Met in HD: Legendary Zeffirelli ‘La Bohème’ production to air

Met in HD: Legendary Zeffirelli ‘La Bohème’ production to air

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The Met in HD to present Zeffirelli production of Puccini's 'La Bohème.'
The Met in HD to present Zeffirelli production of Puccini's 'La Bohème.' (Credit: Cory Weaver for the NY Metropolitan Opera)

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2014 – “The Met Live in HD” returns to movie theaters across the U.S. and around the world offering what may prove to be the biggest ticket-seller in the company’s history: An HD simulcast of Puccini’s beloved tragic opera, “La Bohème.”

Better yet, the Met goes 100% grand opera on this one, bringing to New York, as well as to its many fans around the world, filmmaker and director Franco Zeffirelli’s legendary, cinematic production which almost literally recreates 19th century Paris onstage. Washingtonians actually had a chance to see this production live well over a decade ago in a Washington National Opera series of performances, and many still talk about it.

Some have criticized Zeffirelli’s production as obviously attempting to draw attention in his direction, thus detracting from Puccini’s phenomenal score. But on the other hand, something that’s always made opera special is its bigger-than-life portrayals. And no production has ever made the lives of an intrepid band of young, starving Parisian artists seem more real, vibrant and appealing.

Except, of course, for the opera’s unforgettable four-hanky finale. Bring plenty of Kleenex. Seriously.

The Met’s enthusiastic PR machine notes that this HD movie theater telecast will meet and beat the 15 million-viewer mark for this series since it was launched back in 2006. HD productions are now seen in over 2,000 movie theaters in 66 different countries.

Of course, what are a bunch of seriously fancy sets if you don’t have singers to match the spectacle? The Met rarely lets you down in this department, and this “La Bohème” is no exception.

Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo stars as Rodolfo, a struggling Parisian poet who falls hopelessly in love with his neighbor, a winsome but frail young seamstress named Mimi. She’s sung by Romanian soprano Anita Hartig who’s making her Metropolitan Opera debut in this production. Susanna Phillips is cased as the coquettish Musetta who gets to steal Zeffirelli’s grand outdoor evening café scene in the opera’s second stanza with her famous “Waltz” aria.

A major plus in attending installments of this HD broadcast series is the predictably fascinating series of live interviews with each opera’s stars.

Another big plus is the live camera coverage of the elaborate choreography undertaken by the company’s substantial backstage crew, those invisible men and women who actually help make the magic happen onstage. It’s a certainty that getting Zeffirelli’s massively elaborate sets moved into place for each act will be a Herculean task and it will be fascinating to watch how these folks do it.

This week’s intermission features will be hosted by mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.

The Met’s theatrical HD simulcast of “La Bohème” will start at 12:55 p.m. EDT on Saturday, April 5, 2014. Tickets are said to be going much faster than usual, so get yours today if you can. For details on the production and tickets, link to the Met’s HD info pages here.

If you’ve never attended before and aren’t quite sure where your local simulcast is taking place, a list of participating U.S. and International theaters is available via the Met’s HD site.

While you await tomorrow’s simulcast, check out this video of a “La Bohème” rehearsal backstage at the Met.

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