Another take on Met HD

After having written about the LA Phil’s upcoming experiment with broadcasting live to movie theaters and comparing it to the Met HD project, I was interested to come across another take on the whole concept from a Canadian professor of management:

Recently I attended my first Live in HD broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera’s das Rheingold….I came away from it thinking about the difference between witnessing a live production and witnessing a Live in HD broadcast. Tickets for live in HD are a lot less expensive and, at least for this production of this opera, it gives you a much closer view than any seat at a live performance. I don’t expect that Live in HD would cut into the Met’s sales, and indeed there are Live in HD presentations in New York City. (This differs from the standard practice in many sporting events of blacking out broadcasts within the immediate vicinity).

I wondered, however, if the Live in HD performances of the Met wouldn’t cut into the market for regional opera companies. I posed this question to my co-authors of Digital State at the Leading Edge, and received a detailed and thoughtful reply from Perri 6 that made 3 points. First, people go to live performances to interact with other members of the audience and for the interaction between performers and audience, the latter especially if the audience is small and the performance space intimate. Second, close-up may not be the best way of enjoying a performance. Third, while the sound in Live in HD is powerful, it is mixed and blended by the production team, and is likely different from the sound in different places in the hall. Someone may buy a particular seat in the hall because they prefer the sound as heard in that location. The general consensus of my colleagues was that the experiences are sufficiently different that the Met’s Live in HD will not kill regional opera.

About the author

Robert Levine
Robert Levine

Robert Levine has been the Principal Violist of the Milwaukee Symphony since September 1987. Before coming to Milwaukee Mr. Levine had been a member of the Orford String Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, with whom he toured extensively throughout Canada, the United States, and South America. Prior to joining the Orford Quartet, Mr. Levine had served as Principal Violist of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for six years. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, and the Oklahoma City Symphony, as well as serving as guest principal with the orchestras of Indianapolis and Hong Kong.

He has performed as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, the Midsummer Mozart Festival (San Francisco), and numerous community orchestras in Northern California and Minnesota. He has also been featured on American Public Radio's nationally broadcast show "St. Paul Sunday Morning" on several occasions.

Mr. Levine has been an active chamber musician, having performed at the Festival Rolandseck in Germany, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, the "Strings in the Mountains" Festival in Colorado, and numerous concerts in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. He has also been active in the field of new music, having commissioned and premiered works for viola and orchestra from Minnesota composers Janika Vandervelde and Libby Larsen.

Mr. Levine was chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians from 1996 to 2002 and currently serves as President of the Milwaukee Musicians Association, Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras. He has written extensively about issues concerning orchestra musicians for publications of ICSOM, the AFM, the Symphony Orchestra Institute, and the League of American Orchestras.

Mr. Levine attended Stanford University and the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland. His primary teachers were Aaron Sten and Pamela Goldsmith. He also studied with Paul Doctor, Walter Trampler, Bruno Giuranna, and David Abel.

He lives with his wife Emily and his son Sam in Glendale.

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