Metropolitan Opera Live in HD

Metropolitan Opera Live in HD (also known as The Met: Live in HD and Great Performances at the Met) is a series of live opera performances transmitted in high-definition video via satellite from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City to select venues, primarily movie theaters, in the United States and other parts of the world. The first transmission was of a condensed English-language version of Mozart's The Magic Flute on December 30, 2006. Most of the video recordings are later made available for streaming at Met Opera on Demand.


To transmit the series via satellite simulcast in the US and Canada, the Met has partnered with Fathom Events. The series is broadcast to AMC Theatres, Cinemark, Cineplex Entertainment, Regal Entertainment Group (Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards), Goodrich, Kerasotes, Marcus and National Amusements movie theaters as well as a series of independent venues such as arts centers and college campuses. Its aims include building a larger audience for the Met and garnering excitement for arts at a local level.

The original idea for presenting operas in this way came from the new incoming general manager of the Met, Peter Gelb in late 2006. Exhibiting the Met's performances in digital movie theaters is in line with other audience-expanding efforts by the Met such as radio broadcasts on Sirius Radio, iPod downloads, live streaming video on the Met website, and free opening night screenings in Times Square and at Lincoln Center. The Met is also sponsoring free HD broadcasts into selected New York City public schools.[1]

The simulcasts allow more people to experience the excitement of the Met's high-quality performance offerings. This audience includes current opera fans unable to get to New York City to see the shows in person and potential opera fans looking for an easy, affordable method of checking out a new art form.

Tom Galley, chief operations and technology officer of National CineMedia, describes the experience by saying:

This Metropolitan Opera series is a unique opportunity for people to experience world-class opera in their local community, plus the movie theatre environment and affordable ticket price make these events something that the entire family can enjoy. If you’ve never had the pleasure of attending a live opera performance before, this is the perfect opportunity to see why this magical art form has captured audiences’ imaginations for generations.[2]

In the US, the series has also been broadcast in both high definition and regular TV as part of the Public Broadcasting Service's Great Performances series under the title Great Performances at the Met. In addition, selected performances can now be viewed online.[3]

International expansion

The first season included seven theatres in Britain, two in Japan and one in Norway. After its successful launch, several other countries joined for the second season and 100 screens were added, selling an additional 20,000 tickets.[citation needed] These included cinemas in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

2008 saw the network expand even further to include more screens in the countries named above plus other countries such as Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Argentina (Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata),[4] and Poland, as well as the territory of Puerto Rico.[5]

Reaction in the British press has been positive:

...opera is, in fact, managing to find new audiences, all over the world. Down at the Ritzy, my local cinema in Brixton, London, I've been able, since December, to see live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera in New York...[6]

The author Peter Conrad, praised Gelb's showmanship:

The relays are the brainchild of the Met's new general manager, Peter Gelb, or one of his innumerable brainchildren, part of a campaign both to rejuvenate the Met's audience in New York and to welcome what he calls 'the global opera community' into the fold. When I met Gelb in New York last week, I told him I'd decided that seeing The Barber in Clapham (just south of central London) was actually better than being at the Met. 'Oh no, that's bad,' he groaned. 'We must be doing too good a job.[7]


As of 2011 six Metropolitan Opera employees work full-time on Live in HD. About 40 people work on the technical aspects of each broadcast, with one comparing the scale of the logistics to the preshow coverage of the Emmy or Academy Awards. Host Renée Fleming volunteers her services. No same-day substitution of a major cast member for a Live in HD performance was necessary until January 2010, perhaps because of the appeal of performing for a worldwide audience and the opportunity to appear on the subsequent DVD of the broadcast.[8]


Movie and radio broadcast revenue increased for the Met from about $5 million in 2006, Live in HD's first year, to $22 million in 2008, with Live in HD contributing the bulk of the growth.[8] For the 2009/10 season, the Met spent about $12 million in production and received about half of the $47 million box-office gross. After paying royalties to its cast and crew, the Met earned a $8 million profit.[9] The Met's Live in HD revenue for the 2012/13 season was $34.5 million.[10]

