Met opener an opaque experience
The Metropolitan Opera opened its 125th season Monday night with a glitzy, relentlessly promoted evening as Renee Fleming tackled a trio of favored roles in separate staged acts, with tenor Ramon Vargas and baritone Thomas Hampson providing backup firepower.
The added novelty was that the gala was transmitted live throughout North America at movie theaters as part of The Met: Live in HD series. I caught the La Traviata and Manon excerpts at the South Beach Stadium on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Fleming looked radiant— though alarmingly thin, a soprano friend thought—and for the most part sang with gorgeous tone, security, dramatic depth and emotional commitment, The popular soprano was at her finest in Act 2 of Traviata, bringing a world-weary sadness and desperate sensuality to the doomed Violetta, with excellent support from Vargas and Hampson, as Alfredo and Germont.
The Massenet fared less well with awkward stage direction and a bland designer gown, Fleming as Manon indulging in the odd pauses and italicized emphases she sometimes falls prey to. Vargas was terrific, however, fiery and intense with big vibrant tone in Ah, fuyez.
I left before the Capriccio finale, partly due to an early morning flight and partly due to the mounting frustration of watching the poor quality image on the big screen. This is the second Live in HD performance I attended at this theater and also the second time I’ve experienced inferior video. After I reported the dark, muddy image for Romeo et Juliette in the Miami Herald last season, I was assured by top Met officials that this was a fluke, and that the matter was investigated and the issue rectified.
Apparently not, because the image was once again washed out, lacking color and sharpness with a muted gray-green hue predominating. The Manon in particular was so opaque and devoid of color it looked like a 1950s black-and-white TV relay. The event was live from the Met as promised, but the image on the South Beach screen was incontrovertibly not high-definition quality. Again.
For the next broadcast, Strauss’s Salome with Karita Mattila on Oct. 11, I’ll try a different theater and report back. Meanwhile I’m interested in hearing about the experiences of others who attended Monday’s Met transmission. Feel free to post a comment and please be specific about the location and theater where you attended.
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Wed Sep 24, 2008
at 7:27 am