The initiative, announced this past summer, is a joint venture between Glyndebourne and the British arm of Odeon cinemas, with an opera presented on the last Thursday of each month at two theaters in greater London, seven elsewhere in England and one in the Welsh capital, Cardiff.
The performances are not simulcast live, as the Metropolitan Opera's popular Saturday movie theater presentations are; they were recorded during Glyndebourne's summer season, using the same facilities used to make the festival's DVD releases. In fact, the Cesare on offer at cinemas this month is the DVD — a recording, available on Opus Arte, of David McVicar's 2005 staging with Sarah Connolly in the title role and William Christie on the podium.
September's Glyndebourne/Odeon presentation was Mozart's Così fan tutte, also from the commercially available DVD on Opus Arte, recorded at the 2006 festival. October's (screened last Thursday, the 25th) was Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, in this summer's revival of the Nikolaus Lehnhoff production starring Nina Stemme, Robert Gambill, Katarina Karn_us and Ren_ Pape.
Tickets to all of the Glyndebourne/Odeon opera presentations are £7.50. (The UK retail price for Glyndebourne/Opus Arte DVDs runs between £25 and £35.)
While no further presentations have yet been scheduled, Glyndebourne Festival management did indicate last summer that the program would be extended if the first three operas-on-screen were sufficiently successful. No attendance or revenue figures have yet been released — though it may be telling that the Covent Garden Odeon cinema (very near the Royal Opera House) had to schedule an extra screening of Tristan in order to accommodate demand.
Meanwhile, speaking of Giulio Cesare ... the very David McVicar production being shown on screen in Britain in four weeks' time opens live tonight at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Even the Cleopatra is the same: Danielle de Niese, whose performance in the role when the production debuted in 2005 made her a star and led a critic for The Times of London to call her an "all-singing, all-dancing superstar sex bomb." If you can't be at the Civic Opera House tonight, you can listen in at www.wfmt.com beginning at 6:15 p.m. US Central time.