Cinematic Opera

SF Opera's Cinemacasts Spring 2008

March 8-11 2008: La Rondine
March 29- April 1 2008: Samson et Dalila
April 12-15 2008: Don Giovanni 
April 19-22 2008: Madama Butterfly

West Coast Locations (North to South):

1 Galaxy Way
Monroe, WA 98272

Carmike 12
1331 N. Center Parkway
Kennewick, WA 99336

Carmike 12
750 NE Circle Boulevard
Corvalis, OR 97330

Cinema West
1241 Main Street
Fortuna, CA 95540

Cinema West
6868 McKinley Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Cinema West
Fiesta Plaza Shopping Center
200 Siesta Way
Sonoma, CA 95476 

Cinema West
Petaluma Blvd. at C Street
Petaluma, CA 94952

Cinema West
1228 S. Main Street
Angels Camp, CA 95222

Cinema West
9 Broadway Boulevard
Fairfax, CA 94930

2525 Patterson Road
Riverbank, CA 95367

Cinema West
2490 First Street
Livermore, CA 94550

UltraStar Flower Hill
2630 Via De La Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014

UltraStar Mission Valley
7510 Hazard Center Drive #100
San Diego, CA 92108

The 120 locations do not include Los Angeles, Portland, or Seattle.

Press Release [PDF] | SF Opera at the Movies | Schedule

Manon Lescaut Live in HD Met Simulcast

MetmanonI am going to skip out on tomorrow's Live in HD Met Simulcast of Manon Lescaut, as there is quite enough of Puccini in my future. It is tempting, as the cast looks good. I heard Mattila sing the title role several times in 2006, and that production was one of the best that season. Marcello Giordani will sing Des Grieux, I found his voice somewhat strained the only time I heard him in Simon Boccanegra, but certainly many complimentary words have been written about him as well. Dale Travis will be Geronte, Dwayne Croft sings Lescaut, and Sean Panikkar has the small part of Edmondo, as he did in San Francisco as an Adler Fellow. The performance at the Met is sold-out.

Cast [PDF] | Live in HD Official Site | Participating Theaters on the West Coast | Washington Post Review

Macbeth Live in HD Met Simulcast

Metmacbeth* Notes *
The Met's simulcast of Macbeth aired today. The production, by Adrian Noble, is new to the Met and opened October 22, 2007. Set after World War II, Mark Thompson's set and costumes are dark, lots of black, grey, olive, khaki. There were many leather jackets and machine guns, Banquo, for example, seemed to be dressed as Rambo for most of Act I. The witches were based on Diane Arbus, each witch wore some sort of hat and smeared lipstick. The purses of the witches were much too loud in Act I, it sounded like coins were dropping on the stage. There were a few supernumeraries used in this group, including three female children. A low point of the opera was the beginning of Act III, when a witches brew was created from little girl vomit, the three had to eat bread and spit it out in an over-sized chalice. I never imagined I would see simulated bulimia onstage at the Met. Sue Lefton's choreography was a little vulgar for the witches, a lot of hip thrusts and such, though when the witches set out chairs for Lady Macbeth to walk on just before she sings in her mad scene worked well.

The cast was impressive, everyone sang at a high level. Baritone Željko Lučić was a fine Macbeth, with much emotional range, going from mournful, to afraid, to defiantly angry with ease. Maria Guleghina was incredible as Lady Macbeth, her voice sounded almost angelic at times, but also could be crystalline and downright frightening. She had good control of her vibrato, for the most part, though she did have a tendency to have an occasional wobbling gasp, especially at the beginning of the brindisi in Act II. Dimitri Pittas (Macduff) sounded a little reedy to me at first, but he was incredible in his Act IV aria, singing well and even shedding tears. He was somewhat difficult to hear over the movements of the chorus and the playing of the orchestra toward the end of the opera. Bass-baritone John Relyea also had a few inaudible moments after the discovery of Duncan's body, but sang his Act II aria "Come dal ciel precipita" quite beautifully. I was most moved by the choral parts at the end of Act II and IV, everyone sounded together and James Levine had the orchestra well in hand.

I do find the May performances of Macbeth tempting, for René Pape will be singing Banquo, and Joseph Calleja sings Macduff. As for the lead roles, I have never heard baritone Carlos Alvarez, but I do avoid Andrea Gruber, whom I find grating. It might be fine, given that Lady Macbeth is supposed to be unpleasant to the ear. 

