AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: L.A. Phil, Met Opera return to movie theater screens

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

A shorter version of this
article was first published today in the above papers.

 

One of the more intriguing classical music developments of
the 21st century — live telecasts of programs to movie theaters –
resumes this month as both the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera
begin their new telecast seasons during the next fortnight and others join the
bandwagon.

 

The Met began beaming live Saturday performances into movie
theaters five years ago. The concept has been a resounding success and
continues to grow as the 11 telecasts this season will be sent to 1,600
theaters in 54 countries, with Russia, Israel, China and four other countries
and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands joining the stable this year.

 

Meanwhile, the L.A. Philharmonic will open the second season
of its “LA Phil Live” series next Sunday at 2 p.m. (local time), with Music
Director Gustavo Dudamel conducting the first of three concerts broadcast from
Walt Disney Concert Hall. The program is all-Mendelssohn: the Hebrides Overture, Symphony No. 3 (Scottish) and the Violin Concerto, with
the brilliant young Dutch violinist Janine Jansen as soloist. As was the case
last year, the telecast will include interviews with Dudamel and the soloist,
rehearsal footage and the concert itself. The other concerts in the series will
be on Saturday — not Sunday — Feb. 18, a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8
(Symphony of a Thousand) telecast
from Caracas, and a Spring 2012 date TBA — (More info on the series HERE)

 

While questions remain about the viability of orchestra
concert telecasts both in terms of the programming quality and ticket sales,
the Met telecasts have grown in sophistication and and the venture has become a
significant income stream for the Met (the number reported in one article was
$8 million for last season).

 

The Met: Live in HD
season opens Oct. 15 with a telecast of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena with Anna Netrebko in the title role joined by her
Russian colleagues, Ekaterina Gubanova as Jane Seymour and Ildar Abdrazakov as
Enrico (Henry VIII). Marco Armilato conducts this new production, which opened
the Met’s 2011-2012 season. A repeat telecast will be shown on Nov. 2.

 

The second telecast is a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni on Oct. 29 with an “encore
performance” on Nov. 16. Mariusz Kwiecien sings the title role. Fabrio Luisi,
the Met’s newly named principal conductor, will be in the pit.

 

This was one of the productions that Music Director James
Levine was supposed to conduct before he fell in Vermont in August and
underwent emergency surgery. Luisi, who had previously been the Met’s principal
guest conductor, was promoted to principal conductor and will step in to
conduct Don Giovanni and other
productions this fall, which has caused major scheduling headaches for
organizations from Vienna and Rome to San Francisco and Los Angeles (LA Opera
Music Director James Conlon agreed to step in and conduct performances of
Verdi’s Requiem with the San Francisco Symphony next month). Click HERE for
Daniel J. Wakin’s article in the New York
Times.

  

BTW: in a change from last season, most Met telecasts will
begin at 9:55 a.m. Pacific Time. Repeat telecasts of each program are usual
shown about two weeks later.

 

Another entry into the telecast market will come on Oct. 22
(the bicentennial of Franz Liszt’s birth) at 8 p.m. (local time) when Charles
Dutoit leads the Philadelphia Orchestra in a concert that includes Chinese
pianist Lang Lang as soloist in Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1. This is a tape
delay of a telecast from earlier that day and will be repeated on Oct. 24.

 

The program will also include Lang Lang segments from the
2011 iTunes Festival in London, including interviews, commentary, and musical
performances. However, the telecast will not include Shostakovich’s Symphony
No. 10, which will be performed in Philadelphia but not shown as part of the
telecast.

 

Details on all of these telecasts can be found HERE.

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(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.