Two years ago some friends of ours suggested that my wife and I attend one of the New York Met Simulcasts , and now I am an extreme opera fan. Purist friends of mine claim that these simulcasts cannot compare with being at a live production, but maybe there is an analogy between being at a live football game and watching one televised with high definition onto a huge screen with outstanding sound, except met simulcasts are not interrupted by commercials, action is continuous, and the camera work and sound are to my mind far superior to those bringing you football games. Also, the subtitles are superior to haranguing football announcers, and the behind the scenes interviews and insights into the productions are wonderful. There is something to be said for live events, but also a great deal to be said for these simulcasts.
To mention a few related advantages, the theater where we watch these is only a couple miles from our home, parking is plentiful and free a hundred feet from the entrance, seats are large and comfortable with immense leg room and arms with cup holders, everything from popcorn to ice cream and coffee are available in the lobby, and extreme informality in clothing is welcomed. Finally, tickets are $20 or so. In my personal opinion these productions are much superior to the cheap seats at live performances.
What have I learned? Opera performers are incredible actors if watched up close, modern technology and huge screens do justice to the productions, and the subtitles and information that are available at the productions make operas easy to follow. I am now most fond of Wagner’s Ring cycle, and I now like sopranos. Finally, the productions do an excellent job of humanizing the performers and give insight into the impressive staging required.
To me, these simulcast performances are a use of technology I have difficulty criticizing (a unique experience for me). I often curse my computer, sometimes my car and leaky toilets, and always automobile traffic, but never these performances. To me they are miracles worth far more than $20, and I cry when the hero/heroine dies—which is usually.