Metropolitan Opera Live in HD
Metropolitan Opera Live in HD (also known as The Met: Live in HD) is a series of live opera performances transmitted in high-definition video via satellite from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City to select venues, primarily movie theaters, in the United States and other parts of the world. The first transmission was of a condensed English-language version of Mozart's The Magic Flute on December 30, 2006.
To transmit the series via satellite simulcast in the US and Canada, the Met has partnered with NCM Fathom, a division of National CineMedia. The series is broadcast to AMC Theatres, Cinemark, Cineplex Entertainment, Regal Entertainment Group (Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards), Goodrich, Kerasotes, Marcus and National Amusements movie theaters as well as a series of independent venues such as arts centres and college campuses. Its aims include building a larger audience for the Met and garnering excitement for arts at a local level.
The original idea for presenting operas in this way came from the new incoming general manager of the Met, Peter Gelb in late 2006. Exhibiting the Met's performances in digital movie theaters is in line with other audience-expanding efforts by the Met such as radio broadcasts on Sirius Radio, iPod downloads, live streaming video on the Met website, and free opening night screenings in Times Square and at Lincoln Center. The Met is also sponsoring free HD broadcasts into selected New York City public schools.
The simulcasts allow more people to experience the excitement of the Met's high-quality performance offerings. This audience includes current opera fans unable to get to New York City to see the shows in person and potential opera fans looking for an easy, affordable method of checking out a new art form.
Tom Galley, chief operations and technology officer of National CineMedia, describes the experience by saying:
This Metropolitan Opera series is a unique opportunity for people to experience world-class opera in their local community, plus the movie theatre environment and affordable ticket price make these events something that the entire family can enjoy. If you’ve never had the pleasure of attending a live opera performance before, this is the perfect opportunity to see why this magical art form has captured audiences’ imaginations for generations.
In the US, the series has also been broadcast in both high definition and regular TV as part of the Public Broadcasting Service's Great Performances series. In addition, selected performances can now be viewed online.
The first season included seven theatres in Britain, two in Japan and one in Norway. After its successful launch, several other countries joined for the second season and 100 screens were added, selling an additional 20,000 tickets. These included cinemas in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
2008 saw the network expand even further to include more screens in the countries named above plus other countries such as Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Argentina (Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata), and Poland, as well as the territory of Puerto Rico.
Reaction in the British press has been positive:
...opera is, in fact, managing to find new audiences, all over the world. Down at the Ritzy, my local cinema in Brixton, London, I've been able, since December, to see live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera in New York...
The author Peter Conrad, praised Gelb's showmanship:
The relays are the brainchild of the Met's new general manager, Peter Gelb, or one of his innumerable brainchildren, part of a campaign both to rejuvenate the Met's audience in New York and to welcome what he calls 'the global opera community' into the fold. When I met Gelb in New York last week, I told him I'd decided that seeing The Barber in Clapham (just south of central London) was actually better than being at the Met. 'Oh no, that's bad,' he groaned. 'We must be doing too good a job.
As of 2011[update] six Metropolitan Opera employees work full-time on Live in HD. About 40 people work on the technical aspects of each broadcast, with one comparing the scale of the logistics to the preshow coverage of the Emmy or Academy Awards. Host Renée Fleming volunteers her services. No same-day substitution of a major cast member for a Live in HD performance was necessary until January 2010, perhaps because of the appeal of performing for a worldwide audience and the opportunity to appear on the subsequent DVD of the broadcast.
Movie and radio broadcast revenue increased for the Met from about $5 million in 2006, Live in HD's first year, to $22 million in 2008, with Live in HD contributing the bulk of the growth. For the 2009-2010 season, the Met spent about $12 million in production and received about half of the $47 million box-office gross. After paying royalties to its cast and crew, the Met earned a $8 million profit. The Met's Live in HD revenue for the 2012-2013 season was $34.5 million.
According to a 2008 study commissioned by Opera America, most Live in HD attendees were "moderate and frequent opera goers". About one in five, however, did not attend a live opera performance in the previous two years, with some being completely new to opera and attending because of curiosity about it. The majority claimed to equally enjoy broadcast and live opera, and more than half stated they would "very likely" attend an opera performance at the Met if visiting New York. A 2011 University of British Columbia thesis found that "Live in HD does not at present cannibalize the local live opera audience ... [but t]here is no evidence that [it] generates more live opera attendance or brings new audiences into local opera houses".
