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[ARSCLIST] Met Opera on the web

I just happened to hear this mentioned on a pseudo-classical station in Toronto. Might be of interest..might sound awful, who knows?

The Met Opera Will Offer Performances on the Web
Published: October 14, 2008

In the Metropolitan Opera’s relentless quest to exploit all media, the company next Wednesday will start making many video and audio broadcasts available for Internet streaming on demand.

A screen from Met Player, a new online service from the Metropolitan Opera.

Met Player, as the service is called, will be available through the Met’s Web site, metopera.org. At its inauguration, on the 125th anniversary of the Met’s first show, users will be able to choose from 13 high-definition video performances, 37 standard video recordings and 120 audio broadcasts dating to 1937. The company said it planned to add performances regularly, drawing on its vast historical archives and its continuing high-definition broadcasts.

The catalog features classics like a “Lucia di Lammermoor” performance with Joan Sutherland and one with Maria Callas; a “Walküre” with Birgit Nilsson as Brünnhilde; a “Trovatore” with Leontyne Price and Franco Corelli; and a “Carmen” with Rosa Ponselle, in one of her rare full-length recorded performances. More recently, there are the “Tristan und Isolde” with Deborah Voigt and Robert Dean Smith, conducted by James Levine, and “I Puritani” with Anna Netrebko, each in high definition.

For $3.99 or $4.99 per streamed opera, users will have a six-hour window in which to listen to or watch a production, once it has started. A monthly subscription for $14.99 brings unlimited streaming, while a yearly subscription costs $149.99.

The technical demands are relatively substantial for the high-definition videos and what the Met calls “optimal” performance: a broadband connection, naturally, as well as a fast processor (2.0 GHz Dual Core) and one gigabyte of RAM. Computers less than two years old are recommended.

Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, has pushed hard to extend the Met’s performances into the electronic realm. The company provides regular live transmissions of performances to movie theaters, has a channel on Sirius Satellite Radio and provides one live streaming a week.

Other opera houses have followed suit to one degree or another: the Bayreuth Festival offered a live streaming of “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” last summer; the Royal Opera House in London has a free streamed “Don Giovanni” available; and the San Francisco Opera provides a few excerpts from its productions. But the Met’s on-demand streaming effort appears to be the most extensive of any house.

In a recent try-out offered ahead of time by the Met, the service functioned well, despite a few glitches. First, users must log on and download the player. Several times during the trial an attempt to stream a 2007 high-definition performance of “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” hiccupped and caused the browser to close. But the process worked on the next try. The sound was clear and rich, and the video sharp.

Dragging a cursor over the titles on the catalog page brought pop-up synopses, but the text bled into the rest of the screen, making it illegible. A Met official said the browser or the computer being used, a relatively new model, was at fault.

The site’s search mechanism was also clumsy, and the subtitles could not be extinguished. The Met said future versions of the player would probably improve those matters.

The player allows users to choose tracks, mark favorite operas, fast-forward or backward and put the image into full-screen mode. There are links to synopses and related articles from the Met Web site.


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