Thursday, February 29, 2024
February 29, 2024

Met series creates opera fans

Submitted by ArtSpring

Think opera isn’t for you? You may be surprised by Met Opera at ArtSpring.

While opera certainly has its ardent devotees, for the uninitiated it can conjure up images of hefty women in horned helmets hitting high notes, foreign languages, overwrought historic storylines and insufferable performance lengths. In other words, not everyone’s cup of tea.

ArtSpring has been looking to change that stereotype with its exciting Met Opera: Live in HD series, which broadcasts live performances from the Metropolitan Opera in New York on selected Saturday mornings throughout the ArtSpring season. From the viewpoint of fans and the newly converted, it is an experience that is one of Salt Spring’s best kept secrets.

“I attended my first opera at ArtSpring two years ago, and the experience was so unexpected, it made a lasting impression on me,” said patron Dawna Lewis. “From the technology to the behind-the-scenes coverage to the excitement of people around the world sitting down at the same time to watch the same powerful performance live, there are so many advantages to taking a chance on opera in this form.”

Seventeen years ago, The Met began broadcasting live operas to performing arts centres and movie theatres as a way of expanding its audience worldwide. From its early days, ArtSpring partnered with the initiative to bring this unique experience to the community. 

Local audiences arrive for the 10 a.m. curtain call with coverage of the New York audience arriving at their own assigned seats and various viewpoints. Unlike those attending The Met in person, Salt Springers on the other hand are greeted, in whatever comfortable attire they wish to wear, by a notable broadcast host who introduces the production and the players. 

In HD, the camera angles provide emotional close-ups. Intermission includes interviews with the conductor, musicians and the stars, and the controlled chaos of stage hands and production designers moving set pieces showcases a much larger picture of what it takes to present a performance of this size. Coffee and the much-coveted quiche break make for a Saturday well spent. 

“People who love it or even try it for the first time are blown away,” said ArtSpring communications manager Kirsten Bolton. “I attended our first presentation of the season in October, Dead Man Walking, a contemporary English-language presentation, and audience members were audibly weeping it was so moving. I’ve been bombarded with requests to let more people know about the opera series.” 

Challenging the status quo with premieres, new works, revivals and modernizations in multiple languages, the art form forges on with the newest offering of Florencia en el Amazonas on Dec. 9. Sung in Spanish (with subtitles) and inspired by the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez, Mexican composer Daniel Catán’s 1996 opera focuses on opera diva Florencia Grimaldi, who returns to her native Brazil to perform and search for her lost lover who has vanished into the jungle. The mystical realm of the Amazon is portrayed from a river boat as fellow travellers feud and complicate the mission.

ArtSpring presents six operas this season, including the majesty of Verdi’s Nabucco in early January, a modernist take on Bizet’s Carmen late January, March’s Verdi-composed La Forza del Destino and the romantic Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod. 

Tickets include $25 adult, $20 senior and $15 youth at tickets.artspring.ca or the box office from Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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