Sumptuous operas on screen

A scene from Nabucco, in which Plácido Domingo brings another new baritone role to the Met Opera under the baton of his longtime collaborator James Levine. Picture by Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera.


TWO sumptuous productions from New York’s Metropolitan Opera, filmed with high-definition cameras, will be screened in February at Cinema Nouveau cinemas countrywide, and other treats are in the pipeline.

Six new successes are among the 10 filmed operas assembled for the current season of filmed opera which opened on November 19 last year with Mozart’s Don Giovanni, followed from December 3 by Wagner’s epic tragedy, Tristan und Isolde.

Plácido Domingo as the title character in Nabucco.

The series’ first broadcast of Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin ran in cinemas from January 7 – and now we have Verdi’s famous Nabucco, starring Plácido Domingo, from this weekend.

Screenings at Umhlanga’s Cinema Nouveau and others countrywide, have been scheduled for 5pm Saturday (February 4), 2.30pm Sunday (February 5) and 11.30am on Tuesday (February 7) and 6pm on February 14.

The opera is under the baton of Domingo’s longtime collaborator and Met music director Emeritus James Levine. This legendary duo has worked together many times over the past four decades, but this is the first time the pair are working together on Nabucco.

Liudmyla Monastyrska appears as Nabucco’s alleged daughter, the ambitious Abigaille, who is determined to seize control of the Babylonian empire.

The cast also includes Jamie Barton as the heroic Fenena, Nabucco’s heroic daughter; Russell Thomass as Ismaele, nephew to the King of Jerusalem; and Dmitry Belosselskiy is the stentorian voice of the high priest of the oppressed Hebrew people, Zaccaria.

The cinema transmission of Nabucco offers exclusive backstage content and behind-scenes interviews. Hosted by bass-baritone Eric Owens, this opera’s intermission features an interview with both Domingo and Levin, as well as the opera’s director Bartlett Sher and conductor Gianandrea Noseda.

The running time of Nabucco is two hours 44 minutes, and includes one intermission. Catch the trailer by clicking here here

Also due on screen this month, from February 11, is Charles Gounod’s lush adaptation of Shakespeare’s Roméo et Juliette that includes a screening at 11.30am on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

Hailed by the New York Times for singing “with white-hot sensuality and impassioned lyricism,” Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo star as the tragic star-crossed lovers in this adaption of Shakespeare’s classic love story.

The production is directed by Bartlett Sher, with Gianandrea Noseda conducting.

The cast also includes Virginie Verrez as Stéphano, Elliot Madore as Mercutio and Mikhail Petrenko as Frère Laurent.

Vittorio Grigolo as Roméo and Diana Damrau as Juliette in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. Picture by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.

Sher’s staging of Roméo et Juliette is a co-production with La Scala, and was initially presented at the Salzburg Festival in 2008. It features set design by Michael Yeargan, costume design by Catherine Zuber, lighting design by Jennifer Tipton, choreography by Chase Brock in his Met debut and fight direction by B H Barry.

The intermission backstage content, hosted by soprano Ailyn Pérez, includes interviews with Grigolo and Damrau, as well as with conductor Noseda, director Sher, costume designer Zube, and set designer Yeargan.

The running time of Roméo et Juliette is three hours 20 minutes, including an interval. Screening times are scheduled for 5pm on February 11, 2.30pm on February 12, 11.30am on February 14 and 22, and 6pm on February 21.

The next productions in the series are Rusalka by Antonin Dvorak (opens March 25), Verdi’s favourite La Traviata  (April 8), Idomeneo by Wolfang Amadeus Mozart (April 24), Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (May 20), and finally, Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier (June 10).

Now in its 11th year, The Met: Live in HD series is screened in cinemas around the world, including exclusive releases at Nouveau and select Ster-Kinekor cinemas in South Africa.

These grand operas, filmed at the iconic Metropolitan Opera House, feature some of the world’s most talented singers, conductors, composers, orchestra musicians, stage directors, designers, visual artists, choreographers and dancers.

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