* Tattling *
The line to enter the Century San Francisco Centre 9 formed before 9:30 am, and Theater 4 was pretty full. Lado Ataneli was listed online as Macbeth today, and his name also appeared on the program I was given at the theater. Apparently he took ill, and Lucic replaced him. The picture at this theater was clearer than at Bay Street, though I did get a headache by the second half. The image did go fuzzy or slowed down at least four times, once in the first chorus, another during "Mi si affaccia un pugnal," once again in "Ah, la paterna mano," and a last time at the last scene. These were minor, more unfortunate were the disturbances in sound, one lasted half a second near the end of Banquo's last aria, the other was during Macbeth's "Pietà, rispetto, amore," in which we were treated to three brief but loud sounds. A shame, considering these are two great moments of the opera. They also did not cut the sound from backstage fast enough for the beginning of Act IV, and we could hear stage directions with the orchestra.

The host today was Peter Gelb himself, the General Director of the Met. He gave a brief interview of James Levine just before the conductor went out to the orchestra pit. The cameras moved around quite a bit, and I was better able to appreciate this by sitting a bit further back this time. It gave me a headache, but for the most part it wasn't too bad. The worst was when Banquo's ghost appeared, it was difficult to make sense of how he appeared or what exactly was going on, because there were so many close-ups. Again, I would have preferred not to see the young supernumeraries regurgitate bread up close or see John Relyea's fillings. I did enjoy Mary Jo Heath's interviewing the two leads at the beginning of intermission. Lučić told us he is a Verdi fan, and Guleghina stated "I am becoming crazy" of her character, not herself.

Washington State Met Live in HD Theaters 2007-2008

Regal Auburn Stadium 17
1101 Super Mall Way, Suite 901
Auburn, WA 98001

Cinemark Century Federal Way
2001 S. Commons
Federal Way, WA 98003

Regal Alderwood Stadium 7
3501 184th Street SW
Lynnwood, WA 98037

Cinemark Century Olympia
625 Black Lake Blvd. SW
Olympia, WA 98512

The Rose Theatre
235 Taylor Street
Port Townsend, WA 98368

Regal Bella Botega 11 Cinema
8890 NE 161st Avenue
Redmond, WA 98052

AMC Pacific Place 11
600 Pine Street, Ste. 400
Seattle, WA 98101

Regal Northtown Mall 12
4750 North Division Street
Spokane, WA 99207

Southern California Met Live in HD Theaters 2007-2008


It is a bit odd that there are no locations in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, or Imperial counties. I suppose for Santa Barbara, Ventura is only about half an hour away. But El Centro (the county seat of Imperial County) is 114 miles from San Diego. If one lives in San Luis Obispo one could go all the way to Bakersfield (122.2 miles, 2 hours 37 minutes) or Ventura (132.8 miles, 2 hours 48 minutes). Since most of the performances start at 10 in the morning, it means one would have to be up somewhat early for a Saturday.

Ventura County:
Cinemark Century Stadium 16
2875 Elba Street
Ventura, CA 93001

Los Angeles County:
Regal Edwards Renaissance Stadium 14
One East Main Street
Alhambra, CA 91801

AMC Burbank 16
125 East Palm Ave
Burbank, CA 91502

National Amusements The Bridge
6081 Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90045

The Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre
3507 Trousdale Pkwy.
Los Angeles, CA 90089

Cinemark 22
2600 West Avenue I
Lancaster, CA 93534

Cinemark Antelope Valley Mall
1475 West Avenue P
Palmdale, CA 93551

Regal Edwards Valencia 12
24435 Town Center Drive
Santa Clarita, CA 91355

AMC Promenade 16
21801 Oxnard Street
Woodland Hills, CA 91367

San Bernardino County:
AMC Ontario Mills 30
4549 Mills Circle
Ontario, CA 91764

Cinemark 16 Victorville
14470 Bear Valley Road
Victorville, CA 92392

Orange County:
Cinemark Century 20 Bella Terra in Huntington Beach
7777 Edinger Avenue
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Regal Edwards Irvine Spectrum 21 & IMAX
65 Fortune Drive
Irvine, CA 92618

Cinemark Century Stadium 25
1701 W. Katella Avenue
Orange, CA 92868

AMC 30 at The Block
20 City Blvd. West, Bldg. E
Orange, CA 91764

Riverside County:
Cinemark Century Theatres at The River
71800 Highway 111
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

San Diego County:
AMC La Jolla Village 12
8657 Villa La Jolla Drive
La Jolla, CA 92037