A report outlines the economics of the Met's 2013—2014 season:
- Last season, 10 operas were transmitted via satellite into at least 2,000 theaters in 66 countries, including more than 800 U.S. theaters. Box office hit $60 million worldwide (average ticket prices were $23 last season), with theater owners splitting sales 50-50 with the Met (insiders say the split is more advantageous to the Met in North America) and Fathom [the online ticket-selling agency] taking a small percentage as well. 
Beginning on December 30, 2006, as part of the company's effort to build revenues and attract new audiences, the Met broadcast a series of six performances live via satellite into movie theaters.
The series was carried in over 100 movie theaters across North America plus others in Britain, Japan and one in Norway.
During this season, the series included:
- Julie Taymor's production of Mozart's The Magic Flute, on December 30, 2006, in an abridged English version conducted by James Levine and starring Ying Huang as Pamina, Matthew Polenzani as Tamino, and Nathan Gunn as Papageno.
- Bellini's I puritani, on January 6, 2007, starring Anna Netrebko, Eric Cutler and Franco Vassallo in the roles of Elvira, Arturo and Riccardo, in the 1976 Sandro Sequi production conducted by Patrick Summers.
- The world premiere of Tan Dun's The First Emperor, on January 13, 2007, with Plácido Domingo in the title role of Emperor Qin in a production by Zhan Yimou and conducted by Dun himself.
- Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, on February 24, 2007, starring Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Renée Fleming and Ramón Vargas in the roles of Onegin, Tatiana and Lensky in Robert Carsen's simple but beautiful production conducted by Valery Gergiev.
- Rossini'sThe Barber of Seville, on March 24, 2007, in the new hit production by Bartlett Sher, with Peter Mattei, Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez as Figaro, Rosina and Almaviva, and conducted by Maurizio Benini.
- Puccini's Il trittico, on April 28, 2007, in another new hit production, this time by Jack O'Brien and conducted by James Levine. Maria Guleghina, Salvatore Licitra and Juan Pons, in the roles of Giorgetta, Luigi and Michele, sang in Il tabarro, Barbara Frittoli starred in the title role of Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi was played by Alessandro Corbelli with Olga Mykytenko and Massimo Giordano in the roles of Lauretta and Rinuccio. Stephanie Blythe starred in all three operas, singing the roles of Frugola, the Princess and Zita.
In addition, limited repeat showings of the operas were offered in most of the presenting cities. Within the US, digital sound for the performances was provided by Sirius Satellite Radio.
These movie transmissions were successful at the box office as well as having received wide and generally favorable press coverage. The Met reports that 91% of available seats were sold for the HD performances. According to General Manager Peter Gelb, there were 60,000 people in cinemas around the world watching the March 24 transmission of The Barber of Seville. The New York Times reported that 324,000 tickets were sold worldwide for the 2006–07 season, while each simulcast cost $850,000 to $1 million to produce.
Due to the success of the first season, the Metropolitan Opera decided to increase the number of HD broadcasts to movie theaters from six to eight during the 2007–2008 season. Further, the number of available theaters expanded to 330 across the US and additional countries throughout the world.
The first showing on December 15, 2007, Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, was seen on 477 screens and sold an estimated 97,000 tickets. The series continued by featuring seven more of the Met's productions following Roméo et Juliette and ending with La fille du régiment on April 26, 2008.
The Met planned to broadcast to double the number of theaters in the US compared with the previous season, as well as to additional countries. The number of participating venues in the US, which includes movie theatre chains as well as independent theatres and some college campus venues, was 343. While "the scope of the series expands to include more than 700 locations across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.... The Met has said that it hopes to reach as many as one million audience members with this season's HD transmissions"
The schedule of live broadcasts included:
- Roméo et Juliette (Anna Netrebko, Roberto Alagna, Nathan Gunn, conducted by Plácido Domingo)
- Hansel and Gretel (Christine Schäfer, Alice Coote, Philip Langridge, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski)
- Macbeth (Zeljko Lucic, Maria Guleghina, John Relyea, conducted by James Levine)
- Manon Lescaut (Karita Mattila, Marcello Giordani, Dwayne Croft, conducted by James Levine)
- Peter Grimes (Anthony Dean Griffey, Patricia Racette, Felicity Palmer, conducted by Donald Runnicles)
- Tristan und Isolde (Deborah Voigt, Robert Dean Smith, Matti Salminen, conducted by James Levine)
- La bohème (Ramon Vargas, Angela Gheorghiu, Ludovic Tezier, conducted by Nicola Luisotti)
- La fille du régiment (Natalie Dessay, Juan Diego Flórez, Alessandro Corbelli, conducted by Marco Armiliato)
By the end of the season, 920,000 people—exceeding the total number of people who attended live performances at the Met over the entire season—attended the 8 screenings bringing in a gross of $13.3 million from North America and $5 million from overseas.
