October 12, 2011 10:00 PM

Opera at the Movies 10/15 - Anna Bolena live in HD

This Saturday marks the beginning of the Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD 2011-2012 series, which I hope you will consider adding to your list of things you must experience at least once.

The simulcast is fabulous as you can see the performers up close and personal, and also we are taken backstage during intermissions, with interviews and peeks at scenery changes. 

If you are new to opera, it helps to print and study the synopsis. You might want to Google and read some reviews.  The first in the series - which begins at 12:55 Saturday, is Anna Bolena with Anna Netrebko, recently found on a four-page spread in Newsweek magazine. I really think opera is having a surge in popularity, especially when I see so many young people studying it:    


Donizetti's Anna Bolena - New Production

October 15, 2011, 12:55 pm ET
U.S. Encore: November 2, 2011 6:30 pm local time
Canada Encores:November 12, 2011 1 pm local time
November 21, 2011, 6:30 pm local time

Anna Netrebko opens the Met season with her portrayal of the ill-fated queen driven insane by her unfaithful king. She sings one of opera's greatest mad scenes in this Met premiere production by David McVicar. Ekaterina Gubanova is her rival, Jane Seymour, Ildar Abdrazakov sings Henry VIII, and Marco Armiliato conducts.

I didn't grow up with the arts, but made a decision to learn as much as I could after I became an adult - specifically so I could open up worlds to my children that I hadn't known myself. Maria Montessori, convinced that the seeds for our futures are planted mostly before the age of 6, said it is our responsibility as parents and educators to give children the world - meaning a taste for the rich diversity in continents, countries, cultures - and the arts.

So, lo and behold, 20 years later, I have several opera singers among my kids. Honestly, it's not because they were pushed. I gave them a small introduction, but in their passion for opera they've taken me so many, many performances and taught me so much more.

Originally, my opera singers wanted to be Broadway singers, but somewhere along the line in their musical educations, they felt drawn to the challenge of perfecting their voices - power, range, control - and switched to opera. You have to understand that and opera singer can fill an entire concert hall with his or her voice - no mics needed. That is some amazing use of God's gift of vocal cords.

Opera is misunderstood by those who associate it with wealth and snobbery. And it's true that opera is expensive. But you can hear an opera live from the Metropolitan Opera in New York every Saturday for free on the radio.

And now, thanks to HD Live, you can see live simulcast operas on scattered Saturdays throughout the fall and spring. For three years, I've been going to these whenever possible - with whichever of my kids/ and or hubby can go - and I'm seeing a real resurgence in interest in opera as there are more opportunities for people to see it. Though these performances at select theaters only happen once or twice a month, they are sometimes sold out.

Which is why I'm so glad that a recently-opened theater near me has signed on for the concert series this year. The Cobb Theater in Leesburg will be participating in the nationwide simulcast of the Metropolitan Opera's Anna Bolena this Saturday at 12:55.  I will be there, so be sure to say hi if you go too.

Opera is also misunderstood as being less "real" than Broadway shows, but opera is not related to musical theater, really.  It is more descended from Greek tragedy, which is why everything seems so exaggerated in form  And ah, the form!  There's nothing like the tremendous amount of artistry, time and effort that goes into making an opera - the set, the costumes, months and sometimes years of preparation by a great singer for one particular role.

I recently came across a book which I enjoyed every page of and passed on to my kids, who are enjoying it too:  Who's Afraid of Opera?  It's reader-friendly, humorous, informative and very down-to-earth.  Great for someone curious about opera, but also one who already knows it all.  Check your library - or Amazon has copies for a penny.

Here are the links you need to know:

Metropolitan Opera 2011-2012 Live in HD Series

Met - Anna Bolena Live-buy tickets (Fathom entertainment-check out their other great events)


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Thanks for reminding me about this! I took my mom to an "encore" one this summer for her birthday, and we both agreed it was a great way to see opera! Great seats for a fraction of the price and totally unpretentious: We grabbed a burrito, then popped in to see the opera! Who knew that opera and burritos were such good companions? lol

Posted by: marian | October 13, 2011 7:33 AM

Opera is a predecessor of musical theatre, so they are related, but opera came first!! And while critics say neither is "real" because there is music, they reveal that they've never lived with children because we routinely burst into random song at my house!!

Posted by: Emily | October 13, 2011 7:55 AM

I'm thinking of seeing Siegfried in November.

Posted by: Julana | October 13, 2011 5:45 PM

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