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The Met: Live in HD series expands to 1500 theaters and 46 countries with addition of Egypt, Portugal and Spain

Met’s Fifth Season as World’s Largest Provider of Alternative Cinema Content to Movie Theaters Begins on October 9 with New Production of Das Rheingold

New York, NY (August 30, 2010) –The Met: Live in HD, the Metropolitan Opera’s Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series of live performance transmissions into movie theaters around the world, will expand in its fifth season to 1500 theaters (an increase of 300 theaters), while adding Egypt, Portugal, and Spain to its network of now 46 participating countries. Its new season will also feature 12 live transmissions, the most so far in a single season, beginning on October 9th with the Met’s new production of Das Rheingold, directed by Robert Lepage and conducted by James Levine.

During the previous 2009-10 season, a record-breaking number of more than 2.4 million Live in HD tickets were sold worldwide for nine transmissions, effectively tripling the Met’s paying audience (approximately 800,000 people attend performances in the opera house in a Met season).

By adding three transmissions this season, as well as the 300 additional theaters to its global network, the Met expects to break all of its previous attendance records. One hundred of the additional theaters are being added in the U.S, making the total number of U.S. theaters 620 this season. In the U.S. and Canada where the transmissions are shown in multiplexes, it is not unusual for an additional 100-200 screens to be added depending on advance sales. The countries with the biggest increase of theaters include Canada, adding 35 theaters; Germany, with an increase of more than 60 theaters; and the United Kingdom adding 30 theaters.

“Our live transmissions have made grand opera more accessible and popular,” said Peter Gelb, the Met’s General Manager and the Executive Producer of the live transmissions. “They have helped to make it possible for opera to continue to flourish in a difficult economic time.”

The Met’s nine transmissions sold $48 million dollars of tickets at the box office last season, with the Met receiving 50% of the gross box office revenues.

Since its launch in the 2006-07 season, The Met: Live in HD has continually expanded, with dozens of countries and new venues joining the HD network each season. The inaugural live HD transmission, of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, took place in December 2006 and was seen in 56 theaters in four countries. The remarkable expansion from 4 to 46 countries in only four years has been driven by public demand. The Met: Live in HD uses on-screen subtitles for all transmissions, in seven languages including English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese and Korean.

The transmissions use up to six different satellites and the operas can be seen live in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, and Europe, where the starting time of the operas is usually 1pm ET in New York. In Asia, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, where the time difference is too great, the HD productions are shown on a delayed basis.

The season begins on Saturday, October 9 at 1pm ET with the new production of Das Rheingold, the first of the season’s two installments of Wagner’s epic Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelungs), starring Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel in his first American appearance as Wotan. The production, under the direction of Robert Lepage, will be conducted by Met Music Director James Levine, and features Stephanie Blythe and Eric Owens in other leading roles. The Ring’s second installment, Die Walküre, will close the Live in HD season on May 14, with Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde and Jonas Kaufmann as Siegmund – both in Met role debuts; Terfel will once again play Wotan.

In addition to Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, the upcoming season of Live in HD features four other new productions: Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov (October 23) starring René Pape, directed by Stephen Wadsworth and conducted by Valery Gergiev; Verdi’s Don Carlo (December 11) with Roberto Alagna in the title role, under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin and directed by Nicholas Hytner; John Adams’s Nixon in China (February 12), with Adams conducting his own work, directed by Peter Sellars, and starring James Maddalena as Nixon; and Bartlett Sher’s new production of Rossini’s Le Comte Ory (April 9), starring Juan Diego Flórez and conducted by Maurizio Benini.

Maestro Levine will conduct two other revivals in the series: Donizetti’s comedy Don Pasquale (November 13) starring Anna Netrebko as Norina and Verdi’s Il Trovatore (April 30), with Sondra Radvanovsky and Marcelo Álvarez. Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West (January 8), starring Deborah Voigt in the title role, Marcello Giordani as Dick Johnson, and conducted by Nicola Luisotti, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the opera’s world premiere at the Met. The Met: Live in HD series also includes three of the world’s best-known singers in highly acclaimed roles from recent seasons: Susan Graham and Plácido Domingo in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride (February 26); Natalie Dessay as the mad heroine in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (March 19). Renée Fleming sings the Countess in Strauss’s Capriccio, adding a new role to her Met repertory (April 23). Patrick Summers conducts both Iphigénie en Tauride and Lucia di Lammermoor, and Andrew Davis leads Capriccio. Casting and details of the season’s Live in HD performances follow below.

All 12 high-definition productions will be shown live worldwide on Saturdays through May 14, with most encore presentations in the United States shown on Wednesdays, 18 days following the live exhibition.

The Live in HD series was honored with a prestigious 2008 Peabody Award for its “vividly designed, smartly annotated productions of Hansel and Gretel, Doctor Atomic, Peter Grimes and other operas. The Met used state-of-the-art digital technology to reinvent presentation of a classic art form.”

