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Met's live-broadcast operas due for DVD release

MUSIC

July 20, 2007|Ronald Blum | Associated Press

NEW YORK — The Metropolitan Opera is getting back into the DVD business.

Five of the Met's eight live high-definition movie-theater broadcasts next season will be released on DVD by EMI Classics, the companies said. The releases include Puccini's "Manon Lescaut" with Karita Mattila, Marcello Giordani and conductor James Levine; and Verdi's "Macbeth," with Levine conducting Lado Ataneli in the title role.

It has been six years since the Met last recorded an opera that was released on DVD. Nearly four dozen operas recorded there from 1977 to 2001 were released by Universal, along with several others by Pioneer Classics.

The other operas in the new DVD crop will be Britten's "Peter Grimes" with Anthony Dean Griffey, Patricia Racette and conductor Donald Runnicles; Puccini's "La Boheme" with Angela Gheorghiu, Ramon Vargas and conductor Nicola Luisotti; and an English-language version of Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel" with Christine Schaefer, Alice Coote and conductor Vladimir Jurowski.

The Met estimates an audience of 1 million will attend its theater broadcasts next season.

"Historically, opera recordings have been less successful for record companies than solo recordings," said Met General Manager Peter Gelb, the former president of Sony Classical. "The idea is to capitalize, like with a movie release. What the Met has been able to accomplish with the transmissions into movie theaters is to create an appetite among the public, we believe, for greater sale of ancillary products like DVDs."

Griffey originally was slated to sing only the finale in a seven-performance run of "Grimes" but will take over from Neil Shicoff in the first six.

Andrea Gruber, originally announced to sing all 11 performances as Lady Macbeth in "Macbeth," is being replaced at the start of the run by Maria Guleghina, but the singer for the date of the DVD recording has not yet been set.

After the live telecast to movie theaters, the operas are broadcast about a month later on PBS. The DVDs will be released in the United States at least six months after the live date of the high-definition transmission.

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