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Performing Arts

The MET Live in HD returns to Fort Lewis College

The new David McVicar production of Cherubini’s “Medea” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City with bass Michele Pertusi as King Creonte will be shown in Durango. (Courtesy Met Opera)
Operatic tales of love, loss and vengeance

After an unfortunate hiatus, The MET Live in HD returns to Durango on Oct. 22 in the Student Union at Fort Lewis College. The company will livestream the matinee performance of “Medea,” by Luigi Cherubini, at 10:55 a.m. from the Metropolitan Opera stage in New York City.

“COVID threw a wrench into things,” said Charles Leslie, director of the Community Concert Hall at FLC. “After the interruption shut down of both the Metropolitan Opera and the Concert Hall due to the pandemic, Fort Lewis College welcomes back The Met Live in HD.”

Sondra Radvanovsky stars in the title role of Cherubini’s “Medea,” which will be livestreamed Oct. 22 at Fort Lewis College. (Courtesy of Met Opera)

Last year, COVID-19 and contract snafus prevented FLC from transmitting the award-winning program. Local, vocal opera fans made it known the international, livestreamed program was important: Bring it back. Leslie made it happen.

Now in its 16th year, The MET Live in HD will feature 10 performances transmitted from the Met stage in high-definition cinema simulcasts into the comfortable Vallecito Room at the college. Season subscriptions and single tickets are available through www.durangoconcerts.com.

“Medea,” Cherubini’s searing tragedy opens the program as it opened the Met’s season last Sept. 27. Reviews praised the Met premiere, and commented on both its “savage drama” and powerful Maria Callas legacy. The New York Times’ Zachary Woolfe noted Medea’s late entrance, 40 minutes in, as “the ultimate wedding crasher.”

In fact, Cherubini’s 1797 opera begins with a wedding – not Medea’s. She’s the scorned woman out for revenge, and her fickle husband’s second marriage is the cause of her murderous rage.

Some backstory helps: Medea is the crazy woman from Greek mythology who links up with Jason, the handsome Argonaut man-hero. Embittered by his half-brother stealing his kingdom, Jason (Giasone in the Italian-language opera) vows revenge by stealing the Golden Fleece to return home in triumph. On his travels, he meets Medea, a princess known to be obsessive about everything, especially everything Jason. She helps him steal the magical fleece by removing (murdering) obstacles, such as her brother and uncle. When Medea, Jason and their two children eventually arrive in Corinth, he abandons them for a better deal – a beautiful, politically advantaged princess. Medea’s anger boils over, and that’s where Cherubini’s version begins – at a Corinthian court wedding. Be prepared for a lot of destruction, misery and blood when Medea unleashes her fury.

The Italian-born composer migrated to Paris primarily for a pedagogical career. His French-language “Médée” premiered 1797, inspired by the original Greek myth, Euripides’ play, which introduced the idea of murdered children, and Pierre Corneille’s tragedy. At first, the opera had trouble finding an audience. Cherubini excised spoken dialogue, a French preference, and translated the whole into Italian. “Medea” still languished. Then in the 20th century, Maria Callas resuscitated the opera and made it her signature. Her ghost hovers over every production.

If you go

WHAT: The MET Live in HD, 10 operas transmitted live Oct. 22 through May 9.

WHEN: 10:55 a.m. Saturdays.

WHERE: Vallecito Room, Fort Lewis College Student Union, 1000 Rim Drive.

ADMISSION: 10-opera subscription $224.00; individual tickets: adults $28, seniors $25, $24 Met member, $12 students.

MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.metopera.org and www.durangoconcerts.com or call 247-7657.

Here's the 2022-23 schedule for The MET Live in HD:

  • Cherubini’s “Medea,” 10:55 a.m. Oct. 22. Sondra Radvanovsky stars as the woman who will stop at nothing in her quest for vengeance in Sir David McVicar’s late-18th century European setting of a classic Greek myth.
  • Verdi’s “La Traviata,” 10:55 a.m. Nov. 5. Soprano Nadine Sierra stars as the self-sacrificing courtesan Violetta – one of opera’s ultimate heroines – in Michael Mayer’s production of Verdi’s tragedy. Tenor Stephen Costello is her self-centered lover, Alfredo, alongside baritone Luca Salsi as his disapproving father.
  • Kevin Puts’ “The Hours,” 10:55 a.m. Dec. 10. Soprano Renée Fleming returns to the Met in the world-premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Puts’ “ The Hours,” adapted from Michael Cunningham’s novel.
  • Giordano’s “Fedora,” 10:55 a.m. Jan. 14. Umberto Giordano’s exhilarating drama returns to the Met repertory for the first time in 25 years. A 19th century princess (Sonya Yoncheva) falls in love with her fiance’s murderer, in another stunning McVicar production set in St. Petersburg, Paris and a villa in the Swiss Alps.
  • Wagner’s “Lohengrin,” 10:55 a.m. March 18. Wagner’s masterpiece returns to the Met after 17 years. Tenor Piotr Beczala sings the title role of the swan knight with three sopranos noodling around as virtuous, cunning or villainous women and a power-hungry husband in the background.
  • Verdi’s “Falstaff,” 10:55 a.m. April 1. Baritone Michael Volle stars as the caddish knight Falstaff, tormented by a trio of clever women who deliver comeuppance to the jolly old fellow, in Verdi’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s comic figure.
  • Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, 10:55 a.m. April 15. A dream cast with soprano Lise Davidsen and mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard as the Marschallin and Octavian gets together for Strauss’ grand Viennese comedy.
  • Terence Blanchard/libretto by Michael Cristofer’s “Champion,” 10:55 a.m. April 29. Grammy Award-winning composer Blanchard opened the 2021 Met season with “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.” This season, Blanchard brings “Champion,” with bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green and Eric Owens as the younger and older American boxer Emile Griffith.
  • Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” 10:55 a.m. May 20. Tony Award-winning director Ivo van Hove makes his Met debut with a new take on Mozart’s tragic comedy about deceit and damnation. Nathalie Stutzmann debuts as conductor with a cast led by baritone Peter Mattei and his sidekick bass-baritone Adam Plachetka as Leporello.
  • Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte,” 10:55 a.m. June 3. Stutzmann also conducts this Mozartean gem in a new staging by English director Simon McBurney, who will incorporate projections, sound effects and acrobatics to enhance the endearing fable of a magic flute and magical lovers.
The MET Live in HD – Durango

Fifteen years ago, the Metropolitan Opera Co. introduced movie-theater screenings of matinee performances for audiences around the world. Durango joined The MET Live in HD first at Stadium 9 cinema. A few years into the program, a small group of opera lovers lobbied to move it to Fort Lewis College. From the outset, the Met preferred movie theaters to build audiences.

In 2012, a small brigade of opera fans met with Charles Leslie, then managing director of the Community Concert Hall at FLC, to move The Met Live in HD to the college. Leslie supported the effort and outlined steps needed to make the transfer. The group included Jim Foster, this journalist, the late Ann Flatten and the late Sandy Max. Leslie developed a plan starting with negotiating a new Met contract along with upgrading FLC streaming technology, then enhancing the Vallecito Room to be a quasi-movie theater with blackout curtains.

The local effort worked. The Met finally agreed to the changes and signed new contracts. Since 2012, local opera audiences have grown from fewer than 30 at Stadium 9 to an average or more than 100 for the Saturday-morning performances today. Popular operas like “Carmen” or “Butterfly” sell out at over 130 seats.

Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.