The Fat Lady is About to Sing

You don’t have to spend the weekend in New York City to see live performances at the Metropolitan Opera. Thanks to the Live in HD program, you can watch the performances live in more than 1,200 movie theaters across the country and around the world. In the 2009-2010 season, the series sold more than 2.2 million tickets. The program will be showing six operas this summer in its “Summer HD Encores” series, which will be shown on Wednesday evenings June 16 through July 28. The Met has also announced nine live transmissions for the 2010-2011 season.

This is actually a brilliant use of technology. Granted, you may not find a mob of opera lovers on every street corner in the U.S., but there are plenty of them out there. There are digital cinemas in major cities, making it possible to fill the seats for special events such as these. There’s no need to make expensive film prints; the performances are distributed digitally. And opera fans get to see world class performances right in their home towns.

This is important, even if you’re not an opera fan. It demonstrates that it can be practical to hold theatrical presentations of events that may have a small but loyal following. This could apply not just to opera, but also to sporting events that don’t command a national broadcast network audience, or other forms of art or entertainment. In an era when more and more people are choosing their living rooms as their favorite place to watch a movie, the local cinemas will have to find alternative programming to bring in the paying customers.