Regarding Anne Midgette’s July 17 Arts & Style essay, “Yes, but is it opera?”:
Over the years I have been fortunate to hear grand opera performed at most of the major opera houses in the United States and abroad. There is no question that it is a superb experience. That said, I must state resoundingly that yes, high-definition screenings of performances are opera.
As viewers in a movie theater, we know that we are part of a vast audience just like those actually in the Metropolitan Opera House. The energy there transmits to us in exactly the same way. We may miss a full-stage view but we have a prime seat to experience fabulous performances.
The artists have an in-person audience, and they get energy moving back and forth from them. And the movie theater audience gets energy from the artists and the in-person audience. We often find ourselves applauding right along with the Met audience, being just as dazzled by a fine performance and leaving the theater caught up in the thrill of what we have witnessed. It is opera!
If Francesca Zambello, artistic director of the Washington National Opera, finds that it “has drastically eaten into our [WNO] business,” she might well look at her selection of operas for the WNO over the past few seasons. I have been a subscriber to the WNO since the late 1960s and finally determined this year that enough was enough. I was not hearing operas that I cared about, and in many cases they featured less-than-first-rate artists.
Finally, for the listener, there is a vast financial difference between the live and the recorded performances.
John Peters Irelan, Washington