Met Live in HD in Pittsburgh: Berg's "Lulu"

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

I suspect that fewer Pittsburghers attend the Met Live in HD broadcasts than should attend the Met Live in HD broadcasts.

The series, now in its 10th season, brings live transmissions of Metropolitan Opera productions to cinemas throughout the world, including four theaters in the Pittsburgh area. The broadcasts generally take place on Saturday afternoons, with encore presentations the following Wednesday.

Between the strong casts, the big-budget productions and the quality of the broadcasts themselves, the opportunity to experience these live Met productions is enticing. While many of the works are chestnuts, Live in HD also provides the chance to see operas that probably won't appear in Pittsburgh anytime soon, such as Saturday's transmission of "Lulu," by Alban Berg.

The goal of the program is to build new opera audiences. But I have a hunch that plenty of the audience members already are opera buffs, because it takes a certain level of operatic fandom to know that these simulcasts even exist.

If my hunch is right, that's too bad, because there are aspects of the transmissions that would appeal to opera newbies. Each production has a host, who interviews members of the cast, the director and others about the opera's characters and music. 

A scene from Berg's "Lulu." Photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.A scene from Berg's "Lulu." Photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.

During the intermissions, host Deborah Voight interviewed Marlis Petersen, Susan Graham, conductor Lothar Koenigs (who replaced music director James Levine on the podium) and others. Met general manager Peter Gelb interviewed South African artist William Kentridge, who directed the imaginative production full of animated paper, India ink and unapologetic projections. (Full disclosure: I provided musical accompaniment for Mr. Kentridge during a lecture he gave at my college.) Ms. Petersen, the German soprano, is retiring from "Lulu" after 10 productions in 18 years, and it was clear that she is leaving the title role while still on top of it.

Marlis Petersen in the title role and Daniel Brenna as Alwa in Berg's "Lulu." Photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.Marlis Petersen in the title role and Daniel Brenna as Alwa in Berg's "Lulu." Photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.

There are plenty of HD productions left this season, including a repeat of "Lulu" at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2 and a holiday encore of "The Magic Flute" on Dec. 12. Tickets are $23, $21 for seniors, $16 for students. Enjoy!


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