Live from New York

To bring the Metropolitan Opera to Israel this Saturday via live broadcast, the Jerusalem Cinematheque acquired commensurately advanced technology.

opera 521 (photo credit: Courtesy: Metropolitan Opera)
opera 521
(photo credit: Courtesy: Metropolitan Opera)
Israeli fans of opera get to indulge their musical bent, live, several times a year at venues like the Israel Opera House and various more provincial locations during the year, but it is generally only the wellheeled who catch some operatic action on some of the world’s grander stages. But this Saturday, opera lovers with tighter purse strings can enjoy some of the best that New York has to offer when the Metropolitan Opera starts beaming some of its current programs to Jerusalem.
With the support of the Jerusalem Foundation, the Jerusalem Cinematheque will work with the Met to screen live broadcasts of the new 2011/12 performance season The Met: Live in HD. This is the sixth year that the New York institution is offering its wares to an international audience, and the Jerusalem Cinematheque is now joining illustrious venues in 52 other countries in enjoying live broadcasts of the performances, of the best quality that technology can provide.
First up is David McVicar’s new production of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, starring Anna Netrebko as the ill-fated queen, and Ekaterina Gubanova in the role of her rival, Jane Seymour.
The screenings will start at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time which, until the US changes from daylight saving time on November 6, is 7 p.m. here.
This represents quite an upgrade for the local entertainment calendar. “We are now significantly enhancing Jerusalem’s cultural offerings,” says Jerusalem Foundation president Ruth Cheshin, “and, in so doing, we join an international enterprise conducted simultaneously in many capital cities around the world.”
Meanwhile, Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb says that the aim of the project is to increase the number of international audiences of the opera and to open the door for new viewers “that do not necessarily know the magnificent creations this art has to offer.”
BUT THIS has not come cheap. As Jerusalem Cinematheque director Yigal Molad-Hayo notes, the enterprise involved some serious negotiations and the acquisition of commensurately advanced technology.
“It was quite a long haul to get this together. It took us a whole year to get everything in place to make this happen,” says Molad-Hayo. But everything eventually found its slot. The HD-quality screening system set the Cinematheque back around NIS 500,000. Funding for the new technology was facilitated via the Jerusalem Foundation, which raised the required finances from the Crown family.
The Met: Live in HD season incorporates nine productions, including some perennial favorites and several less frequently performed works. The second opera in the series, on October 29, is a new youthful and sensual production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni by Mariusz Kwiecien, directed by Tony Award-winning director Michael Grandage, with Fabio Luisi conducting. The vocalists include Marina Rebeka, Barbara Frittoli, Ramón Vargas and Luca Pisaroni.
Next month, on November 19, the Cinematheque audience will be treated to a visually extravagant production of Philip Glass’s Satyagraha, with Richard Croft in the role of Gandhi. Other slots will be taken by Handel’s Rodelinda and new productions of Gounod’s Faust and Massenet’s Manon. The season closes on April 14 with Verdi’s La Traviata, produced by Willy Decker and starring Natalie Dessay, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Matthew Polenzani. Once again, Luisi will occupy the conductor’s podium.
Initially the Cinematheque’s Auditorium 1 will house the event, although Molad-Hayo foresees the newer Auditorium 3 also being used for the series if sales dictate.
“I am happy to say that sales of tickets for the entire season are going very well right now. We started with season tickets, and then began selling tickets for individual operas. If demand exceeds the capacity of the main auditorium, we will be able to show the operas in Auditorium 3 as well,” he says.
Molad-Hayo adds that the innovative event has drawn patrons from across the board.
“We have had people of all ages and from all walks of life buying season tickets. They have also come from all over the country, not just Jerusalem.”
Molad-Hayo is already looking to the future. “Next year we have the possibility of running the project in other places around the country. We are a sort of concessionaire of the Metropolitan Opera for Israel. We wanted to start off in Jerusalem only. People come to the Cinematheque from all over Israel for the film festival every year, so they know how to get to us,” laughs Molad-Hayo.
Naturally, having an HD system for the Met season also leaves the Cinematheque with state-of-the-art means to use for its regular year-round activities as well.
“The system also includes 3D technology,” notes Molad-Hayo, “and we plan to screen movies filmed in 3D as of next year.”
The Met: Live in HD season, it seems, is already a winner.
For more information and tickets: (02) 565-4356 and