The thing about the opera is it’s very expensive. And even if you’re prepared to splurge on those very expensive tickets, good seats are often impossible to get.
Such was the case recently with the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019-2020 season opener, Porgy and Bess. The critically lauded staging of the Gershwins’ classic—which stars bass-baritone Eric Owens and soprano Angel Blue in the title roles—sold out when it played this fall. It was so popular, the Met even added extra performances, but good luck getting in to see it.
Fortunately, there’s another way to at least catch the show live, if not in the flesh. The Met’s “Live in HD” series, now entering its 14th season, will broadcast Porgy and Bess into more than 2,000 movie theaters in 73 countries this weekend. The performance takes place on Saturday (February 1) beginning at 12:55 p.m. ET. It’ll be beamed directly to cinemas in all 50 states, the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, and world capitals from Paris to Beirut.
Capturing a live performance and presenting it effectively on a screen is a tricky endeavor. More often than not, such efforts come off looking stilted and cheap, stripped of the magic of a flesh-and-blood performance. They’ve gotten a bit better over the years as technology has improved and producers have refined their filming techniques, but many stage purists would just rather see something live or not see it at all. Don’t we spend enough time in front of screens as it is?
That said, the Met’s transmitted performances are in a weight class all their own, the product of 10 HD cameras—including one that moves autonomously along the edge of the stage—along with Steadicams to capture some of the backstage drama. A sophisticated network of fiber and satellites transmits the performances as they happen in 12 different time zones simultaneously. It’s all a very impressive mix of artistry and technology.
Plus, seeing a Met performance in a large cinema surrounded by hundreds of other opera enthusiasts is almost as good as seeing it live. And let’s be honest: You’ll never get tickets to the real thing anyway.
You can find a full list of participating theaters here.
Finally, if you can’t make it to a theater, you can listen to a live radio broadcast of the same performance on the Toll Brothers—Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.