The Met: Live in HD calling opera fans to Fairfield University


March 15: Britten's "Peter Grimes"

Fairfield University announces its participation in "The Met: Live in HD," the company's groundbreaking series of live opera transmissions, currently in its second season. The University will present four magnificent operas live in HD at the Quick Center for the Arts in the next two months, beginning with "Peter Grimes" on Saturday, March 15 at 1:30 p.m.

Charles Allen, S.J., executive assistant to the president, will introduce the first opera in the series, a new production of Benjamin Britten's dark drama, "Peter Grimes," directed by John Doyle and starring Anthony Dean Griffey in the title role. The opera begins promptly at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $22 general, $20 seniors, $15 students and children and a $10 group rate for 10 people or more. Open seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The series continues with Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" on March 22; Puccini's "La Bohème," on April 5, arguably the most beloved of operas and used as the basis for the Broadway musical "Rent"; the final opera in the season will be an Encore Presentation of the new production of Donizetti's "La Fille du Régiment" on Sunday, April 27.

Fairfield University president, Jeffrey von Arx, S.J. announced the series saying, "This is a unique cultural opportunity that we want to make available to our students and to the community. The fusion of technology and art reintroduces a centuries-old richly classical popular art form to a wider modern audience. The collaborative spirit of the Met venture makes it possible for a novice audience to join with opera devotees like myself in enjoying the operatic art form in familiar surroundings and at reasonable prices."

In preparation for this thrilling series, Fairfield University is investing in a high-definition projector system that produces an image and sound of the highest technological standards.

According to former New York City Opera star Brenda Lewis, a Fairfield County resident who has experienced two of the series' operas live in HD, "This is a mind-blowing experience and 'a must' for anyone who loves the fireworks of a big rock concert."

In this, the second season of expanded live satellite transmissions, attendance records are being broken and there are an increasing number of sold-out screens throughout the United States, Canada, in Japan, Australia and Europe. The Los Angeles Times declared, "The Met's experiment of merging film with live performance has created a new art form."

Lewis is emphatic about the undeniable success the live HD broadcasts have achieved as a means of communicating a larger-than-life art form, "The state-of-the-art equipment multiplies the shear animal force that bursts forth from singers through close-ups as well as wide shots that demonstrate the huge scale of the entire production." The Met has strategically placed up to fifteen high-definition cameras around and behind the stage to pick up nuances in performances as well as the raw power of the full picture.

Lewis continued, "The audience is taken into the bowels of the theater and given the opportunity to actually see the scenery moved, which can be quite a feat because of the enormous scale of the productions." For the intermissions, the Met produces exclusive live backstage interviews with the artists and other members of the production or artistic teams.

Director Doyle's production of "Peter Grimes," also stars the riveting Patricia Racette as Ellen Orford, the woman who refuses to abandon Grimes. The New York Times' recent review anointed Britten's work as "...among the true operatic masterpieces of the 20th century." The reviewer, Anthony Tommasini, called Griffey, "...an elegant singer and courageous actor..." and he applauded Racette's performance, noting, "...the fine soprano Patricia Racette brought vocal richness and vulnerability to her subtle portrayal."

Noted writer Harvey Sachs, author of many books on music, expressed his view of the effect created by the intriguingly opposing elements within the opera: "The score of 'Peter Grimes,' considered by many to be Britten's masterpiece, contains some of the composer's most beautiful and appealing music, especially in the celebrated Sea interludes ... But the work's powerful emotional impact can also be unsettling."

Doyle, a Tony Award® winner for his interpretation of Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd," makes his Met debut answering the challenges of this modern masterpiece.

Tickets are available online at www.quickcenter.com or by calling the Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 1-877-ARTS-396.

The schedule for "Peter Grimes" and the remaining three operas to be presented at Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts as part of the Met's 2007-08 Season follow:

  • Britten's "Peter Grimes," (new production) Saturday, March 15 (1:30-5:15 p.m.)
    Running time: 3 hours, 45 minutes. 2 Intermissions
  • Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde," Saturday, March 22 (12:30-6:05 p.m.) Running time: 5 hours, 35 minutes. 2 Intermissions
  • Puccini's "La Bohème," Saturday, April 5 (1:30-4:50 p.m.)
    Running time: 3 hours, 20 minutes. 2 Intermissions
  • Donizetti's "La Fille du Régiment" (new production), ** Encore Presentation ** Sunday, April 27 (1:30-4:40 p.m.) Running time: 3 hours, 10 minutes. 1 Intermission

Buy tickets now to MetHD at Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 5, 2008

Vol. 40, No. 180