Going to watch the Metropolitan Opera in New York City may seem like a far reach for Wilmington residents, but the University of North Carolina Wilmington and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) have brought the opera experience to the coast of North Carolina.
Since 2009, UNCW has presented real-time broadcasts of The Met: Live in HD in its Lumina Theatre.
The scenes are ornate, the costumes are extravagant and the music is spellbinding. Every aspect of the opera comes to life with vivid high definition pictures and a state of the art sound system.
"It is a great way to try [the opera] because it is subtitled and you get to see it so up close," said OLLI program coordinator Amy Keith. "What you are seeing is the talent of the world class performers and what they can do with their voices."
The Met: Live in HD is broadcast to more than 700 locations in the United States and 1,600 theatres in 51 countries. In 2010-2011, more than 2.6 million tickets were purchased.
"Another thing that is really appealing to the audience is when they get there they know they are part of a global experience," Keith said. Broadcasts reach across the globe from Utah to Israel to South Africa, all of which are simultaneously experiencing the performance in real time.
During intermission, the broadcast takes the audience backstage for an exclusive look at the production. There are interviews with the stars and stagehands as well as an up close look at set designs and costumes. It is an experience that is not available even to those that pay top dollar for seats at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
"There is an added educational aspect to it that people love and that helps the new opera goer, too," Keith said. "Having it explained and subtitled is helpful and then you can just lose yourself in the beauty of the music."
To see the Metropolitan Opera in New York, tickets can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Fortunately, The Met: Live in HD offers the same cultural experience for a fraction of the cost.
The 2011-2012 season is already underway, but there is still time to experience the opera programming. The next broadcast on Jan. 21 will feature a new opera entitled "Enchanted Island." The performance will be a combination of operas rewritten to the story line of William Shakespeare’s "The Tempest" and "A Midsummer Nights Dream."
Student tickets are $15, OLLI member tickets are $20 and general admission is $30. There are also discounts for season tickets which may be purchased online at www.uncw.edu/metopera or by phone at 910-962-3195.
OLLI at UNCW sponsors the programming. OLLI provides lifelong learning opportunities for adults age 50 and older.