Making opera accessible: the Metropolitan’s ‘Live in HD’ at the cinema

I doubt if I would have visited an opera if I hadn’t found an accessible way of visiting. Opera, at least in the UK, is still inextricably linked to the social elite and I imagine – perhaps incorrectly – that the opera house is stuffy and pompous. The cinema, on the other hand… well, I’ve seen some of my favourite films there, and one of my favourite things to do is watch films.

New York’s Metropolitan’s ‘Live in HD’ opera shows, where they transmit operas and other musical performances live to dozens of different countries, offers just that – an easy and familiar way to see some of the best opera performed anywhere. I went recently to see Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’ at the Rex in Geneva and I really enjoyed it. I’ve started listening to operas outside of the theatre, too.

Interestingly, it’s typical for people to dress up, wearing outfits that wouldn’t look out of place in the Met’s theatre itself. It was quite something to people in their Sunday best, in furs and diamonds, at the cinema. In some cinemas you can bring food, too – there is often a long interval (we were given free champagne at this recent event). Now this is my kind of viewing: some of the best performances, screening in HD with excellent sound, in a deep comfortable seat and the promise of something good to eat.

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