The HD season for 2008–2009 included 11 productions, including the Opening Night Gala on September 22, 2008, (broadcast in North America only).
- Opening Night Gala (Excerpts from La Traviata, Manon and Capriccio, staring Renée Fleming
- Salome (Karita Mattila, Kim Begley, Juha Uusitalo, conducted by Patrick Summers)
- Doctor Atomic (Gerald Finley, Eric Owens, Sasha Cooke, conducted by Alan Gilbert)
- La Damnation de Faust (Marcello Giordani, Susan Graham, John Relyea, conducted by James Levine)
- Thaïs (Renée Fleming, Thomas Hampson, Michael Schade, conducted by Jesús López-Cobos)
- La rondine (Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna, Samuel Ramey, conducted by Marco Armiliato)
- Orfeo ed Euridice (Stephanie Blythe, Danielle de Niese, Heidi Grant Murphy, conducted by James Levine
- Lucia di Lammermoor (Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczala, Mariusz Kwiecien, conducted by Marco Armiliato)
- Madama Butterfly (Patricia Racette, Marcello Giordani, Dwayne Croft, conducted by Patrick Summers)
- La sonnambula (Natalie Dessay, Juan Diego Flórez, Michele Pertusi, conducted by Evelino Pidò)
- La Cenerentola (Elina Garanca, Lawrence Brownlee, Alessandro Corbelli, conducted by Maurizio Benini)
As of February 2009, over 1.1 million tickets to HD broadcasts had been sold.
- Tosca (Karita Mattila, Marcelo Álvarez, George Gagnidze, conducted by Joseph Colaneri)
- Aida (Violeta Urmana, Dolora Zajick, Johan Botha, conducted by Daniele Gatti)
- Turandot (Maria Guleghina, Marcello Giordani, Marina Poplavskaya, Samuel Ramey, conducted by Andris Nelsons
- Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Joseph Calleja, Anna Netrebko, Kate Lindsey, Alan Held, conducted by James Levine)
- Der Rosenkavalier (Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Kristinn Sigmundsson, conducted by Edo de Waart)
- Carmen (Elina Garanca, Roberto Alagna, Barbara Frittoli, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin)
- Simon Boccanegra (Plácido Domingo, James Morris, Adrianne Pieczonka, conducted by James Levine)
- Hamlet (Simon Keenlyside, James Morris, Marlis Petersen, conducted by Louis Langrée
- Armida (Renée Fleming, Lawrence Brownlee, John Osborn, conducted by Riccardo Frizza
- Das Rheingold (Bryn Terfel, Eric Owens, Stephanie Blythe, Richard Croft, conducted by James Levine)
- Boris Godunov (René Pape, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Ekaterina Semenchuk, conducted by Valery Gergiev)
- Don Pasquale (Anna Netrebko, John Del Carlo, Mariusz Kwiecien, Matthew Polenzani, conducted by James Levine)
- Don Carlo (Roberto Alagna, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Marina Poplavskaya, Simon Keenlyside, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin)
- La fanciulla del West (Deborah Voigt, Marcello Giordani, Lucio Gallo, conducted by Nicola Luisotti)
- Nixon in China (James Maddalena, Janis Kelly, Kathleen Kim, conducted by John Adams
- Iphigénie en Tauride (Susan Graham, Plácido Domingo, Paul Groves, conducted by Patrick Summers)
- Lucia di Lammermoor (Natalie Dessay, Joseph Calleja, Ludovic Tézier, conducted by Patrick Summers)
- Le comte Ory (Juan Diego Flórez, Joyce DiDonato, Diana Damrau, conducted by Maurizio Benini)
- Capriccio (Renée Fleming, Joseph Kaiser, Russell Braun, conducted by Andrew Davis)
- Il trovatore (Sondra Radvanovsky, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Marcelo Álvarez, Dolora Zajick conducted by Marco Armiliato)
- Die Walküre (Deborah Voigt, Jonas Kaufmann, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Bryn Terfel, conducted by James Levine)