According to a 2008 study commissioned by Opera America, most Live in HD attendees were "moderate and frequent opera goers". About one in five, however, did not attend a live opera performance in the previous two years, with some being completely new to opera and attending because of curiosity about it. The majority claimed to equally enjoy broadcast and live opera, and more than half stated they would "very likely" attend an opera performance at the Met if visiting New York.[11] A 2011 University of British Columbia thesis found that "Live in HD does not at present cannibalize the local live opera audience ... [but] There is no evidence that [it] generates more live opera attendance or brings new audiences into local opera houses".[12]

A report outlines the economics of the Met's 2013—2014 season:

Last season, 10 operas were transmitted via satellite into at least 2,000 theaters in 66 countries, including more than 800 U.S. theaters. Box office hit $60 million worldwide (average ticket prices were $23 last season), with theater owners splitting sales 50–50 with the Met (insiders say the split is more advantageous to the Met in North America) and Fathom taking a small percentage as well.[13]

Vladica and Davis have utilised Q methodology to analyse audience reactions and judgments of entertainment value with respect to this series, and related cultural events transmitted to cinemas.[14]



Beginning on December 30, 2006, as part of the company's effort to build revenues and attract new audiences, the Met broadcast a series of six performances live via satellite into movie theaters.[15] The series was carried in over 100 movie theaters across North America plus others in Britain, Japan and one in Norway.[16] It included:

In addition, limited repeat showings of the operas were offered in most of the presenting cities. Within the US, digital sound for the performances was provided by Sirius Satellite Radio.

These movie transmissions were successful at the box office as well as having received wide and generally favorable press coverage.[19] The Met reports that 91% of available seats were sold for the HD performances.[20] According to General Manager Peter Gelb, there were 60,000 people in cinemas around the world watching the March 24 transmission of The Barber of Seville.[21] The New York Times reported that 324,000 tickets were sold worldwide for the 2006–07 season, while each simulcast cost $850,000 to $1 million to produce.[22]


Due to the success of the first season, the Metropolitan Opera decided to increase the number of HD broadcasts to movie theaters from six to eight during the 2007–2008 season. Further, the number of available theaters expanded to 330 across the US and additional countries throughout the world.

The first showing on December 15, 2007, Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, was seen on 477 screens and sold an estimated 97,000 tickets. The series continued by featuring seven more of the Met's productions following Roméo et Juliette and ending with La fille du régiment on April 26, 2008.[23]

The Met planned to broadcast to double the number of theaters in the US compared with the previous season, as well as to additional countries. The number of participating venues in the US, which includes movie theatre chains as well as independent theatres and some college campus venues, was 343.[22][24] While "the scope of the series expands to include more than 700 locations across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.... The Met has said that it hopes to reach as many as one million audience members with this season's HD transmissions"[25]

The schedule of live broadcasts included:

By the end of the season, 920,000 people—exceeding the total number of people who attended live performances at the Met over the entire season—attended the 8 screenings bringing in a gross of $13.3 million from North America and $5 million from overseas.[26]


The HD season for 2008–2009 included 11 productions, including the Opening Night Gala on September 22, 2008, (broadcast in North America only).

As of February 2009, over 1.1 million tickets to HD broadcasts had been sold.







The 2014–2015 season presented 12 operas in 10 HD transmissions, including (for the first time in the series) two "double-bills" where two short operas were staged together on the same program.[27] John Adams's Death of Klinghoffer was originally planned for an HD transmission but was replaced by Il barbiere di Siviglia due to controversy after the work was accused of being anti-Semitic.[28]



The 2016-2017 season included the presentation of the first opera by a female composer in the series, L'Amour de loin of Kaija Saariaho, which also marked the first opera in the series to feature a female conductor, Susanna Mälkki. The presentation of Der Rosenkavalier marked the final performances in their respective roles by Renée Fleming (the Marschallin) and Elīna Garanča (Octavian).[30][31]





