‘The Met’ comes to Aspen
December 11, 2009
ASPEN – Like a lot of local opera buffs, Alan Fletcher, the president of the Aspen Music Festival and School, has not seen “The Met: Live in HD,” the series of broadcasts from New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Like many classical music fans in Aspen, Fletcher has been holding his breath, waiting to see the acclaimed program that has been warmly received in theaters around the world. And like the rest of the valley’s opera fans, Fletcher is beginning to exhale.
The Aspen Music Festival announced Thursday that it will present a four-part “The Met: Live in HD” series in Aspen beginning in January. The broadcasts will be at the Wheeler Opera House, and will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 – with series subscriptions available for $75 – and go on sale to the public on Friday, Dec. 18.
The Aspen series opens Jan. 27 with Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier,” featuring Renee Fleming, an Aspen Music School alumna, and Susan Graham. Following are Bizet’s “Carmen” on Feb. 24; Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra,” starring Placido Domingo, on March 3; and Verdi’s “Aida” on March 17. ” Der Rosenkavalier” and “Simon Boccanegra” are conducted by Metropolitan Opera Music Director James Levine, another former Aspen Music School student.
While Fletcher will have to wait a month and a half to see his first “Met” broadcast, he has been tracking the public response since the program began three years ago. It has since spread to more than 900 theaters in 42 countries.
“Delirious, I would say,” Fletcher said of the overall response to the program, which has won Peabody and Emmy Awards. “In terms of the camera angles, the engineering, it’s extremely well done. Everybody who has seen it says it’s gorgeously done.”
Fletcher has been trying to bring the broadcasts to Aspen since they were introduced. But he said the rules were strict in the beginning: Presenters had to commit to the entire series, and had to show them live, at 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays – a time that didn’t work well in the winter for ski-minded Aspenites. Plus, the Wheeler, which was already equipped to handle the broadcast technology, would not have been entirely available. But the Met has since relaxed its rules. The Aspen Music Festival was able to handpick the four productions it is presenting; it went for ” Der Rosenkavalier,” “Carmen” and “Aida” for their popularity, and “Simon Boccanegra” for the popularity of its star, Domingo.
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Fletcher noted that several prominent opera companies, including Covent Garden in London, La Scala in Milan, and the San Francisco Opera, have imitated “The Met” on a smaller scale.