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Movies Go to the Opera

Movies Go to the Opera

Thompson on Hollywood

Opera buff alert! You don’t have to spend a small fortune anymore to see live opera. These days, the Metropolitan Opera is delivering its shows live in HD in digital cinemas around the country. This way, instead of sitting in the rafters with binoculars, you can relish in close-up the visual and aural wealth of the hefty sets, costumes, singers and orchestras.

While many of Emerging Pictures‘ indie releases can be hit or miss, the digital distrib can depend on the growing, passionate fan base for operas every year. Emerging is releasing international operas on about 80 digital screens, one or two operas each month (usually weekday nights and weekend matinees) during opera season. Depending on your local venue, it costs about 20 bucks. The series tends to do best in cities where cross-promotions are possible with a resident opera company, like New York, Los Angeles, and Cleveland.

The Opera in Cinema season kicks off with the movie La Bohème starring Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón and continues with the Salzburg Festival’s Così fan Tutte by Mozart; Wagner’s Die Walküre performed at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia; Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo from La Scala; Bizet’s Carmen, also from La Scala; and Verdi’s Il Trovatore from the Gran Teatre del Liceu.

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J. Sperling Reich

As someone who works in motion picture exhibition, I can relay that the industry has really jumped on the opera bandwagon.

What theatre owners like about alternative content, as it is known in the biz, is that they can often charge a higher ticket price (between $20 and $30) and such showings usually attract a higher number of visitors than during the same time frame without a special screening. Note how a lot of these operas get shown on weekend mornings and afternoons as well as Tuesday or Wednesday nights. Another benefit for theatre owners in screening opera performances is that they bring patrons into movie theatres that may not have been there for years, if not decades. It has been reported that once such patrons attend an opera screening a high percentage of them return to see a film.

By far opera is the poster child for alternative content in movie theatres and has been the most successful non-film program to date for most theatre chains. We often cover this on Celluloid Junkie. You can visit this URL for a more a detailed story on opera at the movies:

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