Regal UA Horton Plaza 14
475 Horton Plaza
San Diego, CA 92101

Regal Edwards Mira Mesa Stadium 18 & IMAX
10733 Westview Parkway
San Diego, CA 92126

AMC Mission Valley 20
1640 Camino Del Rio, North
San Diego, CA 92108

California Central Valley Met Live in HD Theaters 2007-2008


There are a mere nine locations for those who live in the Central Valley of California to watch and hear the Met Opera - Live in HD performances. The Sacramento Metropolitan area is well covered, which makes sense given that it is the most highly populated in the Central Valley. Fresno and Bakersfield have one theater each, and Stockton and Modesto are reasonably close to Tracy, which is a rather smaller city than either of those two. But if one happens to live in Visalia, the nearest location is 45.78 miles north in Fresno. The nearest location to Merced is also Fresno, 49.41 miles south.

North Sacramento Valley:
Cinemark Chico
801 East Avenue
Chico, CA 95926

Cinemark Movies 10
980 Old Alturas Road
Redding, CA 96003

Sacramento Metro:
Cinemark Roseville 14
1555 Eureka Road
Roseville, CA 95661

Cinemark Downtown Plaza
445 Downtown Plaza
Sacramento, CA 95814

Regal Natomas Marketplace Stadium 16
3561 Truxel Road
Sacramento, CA 95834

Cinemark Sacramento Stadium 14
1590 Ethan Way
Sacramento, CA 95825

North San Joaquin:
Cinemark Movies 14
3300 N. Naglee Road
Tracy, CA 95376

South San Joaquin:
Regal Bakersfield Stadium 14
9000 Ming Avenue, Suite G
Bakersfield, CA 93307

Regal Fresno Stadium 22 & IMAX
250 Paseo del Centro
Fresno, CA 93720

Bay Area Met Live in HD Theaters 2007-2008

San Francisco:
Cinemark Century San Francisco Centre 9
835 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

North Bay:
The Lark Theater
549 Magnolia Avenue
Larkspur, CA 94939

Cinemark Century Northgate 15
7000 Northgate Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903

Rialto Cinemas Lakeside
551 Summerfield Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95405

The Peninsula:
Cinemark Century 20 Daly City
1901 Junipero Serra Blvd.
Daly City, CA 94015

Cinemark Century 20 Downtown Redwood City
825 Middlefield Road
Redwood City, CA 94063

Cinemark Century 12 Downtown San Mateo
320 East 2nd Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94401

East Bay:
Regal Hacienda Crossings Stadium 21 & IMAX
5000 Dublin Blvd
Dublin, CA 94568

AMC Bay Street 16
5614 Bay Street  Ste 220
Emeryville, CA 94608

Cinemark Century 16 Downtown Pleasant Hill
125 Crescent Drive
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

Cinemark Century 25 Union City
32100 Union Landing
Union City, CA 94587

Cinemark Century 14 Downtown Walnut Creek
1201 Locust Street
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

South Bay:
Cinemark Century 20 Great Mall
1010 Great Mall Drive
Milpitas, CA 95035

Cinemark Century Cinemas 16
1500 N. Shoreline Blvd.
Mountain View, CA 94043

Cinemark CinéArts at Santana Row
3088 Olsen Drive
San Jose, CA 95128

AMC Eastridge 15
2190 Eastridge Loop
San Jose, CA 95122

Cinemark Century 20 Oakridge
925 Blossom Hill Road
San Jose, CA 95123

Cinemark Century Cinemas at Del Monte Center
1700 Del Monte Center
Monterey, CA 93940

Hansel and Gretel Live in HD Met Simulcast

Hansel and Gretel by Rackham* Notes *
The Met's simulcast of Hansel and Gretel aired today. The production, by Richard Jones, is new to the Met and opened on Christmas Eve. Created for
Welsh National Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago, the staging is rather dark. Act I is nearly all grey, Act II takes place in an oppressive green room meant to be the woods, and Act III has much grey again, though the sweets do add some color. Though many of the costumes look like Tracht, for the most part this is not a storybook come to life, but has a more contemporary and surrealistic aesthetic. The dream sequence in Act II is especially amusing, featuring many chefs and an attendant with a fish head. There are a few weaknesses in the staging, it was a bit odd when Hansel and Gretel smear berries on themselves in Act II, considering that they are supposedly starving. Parts of Act III made little sense, as there is no house, gingerbread or otherwise, representing the Witch's abode. When Hansel and Gretel sing about the tempting house, and they eat from a large cake on top of an enormous tongue sticking out of a mouth painted on a scrim.