- Anna Bolena (Anna Netrebko, Ekaterina Gubanova, Ildar Abdrazakov, conducted by Marco Armiliato)
- Don Giovanni (Mariusz Kwiecien, Marina Rebeka, Luca Pisaroni, conducted by Fabio Luisi)
- Siegfried (Jay Hunter Morris, Bryn Terfel, Deborah Voigt, conducted by Fabio Luisi)
- Satyagraha (Richard Croft, Maria Zifchak, Rachelle Durkin, conducted by Dante Anzolini)
- Rodelinda (Renée Fleming, Andreas Scholl, Stephanie Blythe, conducted by Harry Bicket
- Faust (Jonas Kaufmann, René Pape, Marina Poplavskaya, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin)
- The Enchanted Island (David Daniels, Joyce DiDonato, Danielle De Niese, Plácido Domingo, conducted by William Christie)
- Götterdämmerung (Deborah Voigt, Jay Hunter Morris, Waltraud Meier, conducted by Fabio Luisi)
- Ernani (Angela Meade, Marcello Giordani, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Ferruccio Furlanetto, conducted by Marco Armiliato)
- Manon (Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczala, Paulo Szot, conducted by Fabio Luisi)
- La traviata (Natalie Dessay, Matthew Polenzani, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Fabio Luisi)
- L'elisir d'amore (Anna Netrebko, Matthew Polenzani, Mariusz Kwiecien, Ambrogio Maestri, conducted by Maurizio Benini)
- Otello (Johan Botha, Renée Fleming, Falk Struckmann, conducted by Semyon Bychkov)
- The Tempest (Simon Keenlyside, Isabel Leonard, Audrey Luna, conducted by Thomas Adès)
- La clemenza di Tito (Elina Garanca, Barbara Frittoli, Giuseppe Filianoti, conducted by Harry Bicket)
- Un ballo in maschera (Marcelo Álvarez, Sondra Radvanovsky, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Fabio Luisi)
- Aida (Liudmyla Monastyrska, Roberto Alagna, Olga Borodina, conducted by Fabio Luisi
- Les Troyens (Bryan Hymel, Susan Graham, Deborah Voigt, conducted by Fabio Luisi)
- Maria Stuarda (Joyce DiDonato, Elza van den Heever, Matthew Polenzani, conducted by Maurizio Benini
- Rigoletto (Zeljko Lucic, Diana Damrau, Piotr Beczala, conducted by Michele Mariotti
- Parsifal (Jonas Kaufmann, René Pape, Peter Mattei, Katarina Dalayman, conducted by Daniele Gatti
- Francesca da Rimini (Eva-Maria Westbroek, Marcello Giordani, Mark Delavan, conducted by Marco Armiliato
- Giulio Cesare (Natalie Dessay, David Daniels, Alice Coote, conducted by Harry Bicket)
- Eugene Onegin (Anna Netrebko, Mariusz Kwiecien, Piotr Beczala, conducted by Valery Gergiev)
- The Nose (Paulo Szot, Andrey Popov, Alexander Lewis, conducted by Pavel Smelkov)
- Tosca (Patricia Racette, Roberto Alagna, George Gagnidze, conducted by Riccardo Frizza)
- Falstaff (Ambrogio Maestri, Angela Meade, Stephanie Blythe conducted by James Levine)
- Rusalka (Renée Fleming, Dolora Zajick, Piotr Beczala, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin)
- Prince Igor (Ildar Abdrazakov, Oksana Dyka, Anita Rachvelishvili, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda)
- Werther (Jonas Kaufmann, Sophie Koch, Lisette Oropesa, conducted by Alain Altinoglu)
- La bohème (Kristine Opolais, Vittorio Grigolo, Susanna Phillips, conducted by Stefano Ranzani)
- Così fan tutte (Susanna Phillips, Danielle De Niese, Matthew Polenzani, conducted by James Levine)
- La Cenerentola (Joyce DiDonato, Juan Diego Flórez, Luca Pisaroni, conducted by Fabio Luisi)
The 2014–2015 season presented 12 operas in 10 HD transmissions, including (for the first time in the series) two "double-bills" where two short operas were staged together on the same program. John Adams's Death of Klinghoffer was originally planned for an HD transmission but was replaced by Il barbiere di Siviglia due to controversy after the work was accused of being anti-Semitic. 
