Sunday 10 April 2011

New York Metropolitan Opera in HD or "It's OK just not to 'get' things"'

Last night we went to the opera.

I have heard several people saying how wonderful the transmission of live opera from the New York Met is. The system is that in order to bring opera to the masses - or to make more money - various major opera companies are transmitting their performances to cinemas and other venues around the world. You get to see things close up, get good sound production, comfy chairs, reasonable prices for major works, interviews with the stars. Altogether worth a look.

OK so they do this at the cinema in Sarlat - about 40 minutes away - and also in a Chateau even more locally. As we happened to be in the place where you could reserve tickets for the Chateau and that sounded really romantic let's give that a go. Opera/chateau/gardens/beautiful evening...................

And it was a really lovely evening. The chateau has renowned gardens and we arrived in plenty of time to get our tickets and have a walk around the garden which has a cliff top view of two major rivers with the valleys sprinkled with lovely farmhouses.

Now it begins to slip away.

The few people that were wandering around seemed to be dressed for a live performance of opera. Very dressed up, very posh english accents braying across the lawns welcoming each other.

The room where the screen has been set up is a large stone walled room but not completely dark on this beautiful evening. The chairs are standard plastic with added very thin cushions - for a 3 hour performance. The screen is a roll down white one like Dad used to show slides on (bit larger but you get the picture).

The show is a live showing so we are all dutifully in place by 7 pm. And off we go...... And the sound is just slightly out of sync with the pictures - they look as if they are miming. They are also acting for the stage and we are seeing it close up.

The singing of the main male voice was lovely.

The subtitles for a french performance were, of course, in french even though the opera was sung in french. I had read a synopsis of the plot and told Him Outdoors but evenso we were struggling to know what was going on. Now ok maybe that doesn't matter much with opera since the plots are fairly silly anyway but ..............

So here we are sat in a room with no atmosphere, sound/mouths out of sync, no idea what's going on, stagey acting. Get to the end of the aria and everyone in the room claps......

Nope, sorry, just don't get it. But as Billy Connolly says "That's OK".


  1. Sounds par for the course for anything organised by the French...we went to so many events where the idea was good, but the organisation diabolical and the idea seemed to be that once you'd paid your money they would cut as many corners as possible to make the profit.
    The best stuff used to be in the municipal theatres...amongst a lot of dross....where the seats were reasonably comfortable too.
    I learned to cut out anything held in a chateau, logis, manoir, you name it, as the 'pull' of the location was held to cover a multitude of more important sins.

    They do the opera relays here too, in theatres, but it is cheaper to go to live opera at the Teatro Nacional, so that's what we do.
    When there's anything we fancy, that is!

    I reckon you had a better night out at 'the lunch'...and no braying voices, either.

  2. What a shame, Rosie, after your justifiable anticipation. I haven't been to anything like it, so can't comment from experience, but I really hate it when sound and vision get out of synch on TV at times. Really spoils it for me. Hope the walk in the garden helped to compensate a bit.

  3. Oh yes Fly, I forgot it cost 14 euros each which is more than twice the cost of the local cinema!

  4. Oh well at least it was 'an experience' and you got to see a nice chateau and gardens!

    I've never 'got' opera anyway ;-)


  5. You dont know what you are missing! Try going to a proper cinema setting (with proper seats and a proper sound system with a professional operator) and give it another go. Depending on the opera of course, (obviously they vary), its divine. Why combine a chateau with an opera. Its not surprising they did not manage to give you a professional experience though it must have sounded enticing.