Conductor Vladimir Jurowski kept things going at a good pace, though the orchestra and singers (Rosalind Plowright and Alan Held as Gertrude and Peter, the parents) were slightly off near the end of Act I. Christine Schäfer had some shrill notes in the beginning as Gretel, but sounded fine once warmed up. I had her pegged as a German from the start, her open-mid front unrounded vowel in "black" and "cap" gave her away. This was, obviously, quite minor, she was perfectly understandable. Alice Coote sounded and looked convincing as Hansel. Philip Landridge was wonderful as the Witch. I was most surprised by Sasha Cooke as the Sandman, her voice was clear and tender.

* Tattling *
Theater 12 at the AMC Bay Street 16 was mostly full, though not sold-out. The image was not clear from the third row, the edges of light objects were not smooth and seemed to move. The effect was strangely watery. The sound was good from this location, though I heard other patrons who had been in the back heard echoes. The image did go fuzzy at one point in Act III, and the sound also was disturbed once after that, both incidences occurred when the Witch was singing.

Renée Fleming hosted the simulcast, she made us aware that there would be some shots from backstage during the overture, she spoke to the lead singers at intermission, and so forth. The simulcast had many close-ups, and one could see the performance in a way one could never experience it at the opera house itself. One could appreciate many details that could not be seen from afar. Most of the time, this was great, but I would have rather not seen Rosalind Plowright spit out her food quite so vividly in Act I. One was even able to see Alice Coote's fillings in Act III.

The Met Opera - Live in HD 2007-2008

The Met's first simulcast of the season, Roméo et Juliette, showed on 477 screens in the United States, and 100 screens abroad, selling around 97,000 tickets. The season is as follows:

Roméo et Juliette
December 15, 2007 (10:00 am – 1:30 pm PST)

Hansel and Gretel
January 1, 2008 (10:00 am – 12:35 pm PST)

January 12, 2008 (10:30 am – 1:50 pm PST)

Manon Lescaut
February 16, 2008 (10:00 am – 1:41 pm PST)

Peter Grimes
March 15, 2008 (10:30 am – 2:15 pm PDT)

Tristan und Isolde
March 22, 2008 (9:30 am – 3:05 pm PDT)

La Bohème
April 5, 2008 (10:30 am – 1:50 pm PDT)

La Fille du Régiment
Saturday, April 26, 2008 (10:30 am – 1:40 pm PDT)

Here is a list of participating cinemas in the United States. In the Bay Area, the South Bay seems to have the most theaters involved in this.

In the United States, one can purchase tickets online via Fathom Events by choosing the performance from the drop-down menu under the header labeled "Event Search," and then typing one's zipcode in the form that appears on the right column labeled "Find Theatres." The results page redirects the user to either Fandago,, or some other third party site depending on the cinema. There are surcharges, so the $22 ticket is actually $23-25.50, and is more expensive than standing room at the Met ($20).

As far as I could tell most of the cinemas outside the United States have some similar method of purchasing tickets online, the exceptions being the Czech Republic and Puerto Rico (the Met considers the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico an International Location). I believe I was able to navigate Cine Magnum well enough to reserve tickets for a theatre in Thuringia.

SF Opera Cinemacasts

Following the Met's lead, San Francisco Opera and The Bigger Picture announced an agreement to bringing opera to movie theaters. Appomattox, Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni, La Rondine, Madama Butterfly, and Samson et Dalila will be shown four times each, beginning in March 2008. All of these offerings have already been recorded in the last year, so none of them will be simulcasts.

Press Release [PDF] | San Francisco Opera | The Bigger Picture | Schedule

The Met Simulcasts

Simulcasts seem to be all the rage now. San Francisco Opera had one of Madama Butterfly last summer, and one of Rigoletto in October. The Met debuted their simulcast program with an English version of Die Zauberflöte in about 150 movie theatres around the world on December 30, 2006. I Puritani will be simulcast this weekend, followed by The First Emperor next weekend. Eugene Onegin, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Il Trittico will be broadcast in February, March, and April respectively.

I find it terribly entertaining that the theatre nearest me is in loathsome Emeryville. This former Superfund site notable for its IKEA and pedestrian unfriendliness.

Chronicle Article | Met HD Broadcast Web Site | Met Press Release