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Metropolitan Opera High-Definition Theater Broadcasts

New York's Metropolitan Opera is embarking on an experiment by broadcasting live, high-definition video and audio of performances to a few select theaters nationwide. The only theater in the Bay Area on this list is in Dublin, at the Regal Hacienda Crossings 20 multiplex at 5000 Dublin Blvd. All begin at 10:30 am PST. (update: Emery Bay 10 in Emeryville and Regal Natomas Marketplace 16 in Sacramento have been added.)

The Magic Flute, December 30, 2006
Celebrated director and filmmaker Julie Taymor, who directed The Lion King on Broadway, brings her dynamic theatrical vision to Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Dancing bears, flying birds, a giant serpent—all are brought vividly to life through Taymor’s ingenious use of puppetry. This abridged 100-minute version of Mozart’s opera is sung in English and features a winning young cast conducted by beloved Met Maestro James Levine.

I Puritani, January 6, 2007
The sensational Russian soprano Anna Netrebko (“Audrey Hepburn with a voice,” according to one critic) has taken the opera world by storm, dazzling audiences in Vienna, Milan, Berlin, New York, and Los Angeles. Now she inhabits the role of the fragile Elvira in Bellini’s I Puritani, who delivers one of opera’s wildest mad scenes when she is abandoned at the altar. With its vocal fireworks and opportunities for real acting, this has been a supreme role for great singing actresses from Maria Callas to Beverly Sills. (John Relyea is Giorgio.)

The First Emperor, January 13, 2007
The world-premiere broadcast of Chinese composer Tan Dun’s epic opera, The First Emperor, features the legendary tenor Plácido Domingo as Emperor Qin, who built the Great Wall and gave China its name. Tan Dun’s music is a fascinating mix of East and West, and the monumental production is staged by revered Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern and House of Flying Daggers), with costumes by Oscar-winning designer Emi Wada (Kurosawa’s Ran).

Eugene Onegin, February 24, 2007
The beloved American soprano Renée Fleming joins Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky for this broadcast of Tchaikovsky’s gorgeous and lyrical Eugene Onegin. The sweeping dramatic arc of this opera—youthful longing, rejection, regret, a desperate plea that comes too late—is perfectly mirrored in Tchaikovsky’s achingly beautiful music and in the stunning lighting of this strikingly minimal production.

The Barber of Seville (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), March 24, 2007
The instantly familiar music of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) has been featured in cartoons, commercials, and TV shows galore, but it’s best heard in its original form, where its infectious charm and bubbling joy are given free reign. In the Met’s new production, by acclaimed theater director Bartlett Sher and his Tony Award-winning team from The Light in the Piazza, the dashing young Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez proves why he is one of the world’s greatest Rossini singers, in his calling-card role of Count Almaviva.

Il Trittico, April 28, 2007
Jealousy, murder, suicide, religious rapture, intrigue, young love! No, it isn’t a soap opera— it’s Puccini’s triple-bill of one-act operas, Il Trittico. This gripping new production by Broadway luminary (and Tony Award-winner) Jack O’Brien and a team of leading theater designers showcases the amazing technical resources of the Met stage as well as a brilliant ensemble cast, not to mention Puccini at his most hauntingly lyrical and dramatic. The Met’s celebrated music director, James Levine, conducts.