  1. ^ "Metropolitan Opera to Offer Hi-Def Simulcasts in NYC Public Schools" Playbill.com, December 12, 2007
  2. ^ “'Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD' Now Playing at a Theater Near You," press release, November 15, 2006
  3. ^ "Operas from The Met" Archived 2009-10-03 at the Wayback Machine ClassicalTV
  4. ^ Fundacion Beethoven, The Met HD en Vivo Buenos Aires
  5. ^ "The Metropolitan Opera Announces Expansion of Live, High-Definition Transmissions to Eleven in 2008/09" press release, April 22, 2008
  6. ^ Tom Service, "Give me divas – not DJs", The Guardian (London), March 22, 2008
  7. ^ Peter Conrad, "Opera from New York in your home town? Easy. Just go to the pictures", The Guardian (London), April 22, 2007
  8. ^ a b Steichen, James (Autumn 2011). "HD Opera: A Love/Hate Story". The Opera Quarterly. 27 (4): 443–459. doi:10.1093/oq/kbs030.
  9. ^ Adair, Marcia (2010-10-08). "The Metropolitan Opera's live movie screenings turn 5, despite early skepticism". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
  10. ^ Maloney, Jennifer (2014-01-28). "Met Opera's Budget Falls Short". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  11. ^ "The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD: Who Attends, and Why?" (PDF). Opera America. Fall 2008. pp. 39–44. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 2, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  12. ^ "The Impact of The Met: Live in HD on Local Opera Attendance" (PDF). Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of British Columbia. April 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  13. ^ Pamela McClintock, "Met Opera Standoff Threatens $60 Million Theater Business", The Hollywood Reporter (online), August 7, 2014 on hollywoodreporter.com
  14. ^ "Value propositions of opera and theater live in cinema" (PDF). Ryerson University / World Media Economics & Management Conference, Thessaloniki, Greece, 23–27 May 2012. 23–27 May 2012. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  15. ^ "Tickets for Metropolitan Opera's High-Definition Movie Theater Simulcasts to Go on Sale 11/18". Opera News Online, November 16, 2006.
  16. ^ Campbell Robertson, "Mozart, Now Singing at a Theatre Near You", The New York Times, January 1, 2007
  17. ^ List of Met productions presented on HD in 2007 Archived 2010-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "Metropolitan Opera's First Simulcast of 2007–08 Breaks Attendance Records" Playbill.com, December 17, 2007.
  19. ^ Elizabeth Fitzsimmons, "Movie theaters offer opera live from the Met" Archived 2007-09-20 at the Wayback Machine, San Diego Union-Tribune, December 31, 2006
  20. ^ Richard Ouzounian, "Opera Screen Dream: Met simulcasts heat up plexes in cities, stix", Variety, March 5–11, 2007, pp. 41/42
  21. ^ Peter Gelb, speaking during the intermission on March 24, 2007, noted that over 250 movie theatres were presenting the performance that day.
  22. ^ a b Daniel Wakin, "Met Opera To Expand Simulcasts In Theaters", The New York Times, May 17, 2007
  23. ^ The Met Opera’s 2007–08 Season to Feature Seven New Productions – the Most in More than 40 Years
  24. ^ "Participating Theatres – Met Opera Live in HD Series – Live Performances", announced October 2, 2007[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ Adam Wasserman, "Changing Definitions", Opera News, December 2007, p. 60
  26. ^ Pamela McClintock, "Live perfs have Met beaming", Variety, June 11, 2008, reporting on a survey conducted by Opera America
  27. ^ 2014–15 Live in HD Schedule on metoperafamily.org. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2015-03-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. ^ "2015–16 Live in HD Schedule", on metopera.org
  30. ^ Michael Cooper (2017-05-13). "Watch Renée Fleming Take Her Final Bow in Der Rosenkavalier". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  31. ^ Merrin Lazyan (2017-05-11). "Stopping the Clocks With Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier". WQXR. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  32. ^ Replacing Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who has withdrawn from opera performances, due to balance problems resulting from treatments for a brain tumor ("Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Citing Brain Tumor, Withdraws From Opera", The New York Times, December 8, 2016.
  33. ^ Yoncheva replaces the originally scheduled soprano Kristīne Opolais, who withdrew for personal reasons. Yoncheva, who is also appearing in La bohème and Luisa Miller, will be "the first artist to take on three principal roles in HD transmissions over the course of a single season." ("Sonya Yoncheva to Replace Kristīne Opolais in Premiere Performances of Metropolitan Opera's New Tosca", Opera News, 16 June 2017])
  34. ^ Yusif Eyvazov ("CID:357274" Met Opera Archive) replaced the originally scheduled Roberto Aronica.
  35. ^ a b The American tenor Bruce Sledge sang Pinkerton, replacing on short notice the previously scheduled Andrea Carè, and the Brazilian baritone Paulo Szot sang Sharpless, replacing the previously scheduled Plácido Domingo ("CID: 357311", Met Opera Archive).

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