I’ve been to Revere a handful of times and today it was to see an opera.
This is the second year of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s HD simulcast project, in which live performances are beamed to hundreds of movie theaters running digital projection. This one was Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes. I don’t know squat about opera but it was kind of awesome, both from a logistical standpoint and because it annoys a certain strain of opera purist.
The local Boston showing was sold out so instead we got Clive to drive us to Showcase Cinemas. There were some expected culture clashes (“IS THIS COFFEE STARBUCKS?”), and the signal glitched out for about 30 seconds, but overall it went smoothly. In addition to the performance itself the Met ran additional programming on Britten and the opera’s background, and the live cameras moved freely around backstage before the program and between acts. There was something especially charming about interviewing the sweaty performers who’d just come off stage (“Hi mom!”). The bonus material was hosted by French soprano Natalie Dessay, who had more enthusiasm (“Now let us enjoy Britten’s sad and ‘orrible opera!”) than skill (“So you are Scottish, and Britten was British…”). Not everybody can be good at everything.
As much as I liked this, I am not disappointed to be missing next week’s five and a half hour simulcast of Tristan. For one thing, the last opera I saw was also in German. The next one will be in Sanskrit.