Fort Lewis College entertains idea of having MET Opera

The saga of opera in Durango sputters on.

The good news: We’re somewhere between an overture and Act I.

The bad news: The tentative start date for Allen Theatres’ program of European opera came and went last weekend without a presentation of “Norma.” It was all very iffy.

Unofficially, Allen Theatres has touted Saturday transmissions with Wednesday evening encores. But the project remains shrouded in mystery.

On a somewhat more certain note, plans are moving forward for Fort Lewis College to host screenings of The MET: Live in HD.

Last week, at a meeting off campus, Charles Leslie, director of the Community Concert Hall at FLC, told a small group of opera fans about possible scenarios.

The inimitable community activist Ann Flatten called the meeting. She and her cohorts have been passing out petitions to get the MET Live at FLC. If you attended summer concerts, worked out at the Durango Community Recreation Center or simply went to the grocery store, you undoubtedly saw Flatten chatting with music lovers.

Leslie has been interested in the broadcasts for the last few years. Storyteller Theatres got the contract, but new owner Allen Theatres has gone elsewhere for a different set of broadcasts. So Leslie has been pursuing a new MET contract.

When and if the arrangements are formalized, the details will be made public. Season passes as well as individual tickets would be for sale at the downtown box office – if all of this goes through.

The venue? Probably the Vallecito Room in the FLC Student Union. It’s a comfortable space where movies are shown. It can be set up for about 100 people, and the technology is close to being what’s required. It would be fun to see MET matinees in the concert hall, but it’s too big, at least for the present. Parking on campus would be free.

The Live in HD season opens Oct. 13 with Donizetti’s “L’elisir d’amore.” It’s a new production of a comic masterpiece. Anna Netrebko, the stunning Russian soprano, stars as the mercurial, fickle Adina. Everybody’s favorite young baritone, Mauriusz Kwiecien, sings the flustered Sergeant Belcore.

The full schedule is online at www.metoperafamily.org.

This is the seventh season the Met has presented Live in HD performances. It all started in 2006 when 325,000 people saw six Met matinees in the comfort of movie theaters across America. Digital technology and satellite transmission have made it possible to expand the program worldwide. During the second season, eight operas drew just fewer than a million people in 17 countries.

By the fifth year, close to three million people attended. Last year, the sixth season continued to expand around the world. Broadcasts were seen in more than 54 countries.

Durango got on board two years ago. Starting with a small group of about three dozen hardcore opera fans, the numbers grew until audiences averaged more than 100. At the time, TheDurangoHerald was told the movie theater had to break 100 to sustain the program. That happened.

Armed with all that information, Ann Flatten and company urged Charles Leslie to take up the torch again. Another MET: Live in HD season may just be around the corner.

Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic. Reach her at jreynolds@durangoherald.com.

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