For the Culture Vulture: NYC Opera and London Theatre at our Doorstep

Pictured Above: “The prelude Verdi’s “La Traviata.”.  Photo Credit: Jonathan Tichler/Met Opera.

By: Jenny Paschall Lyon 

Arts News Now writer, Jenny Paschall Lyon shares with Arts News Now readers on how to experience the best of New York opera and London theater, right here at our doorstep

For culture vultures, opera and live theater are thrilling events. We can experience up close and personal the excitement of a live performance and enjoy the proximity to the performers on stage. But these days an outing to the opera or theater can be prohibitively expensive. Lavish productions are magnificent to see, but come at a high cost to the audience with the ticket price often reflecting the quality and size of the cast. The bigger the star, the larger the cast, the more we, the audience, must pay.

 

For quite some time now, however, there have been 2 very affordable and enjoyable options which give audiences a full theater going experience without the eye watering cost. Both the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and the National Theater in London offer ‘Live’ performances in local theaters. If the timing works, you can actually see the performance in real time – here in Bucks County that’s often at noon – or there are ‘Encore’ showings at more convenient hours.

The Met: Live in HD was launched in 2006 and now reaches more than 2,000 venues in 73 countries. We in Bucks County are fortunate to be on that list, with showings in Warrington Crossing 22 and Water Tower Cinema in Lansdale.

 

The Met: Live in HD is for everyone. Whether you’re already a fan of the opera, or a first timer wanting to see just what opera is all about, this is a perfect way to enjoy the experience.  The productions are chosen to represent a variety of styles and the full range of the Met repertoire and artists. They all feature great storytelling, magnificent singing, and extraordinary production values. The repertoire is varied – this season includes classics such as Don Giovanni, and a new opera from the six-time Grammy Award–winning composer Terence Blanchard, entitled Champion. Cast sheets and synopses are available by email prior to each live transmission.

Pictured Above: The National Theatre.  Photo Credit: NTLive.com

Similarly, the London National Theater Live brings the best of live theater to audiences around the world. Their mission has been to make theatre available to everyone and share unforgettable stories with audiences around the world. And they have certainly succeeded.

 

The program began in June 2009 with a production of Phedre, starring Hellen Mirren. Just like the Met, the plays are varied to showcase different styles and talents.  Seasons have included Shakespearean favorites like Othello and Henry V alongside more modern classics such as A Streetcar Named Desire, as well as brand new dramas – Prima Facie, which was broadcast last year, is now on Broadway with it’s brilliant star, Jodie Comer. The latest production of Othello can be seen at the County Theater in Ambler on Sunday May 7th, and in Doylestown on Sunday May 21st.

Pictured Above: A scene from Othello with the National Theatre.  Photo Credit: NTLive.com

Additionally, both the Met and National Theater offer a much more immersive experience than just watching the play on our movie theater screens. As the performances are filmed live, the audience is invited into the theater itself to participate as a real live audience member. When we enter our local movie theater auditorium we can see the audience taking their seats in New York or London.  As the lights go down on the live performance, we’re right there with them. And, just to add to the fun, we’re often taken for a backstage tour during the interval. So, while the live audience are fighting their way through the crowds for a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, we can sit back in our seats and enjoy live interviews with actors, singers, directors, designers, and stage technicians. It’s fascinating to hear a costume designer or director discuss their choices while we’re in the middle of the experience. In the past seasons, the intermission features at the Met have been hosted by stars like Renée Fleming and Plácido Domingo or, in the case of the National Theater, there have been conversations with the likes of Sir Ian McKellan and Derek Jacobi.

 

The best of New York opera and London theater is a short drive away. Check out show times and links below.

Pictured Above: Die Zauberflöte.  Photo Credit: Met Opera’s website

National Theatre Live:

Othello

County Theater, Ambler on Sunday May 7

County Theater, Doylestown on Sunday May 14

 

Met Opera:

Don Giovanni ENCORE

May 24 | 1:00 PM

May 24 | 6:30 PM

Die Zauberflöte LIVE

June 3 | 12:55 PM

Die Zauberflöte ENCORE

June 7 | 1:00 PM

June 7 | 6:30 PM

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