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New York Met flaunts high-tech new set

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Tomorrow, opera fans in Philadelphia will gather at the Riverview Cinema to see a live, high-definition broadcast of the New York Met’s new Ring cycle. The legendary opera of gods, men, and valkeries has a new look, which has lovers of Wagner either bristling or applauding.

The New York Met shook up the opera world last year when its new manager put on a very sparse staging of Tosca. This year he did away with the beloved 25 year-old sets of Das Rheingold, the first part of the four-part Ring cycle, in favor of a snazzy set featuring lots of video projected onto a string of moveable planks which becomes, by turns, a staircase, an ocean, a wall, or anything it needs to be.

Some traditionalists have scoffed the technology as alienating – the centerpiece contraption had a mechanical glitch on opening night. Dr. Alan Sandman, a psychiatrist in the city, says the newness is attractive.

“When you see the same style productions over and over again, I think that it’s missing something – it’s missing a level of intensity that new productions bring to opera. While the music is wonderful – if I wanted to just hear the beautiful music I’d flip a CD in the doo-dad and start listening. I want to go there.”

A simulcast of the Met opera will be broadcast live in selected movie theaters across the country. Opera fans have noticed that improvements in camera technology can capture opera even in very dark stage lighting.

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