The Metropolitan Opera opens its series of Summer Encores this week – a selection of performances from the award-winning series, The Met: Live in HD – which are to be screened in cinemas around the world over the next few weeks. Featured in these Encore presentations are two Verdi operas – Rigoletto and Otello – Puccini’s La Rondine, and the Baroque fantasy The Enchanted Island.
The Met: Live in HD has just concluded its eighth season, which saw these productions screened in more than 2,000 cinemas, in 67 countries. The Met has now become the leading producer of alternative cinema content, and achieved an impressive sale of 15 million tickets worldwide in April, with the live transmission of Puccini’s La Bohème.
The first performance in the 2014 Summer Encores series is Verdi’s Rigoletto – a highly acclaimed production by Tony Award-winning director, Michael Mayer, who lifted the setting from the decadence of a 16th-century Italian court and transported it to a glitzy and somewhat degenerate 1960s Las Vegas strip – “a neon-lit world ruled by money and ruthless, powerful men”. Mayer’s version of Rigoletto certainly raised some eyebrows in the opera world when it premiered at The Met on February 16, 2013.
The media, however, loved it. Bloomberg News reported: “It’s impossible not to like the new production. It’s wildly entertaining, inventive, strangely funny and yet also deeply sad… Mayer captures both the emotional depth and surface glitter in an audacious staging…. The audience whooped approval at the end.”
Mayer’s production, wrote The Wall Street Journal, “gives a contemporary immediacy to this tale of how power and vice corrupt everything around them… The strong cast of principals carries out the concept with gusto.”
Associated Press simply said: “Rigoletto hits the jackpot.”
In Mayer’s Rigoletto, the Duke – sung by Polish tenor Piotr Beczala – is a popular entertainer and casino owner. Serbian baritone, Željko Lučić, is Rigoletto – the comedian and the Duke’s sidekick – and German soprano, Diana Damrau, sings Gilda, the Duke’s innocent daughter. Slovakian base, Štefan Kocán, is the assassin-for-hire, Sparafucile, and Belarussian mezzo-soprano, Oksana Volkova, makes her debut with the Met as Sparafucile’s beguiling sister, Maddalena.
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus are led by young Italian conductor, Michele Mariotti, a rising star in Europe, who made his Met debut in the 2012-13 season, leading a production of Carmen.
The Met’s transmission of Rigoletto is hosted by the much-loved American soprano, Renée Fleming, recipient of the 2012 National Medal of Arts – America’s highest award presented to an individual artist.
Rigoletto will be screened on Wednesday, June 18, at 7.00 pm (ET), so the best advice is to check with your local theater for dates and times.
A list of US cinemas can be found on this link.
For cinemas in the UK, follow this link.
For other international cinemas, follow this link.
There will be additional broadcasts – of Roméo et Juliette and La Fanciulla del West – however they will be screened in select locations only, and the screening dates will be chosen by the individual cinemas. Please contact your local theater to check availability and dates.
More information on the Live in HD Summer Encores can be found on this link.