When I first heard about the Metropolitan Opera’s HD program, I sniffed. Who wanted a camera to tell me where to look onstage? Who wanted to rely on a sound system in a movie theater, however good, to replace the thrill of hearing a live orchestra?
Well, the answer turned out to be “me.” I was converted in 2007 by Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin,” which I was convinced I would never see live. (Opera Carolina startled Charlotte operagoers by taking it on some time later.)
The clarity of the images, magnificence of the singing and opulence of design held me fast; even the chatty features at intermission, which can seem gratingly self-promoting in the wrong hands, informed me without breaking the spell.
The Met celebrates its 10th anniversary of these high-definition simulcasts Saturday with Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.” By chance, the villainous Count de Luna will be sung by Dmitri Hvorostovsky, the great Russian baritone I saw as Onegin. (He has resumed singing after a diagnosis this summer of a brain tumor, which he began to treat in early September.)
The strong cast features fellow Russian Anna Netrebko as Leonora, the woman whom both di Luna and his brother, Manrico, love. Dolora Zajick will sing Azucena, the mad gypsy, and Yonghoon Lee will do Manrico.
Of course, Opera Carolina will eventually produce “Il Trovatore” again. It has also done “Otello,” “Le Pecheurs de Perles” and “Turandot,” all of which are in the Met’s current HD season. But I would bet you the paycheck I got yesterday that you won’t see “Lulu,” “Tannhauser,” “Elektra” or “Roberto Devereux” – which are also part of this varied and appealing Met roster – done live here in the next decade. (Or maybe ever.)
“Il Trovatore” will be shown at 12:55 p.m. at AMC Concord Mills, Regal Stonecrest and Salisbury’s Tinseltown. To learn more about the HD season, which offers free readers’ guides to all the operas, go to the Met's website.