the Metropolitan Opera House. In the center of the columned building, a giant, dark screen floated between the two Chagall pieces inside the hall – a perfect frame for what was about to come. I was early – it was only 6:30pm, but I knew better. The show would begin at 8pm, but the seats were already half filled (the other half covered with bags marking them ‘taken’). There were Upper West Side tweens with their international parents eating sandwiches; there were numerous retirees with their bottles of wine and blocks of cheese; there were students and artists and workers and dancers from the Julliard school; and there were folks like me, waiting patiently with a book or with a smartphone for the sun to set and the show to begin.
It was a lovely evening at the opera with HD quality video and sound projected on the sole, center screen – the view was probably better than any seat I would be able to afford inside of the Met Opera House, and the hush of the audience with the city’s soundtrack behind us made it even more special. Monday night’s screening was of La Sonnambula, (The Sleepwalker), by Vincenzo Bellini, with Mary Zimmerman’s creative modern adaptation. To be honest, I am more of a traditionalist when it comes to opera, however this was a very inventive setting, with the story taking place within an opera rehearsal. Don’t get me wrong, I also do love surrealist adaptations of operas, but the modern productions just don’t sit with me as well, personally.
Above all, the experience of sitting in the plaza of Lincoln Center is magical, and to share it before this summer season ends is a must-do this week! If you want to feel like a true New Yorker, pack a snack or a full course dinner, some wine, some friends, and enjoy the opera!
1. The Summer HD Festival: The Summer HD Festival continues through Monday, September 3rd, 2012 with screenings starting no earlier than 7:30pm. At Lincoln Center (Columbus Avenue between 63rd & 64th Streets), New York, NY.
2. Screenings: Tonight’s screening is of Strauss’s Salome, a dark and morbid tale with hypnotizing music and a dramatic production. Upcoming screenings include Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella) and Le Comte Ory, Gounod’s Faust, Verdi’s Il Trovatore, and Donizetti’s Anna Bolena.
3. Met Opera’s Fall Season: The Met Opera Fall Season begins in September2012 with seven new productions and two Met premieres including Adés’s The Tempest and Verdi’s Rigoletto set in 1960’s Las Vegas. For more information, go to MetOpera.org.
4. Opening Night: Every year, the Met Opera broadcasts the Opening Night Gala to screens in Lincoln Center and Times Square for FREE! Be sure to catch this year’s broadcast of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore on Monday, September 24th, 2012 out in the open. For more information, go to MetOpera.org.
5. Wagner’s Dream: Spring 2013, the Met Opera will stage an ambitious production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, a 16-hour opera divided into four parts. Check out the documentary, Wagner’s Dream, which shows the making-of and behind-the-scenes footage of this tremendous production! Visit MetOpera.org/ring for tickets!