by John Silver
High-definition broadcasts of live opera from the stage of New York’s Metropolitan Opera have come to Powell River in the outstanding facilities of Max Cameron Theatre at Brooks School. Approximately 120 opera fans saw the first broadcast, Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, on Saturday, December 15 at 10:00 am.Anna Netrebko (Juliette) and Roberto Alagna (Roméo) were in fine voice as they headed a uniformly strong cast. Renowned tenor Plácido Domingo was the conductor. Sets and costumes were stunning. Watching a live performance on screen is a different experience from being in the opera house itself. You see only what the video director shows you but, with an expert such as Brian Large at the helm, there is a superb balance of close-ups of the singers and overall stage action. Adding to the experience are views of backstage while sets are changed between scenes and performers chat to each other or quietly ponder their next appearance. During the intermissions, the broadcast continues by interviewing the stars just as they have come off-stage and others involved in the technicalities of the production. For those in need of refreshments at intermission, coffee and goodies are served by students of Brooks School, with proceeds going to school projects. Since the broadcasts are live matinees in New York, this means morning in Powell River. Even if you normally like to stay in bed on a Saturday morning, I recommend breaking that habit to give the Metropolitan Opera a try. Future performances are Macbeth (February 9), Manon Lescaut (February 16), Peter Grimes (March 15), Tristan und Isolde (March 22), La fille du régiment (April 26) and La Bohème (May 3).