tried to feel ballsy about it, like a toreador advancing into
the bullring. In this case, I was fighting cultural indifference
by flinging myself into a movie-theater seat at Crossgates
Mall, asserting, by my presence at a Metropolitan Opera simulcast,
that a small beacon of enlightenment still shone. Until I
realized that Crossgates and all it stands for doesn’t give
a shit provided I’m forking over cash.
the snob in me (and it’s a very large presence) took much
more satisfaction in attending an opera simulcast on Dec.
7 at the GE Theatre at Proctors. Furthermore: This was the
opening night at La Scala. Take that, Lincoln
A new production of Georges Bizet’s Carmen is opera-world
newsworthy; in this case, it also featured the debut of 25-year-old
mezzo Anita Rachvelishvili in the title role, a casting gamble
by conductor Daniel Barenboim that paid off brilliantly. She
has a big, gorgeous voice with a rich top end, and she acted
the role with passionate conviction.
Jonas Kaufmann’s Don José was a convincing contrast. His Act
2 aria “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” was a high point, and
his final moments worked convincingly in spite of director
Emma Dante’s attempt to turn it into a superfluous rape scene.
Dante came from the theater world with no opera experience
but plenty of ideas about goosing the production with high-concept
folderol. Barenboim reportedly put the kibosh on some of the
more outrageous of them, but she nevertheless was roundly
booed by the opening-night audience—which is part of the La
The broadcast itself is a high- definition signal that looks
terrific on the GE Theatre screen, with adequate sound as
its complement. The video director had planned the sequences
well, with a few discreet dress-rehearsal inserts dropped
in, and we even got a preshow taste of the opening-night audience
Good thing we went to the early show, though; the evening’s
rebroadcast went blooey at Radiotelevisione Italiana’s
end, losing the last two acts to technical difficulties.
Proctors’ presentation of the Opera in the Cinema series continues
with Verdi’s Il Trovatore live from Gran Teatre del
Liceu in Barcelona at 2 PM on Dec. 22, with a repeat at 7:30
PM; and Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, from La Scala, at 2 and
7:30 PM on Jan. 26.