The Met offers opera to all — right here on Delmarva

Date Published: 
March 14, 2014

Music fans don’t have to travel to New York City to enjoy the Metropolitan Opera. They can immerse themselves from the comfort of their local movie theater.

“Every time I go, I think, ‘More people ought to know about this. What a wonderful resource right under our nose,’” said Ronnie Malone, an opera enthusiast. “I’m a wonderful fan of opera and go to the Met in the city three times a year, but I also go to every one of these I possibly can, because even if you see the same opera in the flesh or in the theater like a movie, the music is the same and the singers are the same, but the experiences are different.”

Twice a week, the Met offers Live in HD, a live performance streamed to hundreds of theaters all over the country, including Fox Sun & Surf in Ocean City, Md.

“It has caught on because it reaches audiences that can’t afford to or live too far away from cities where operas are performed,” said Malone. “It’s just a wonderful opportunity, and not a lot of people go.”

Performances are held on Saturday afternoons, with Wednesday encore performances in the evenings. Tickets cost $22 per person.

Massenet’s “Werther” will be shown on March 15 at 12:55 p.m. and Wednesday, March 19, at 6:30 p.m. Puccini’s “La Bohème” will be shown on April 5 at 12:55 p.m. and April 9 at 6:30 p.m. Mozart’s “Così fan tutte” will be shown on April 26 at 12:55 p.m. and April 30 at 6:30 p.m. Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” will be shown on May 10 at 12:55 p.m. and on May 14 at 6:30 p.m.

“The cool thing is, when you go to the Saturday performance in Ocean City, they hand you a whole sheet that has the cast, a synopsis of each act. So, if you’re not a big opera fan, you can learn something.”

“Werther” is a story of unrequited love. “La Bohème” tells the story of the adventures of young and starving artists, in love and in Paris.

“Così fan tutte” is a farce that tells the story of two young soldiers who accept a wager that their sweethearts will prove unfaithful if given the chance. The men accept the bet and tell their sweethearts that they have been called to the front and leave Naples. They return, however, in disguise to woo each other’s sweetheart.

“La Cenerentola” is a twist on the classic Cinderella story, with the evil stepmother replaced by an evil stepfather, and a glass slipper replaced by a bracelet.

“La Bohème is a heart-wrenching story that people have been crying about ever since it was written,” said Malone, “and everybody knows the Cinderella story.”

Along with Fox Sun & Surf, the performances are shown at Cape Henlopen High School and the Avalon Theater in Easton, Md.

“What happens when you go to the theater is there will be a host or hostess for the day. They will tell you about the opera, about the stars — the roles they’re singing and what character they’re playing. Then the opera begins…” described Malone. “Sometimes it begins backstage, and they’ll be saying, ‘Conductor to the pit. Conductor to the pit.’ Then you’ll see the conductor go through the pit. Then you see the overture and the opera.

“It is fascinating. You really feel like you’re there, in a way you’re not when you’re there in the audience live, because you don’t see all the backstage stuff and all of the interviews.”

Malone said the host for the performance will even interview the opera stars after they’ve finished performing a powerful aria.

“There’s lots of backstage footage, so you’ll see how they take the scenery apart, how they put it back together again. That continues throughout the course of the opera,” she added. “You’ll meet people like the head carpenter, the prompter, the general manager, the conductor for the day. You might even get a little glimpse of an opera that’s in rehearsal for later in the season.”

Malone said that every performance is accompanied by subtitles, so theatergoers can follow along with the story or just get swept up in the music.

“There are just some marvelous human qualities about opera, about life, how people have lived in different ages. There’s a terrific amount of humor. Some of them are outrageously funny. Some of them are very modern,” she said. “It appeals to the human spirit. It takes you out of yourself and into another world. You don’t have to know anything about the opera. You can learn as you go along.”

The Met has an 80-year tradition of broadcasting live performances to millions of radio listeners, which led to the opera house offering the HD program. Malone said the performances are an excellent resource for music lovers of all ages.

“I don’t know that teachers around here know that, because I think there’re some music students who could benefit greatly from going,” she said. “Operas give us incredibly great beauty, and I think people of all ages like beauty. The music is really gorgeous. There are so many wonderful young singers. Many of the top singers at the Met are very young. The Met over the years has had programs to develop young singers.

“I think opera, especially now, especially in this particular format, with so much explanation, with interviews with the stars, backstage insights — young people with interest in theater production could learn so much just by watching this incredible huge stage that pulls and drops, goes in circles and all crazy things. You have people who are very young who would appeal to young audiences but could appeal to old audiences too.”

Malone said she hopes more people in the area will take advantage of the amazing opportunity to see the world-class opera house perform amazing classical works, viewed in a very modern format.

“I would just hope that people give it a shot,” she said. “Just go to one. If you have never been to the opera, this is a very inexpensive way to see opera. Try it. You might like it.”

For more information on the Metropolitan Opera and the Live in HD program, or to purchase tickets, visit Fox Sun & Surf is located at 14301 Coastal Highway (Route 1) in Ocean City, Md.