- Macbeth (Zeljko Lucic, Anna Netrebko, Joseph Calleja, René Pape, conducted by Fabio Luisi)
- Le nozze di Figaro (Ildar Abdrazakov, Marlis Petersen, Peter Mattei, conducted by James Levine)
- Carmen (Anita Rachvelishvili, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Anita Hartig, Ildar Abdrazakov, conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado)
- Il barbiere di Siviglia (Isabel Leonard, Lawrence Brownlee, Christopher Maltman, conducted by Michele Mariotti)
- Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Michael Volle, Johan Botha, Annette Dasch, conducted by James Levine)
- The Merry Widow (Renée Fleming, Nathan Gunn, Kelli O'Hara, Thomas Allen conducted by Andrew Davis)
- Les contes d'Hoffmann (Vittorio Grigolo, Hibla Gerzmava, Thomas Hampson, Kate Lindsey conducted by Yves Abel)
- Iolanta and Duke Bluebeard's Castle (Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczala, Nadja Michael, Mikhail Petrenko, conducted by Valery Gergiev
- La donna del lago (Joyce DiDonato, Juan Diego Flórez, Daniela Barcellona, conducted by Michele Mariotti)
- Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci (Marcelo Álvarez, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Patricia Racette, conducted by Fabio Luisi
- Il trovatore (Anna Netrebko, Yonghoon Lee, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Dolora Zajick, conducted by Marco Armiliato)
- Otello (Aleksandrs Antonenko, Sonya Yoncheva, Zeljko Lucic, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin
- Tannhäuser (Johan Botha, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Peter Mattei, Michelle DeYoung, conducted by James Levine)
- Lulu (Marlis Petersen, Susan Graham, Johan Reuter, conducted by Lothar Koenigs)
- Les pêcheurs de perles (Matthew Polenzani, Diana Damrau, Mariusz Kwiecien, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda)
- Turandot (Nina Stemme, Marco Berti, Anita Hartig, conducted by Paolo Carignani)
- Manon Lescaut (Kristine Opolais, Jonas Kaufmann, Massimo Cavalletti, conducted by Fabio Luisi)
- Madama Butterfly (Kristine Opolais, Roberto Alagna, Dwayne Croft, conducted by Karel Mark Chichon
- Roberto Devereux (Sondra Radvanovsky, Matthew Polenzani, Elina Garanca, Mariusz Kwiecien, conducted by Maurizio Benini)
- Elektra  (Nina Stemme, Waltraud Meier, Adrianne Pieczonka, Eric Owens, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen)
- "Metropolitan Opera to Offer Hi-Def Simulcasts in NYC Public Schools" Playbill.com, December 12, 2007
- “'Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD' Now Playing at a Theater Near You," press release, November 15, 2006
- "Operas from The Met" ClassicalTV
- Fundacion Beethoven, The Met HD en Vivo Buenos Aires
- "The Metropolitan Opera Announces Expansion of Live, High-Definition Transmissions to Eleven in 2008/09" press release, April 22, 2008
- Tom Service, "Give me divas – not DJs", The Guardian (London), March 22, 2008
- Peter Conrad, "Opera from New York in your home town? Easy. Just go to the pictures", The Guardian (London), April 22, 2007
- Steichen, James (Autumn 2011). "HD Opera: A Love/Hate Story". The Opera Quarterly 27 (4): 443–459. doi:10.1093/oq/kbs030.
- Adair, Marcia (2010-10-08). "The Metropolitan Opera's live movie screenings turn 5, despite early skepticism". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
- Maloney, Jennifer (2014-01-28). "Met Opera’s Budget Falls Short". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
- "The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD: Who Attends, and Why?" (PDF). Opera America. Fall 2008. pp. 39–44. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
- "The Impact of The Met: Live in HD on Local Opera Attendance" (PDF). Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of British Columbia. April 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
- Pamela McClintock, "Met Opera Standoff Threatens $60 Million Theater Business", The Hollywood Reporter (online), August 7, 2014 on hollywoodreporter.com
- "Tickets for Metropolitan Opera's High-Definition Movie Theater Simulcasts to Go on Sale 11/18". Opera News Online, November 16, 2006.
- Campbell Robertson, "Mozart, Now Singing at a Theatre Near You", The New York Times, January 1, 2007
- List of Met productions presented on HD in 2007
- "Metropolitan Opera's First Simulcast of 2007–08 Breaks Attendance Records" Playbill.com, December 17, 2007.
- Elizabeth Fitzsimmons, "Movie theaters offer opera live from the Met", San Diego Union-Tribune, December 31, 2006
- Richard Ouzounian, "Opera Screen Dream: Met simulcasts heat up plexes in cities, stix", Variety, March 5–11, 2007, pp. 41/42
- Peter Gelb, speaking during the intermission on March 24, 2007, noted that over 250 movie theatres were presenting the performance that day.
- Daniel Wakin, "Met Opera To Expand Simulcasts In Theaters", The New York Times, May 17, 2007
- The Met Opera’s 2007–08 Season to Feature Seven New Productions – the Most in More than 40 Years
- "Participating Theatres – Met Opera Live in HD Series – Live Performances", announced October 2, 2007
- Adam Wasserman, "Changing Definitions", Opera News, December 2007, p. 60
- Pamela McClintock, "Live perfs have Met beaming", Variety, June 11, 2008, reporting on a survey conducted by Opera America
- 2014–15 Live in HD Schedule on metoperafamily.org. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- "2015–16 Live in HD Schedule", on metopera.org