An opera in a cinema? Yes indeed!
On March 6, I enjoyed a live cinema performance of George Bizet’s Carmen at the movies in Amsterdam. During the 2017-2018 Season, The Royal Opera House will broadcast a total of twelve productions, six operas and six ballets and these all will be relayed live from Covent Garden, London.
After a long and tiring (but fun) day working at Stingray, a friend of mine invited me to join her at the movies. Normally, we would pick some operas and ballets that play during the season of the Dutch Opera and Ballet in the city, but since ticket prices have gone up, I thought to myself a visit to the cinema would be a good alternative.
I knew that, for a few years, The Royal Opera House broadcasts live in dozens of cinemas around the world, but I was not fully aware an Amsterdam cinema was one of them! As a classical music and opera lover, it surprisingly was my very first time watching a full opera live in a cinema and I surely don’t regret it!
The evening’s program featured Georges Bizet’s famous opera, Carmen. The French composer died a few weeks after Carmen premiered, and sadly never experienced what a success it would become. When entering the cinema, I was offered to take a glass of champagne to our seats. That was not disappointing! Before the start of the actual opera, various singing stars from the cast were interviewed, as was the conductor Christopher Willes and director Barrie Kosky. Footage from rehearsals came along, providing interesting background information about this production of Carmen.
Though originally set in Sevilla in 1830, director Barry Kosky chose costumes from the 1920s, with officers wearing German army uniforms. The stage consisted primarily of some giant stairs. I particularly liked the dancing scenes, accompanied by six phenomenal dancers in somewhat futuristic toreador suites. Like the character Carmen seduces all men, I was mesmerized the beautiful soprano Anna Goryachova, who played the opera’s title role.
I’m almost afraid to say it, but I liked the sound in the cinema over the actual sound of the opera house. And because the broadcast was filmed from multiple camera angles, the visitors could see much more details. When you are sitting far away in a theatre, you will miss the custom details and the actor’s facial expressions. Another big advantage was the subtitles, at the bottom of the screen, as usual in movies. However, at the local Opera House, I had to move my neck up and down to keep both an eye on the stage and on the subtitles.
Altogether, I strongly advise people to visit one of the upcoming productions the Royal Opera House. You can check if a performance will be available in cinemas close to you! Next on the programme is the ballet performance Bernstein Centenary, live in theatres on March 27!