The Met won a special Emmy Award in January 2009 for “advancing technology through ongoing, live, global transmission of high-definition programming to movie theaters.”

The Met: Live in HD series is made possible by a generous grant from the Neubauer Family Foundation. Bloomberg L.P. is the global corporate sponsor of The Met: Live in HD. The HD broadcasts are supported by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder.

The Met: Live in HD 2010-11 Season

Saturday, October 9, 2010 DAS RHEINGOLD (1pm ET) – Two unparalleled artists join forces to create a groundbreaking new Ring for the Met: Maestro James Levine and director Robert Lepage. Bryn Terfel, singing his first Met Wotan, leads the cast in Das Rheingold, the Ring’s first installment. NEW PRODUCTION

Saturday, October 23, 2010 BORIS GODUNOV (12pm ET) – Bass René Pape takes on one of opera’s most dramatic roles in a production by Stephen Wadsworth. Valery Gergiev conducts Mussorgsky’s tragic historical epic. Aleksandrs Antonenko and Ekaterina Semenchuk are among the other leading artists in a work that is also a showcase for the Met’s formidable chorus. NEW PRODUCTION

Saturday, November 13, 2010 DON PASQUALE (1pm ET)Anna Netrebko sings Norina, the role that made her a Met star, in this comedy by Donizetti, with Matthew Polenzani as Ernesto, Mariusz Kwiecien as Dr. Malatesta, and John Del Carlo in the title role. James Levine conducts the opera for the first time.

Saturday, December 11, 2010 DON CARLO (12:30pm ET) – Director Nicholas Hytner makes his Met debut with this new production of Verdi’s most ambitious opera. Roberto Alagna sings the title role, joined by Marina Poplavskaya as Elisabeth de Valois, Anna Smirnova as Princess Eboli, Simon Keenlyside as Rodrigo, and Ferruccio Furlanetto as Philip II. Yannick Nézet-Séguin, back after his triumphant Met debut leading Carmen, conducts. NEW PRODUCTION

Saturday, January 8, 2011 LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST (1pm ET) – Puccini’s wild west opera stars all-American diva Deborah Voigt as Minnie and Marcello Giordani as Dick Johnson, under the baton of Nicola Luisotti. Lucio Gallo takes the role of the Sheriff Jack Rance. The performances mark the 100th anniversary of the opera’s world premiere at the Met.

Saturday, February 12, 2011 NIXON IN CHINA (1pm ET) John Adams’s acclaimed first opera has its Met premiere, in a staging by longtime Adams collaborator Peter Sellars. Kathleen Kim is Chiang Ch’ing, Janis Kelly sings Pat Nixon, and James Maddalena reprises his acclaimed portrayal of the U.S. president, a role he created in the 1987 world premiere. Adams conducts.

Saturday, February 26, 2011 IPHIGÉNIE EN TAURIDE (1pm ET)Susan Graham sings the title role in Gluck’s masterful interpretation of the Greek myth, opposite Plácido Domingo as her brother Oreste and Paul Groves as his friend Pylade. Patrick Summers conducts.

Saturday, March 19, 2011 LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR (1pm ET)Natalie Dessay returns to her triumphant portrayal of Donizetti’s fragile heroine in the Met’s hit production, with Joseph Calleja as her lover Edgardo and Ludovic Tézier as her scheming brother, Enrico. Patrick Summers conducts.

Saturday, April 9, 2011 LE COMTE ORY (1pm ET) – NEW PRODUCTION Rossini’s vocally dazzling comedy soars with bel canto sensation Juan Diego Flórez in the title role. He vies with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, in the trouser role of Isolier, for the love of the lonely Countess Adèle, sung by soprano Diana Damrau. Bartlett Sher, director of the Met’s popular productions of Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Les Contes d’Hoffmann, stages this Met premiere production. Maurizio Benini conducts.

Saturday, April 23, 2011 CAPRICCIO (1pm ET) Renée Fleming dazzled audiences when she sang Capriccio’s final scene on Opening Night of the 2008–09 season. Now she sings Strauss’s entire diva showcase in John Cox’s production, with Andrew Davis conducting.

Saturday, April 30, 2011 IL TROVATORE (1pm ET) David McVicar’s popular production returns with Marcelo Álvarez as the heroic troubadour of the title, with Dmitri Hvorostovsky as his powerful rival and Sondra Radvanovsky as the noble Leonora. Dolora Zajick reprises her interpretation of Azucena, the gypsy fixated on past crimes and vengeance. James Levine conducts.

Saturday, May 14, 2011 DIE WALKÜRE (12pm ET) – NEW PRODUCTION The second installment of Robert Lepage’s new production of Wagner’s Ring cycle, conducted by James Levine, features Bryn Terfel as Wotan, while Deborah Voigt adds the part of Brünnhilde to her extensive Wagnerian repertoire at the Met. Jonas Kaufmann and Eva-Maria Westbroek star as the Volsung twins, Siegmund and Sieglinde, and Stephanie Blythe is Fricka.