Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Peter Gelb Combines Opera, Hollywood, Fashion, And Advertising For Grand, And Strange, Evening Of Proto-Renaissance Art At The Metropolitan Opera

... "The Metropolitan Opera embarked on a new era with a season-opening gala last night that dripped wealth and celebrity but also included an unprecedented dose of populism: a simulcast in Times Square, where the giant Panasonic, Nasdaq and Reuters screens beamed Puccini’s tale of love and abandonment north to a blocked-off section of Broadway.

“It’s $300 cheaper than getting into the Met,” said Lewanne Jones, 53, a documentary filmmaker from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “I like the idea of seeing it in the middle of all this chaos. Art and advertising — which will win? The experience is so bizarre that it kind of adds to the experience.”

Back at home base, the Met also set up a screen on the Lincoln Center plaza for a simulcast. Before it all began, celebrities swept up a red carpet and were interviewed by a host as a press of photographers jostled and shouted out names, in an almost bizarre intersection of Hollywood and high art.

The opening-night performance of “Madama Butterfly,” the first new production to inaugurate a Met season in two decades, raised the curtain on the reign of Peter Gelb, the 16th general manager in the Met’s 123-year history. And the attention-getting season opening was intended to make a splash.

Mr. Gelb, a former artist manager, producer and record company executive, has waded into the job with a strategy of grabbing the public’s attention for what can seem, to rational, modern minds, an odd endeavor: unamplified dramas about human passions expressed through song, often in foreign languages, to the accompaniment of a large orchestra.

He has said his goal is to attract audiences by stressing the theatrical aspect of opera and using technology to spread performances. The results so far have been a combination of digital-age showmanship and innovation.

Mr. Gelb has announced plans to bring in more theater directors and provide recordings via Internet downloads, installed an art gallery, staged an open house and made deals to put Met operas live in movie theaters and on satellite radio If Mr. Gelb wanted to insert opera into the mainstream, the Times Square simulcast did the trick. Early arrivals were greeted with a performance by Nelly Furtado sponsored by MTV. Advertisements at the military recruitment center touted the Army, the Navy and the Air Force as the character of Pinkerton, an American naval officer, sang to Butterfly.

“I think it’s gorgeous,” Kyle Pleasant, 23, a spiky-haired actor, said at intermission. “It gives New York a romantic feeling, and it adds a lot of humanity to Times Square.”

Ron Cross, 57, visiting from Sioux Rapids, Iowa, said: “We’re from the Midwest. We don’t have things like this in the Midwest.” ...

The well-known figures who flowed down the carpet — many invited by the Met in a calculated attempt to attract attention — included Jude Law; Al Roker; Salman Rushdie and Padma Lakshmi; Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts; the designer Zac Posen and Liv Tyler, in a cream dress of his design.

There were a few children in the audience, and at least one dog, an extremely well-behaved Chihuahua." ...

Daniel J. Wakin "Met Opera Brings a Little Punch to Its Puccini" New York Times September 26, 2006


The passage of time over the twentieth century urban landscape of Nagasaki, Japan.

Photo credit: www.nagasaki-city.ed.jp. With thanks.


Yanni Live! The Concert Event [As Seen On PBS] Now Available on CD and DVD.


Post a Comment

<< Home