In partnership with the digital film producer and distributor Emerging Pictures, La Scala will present five of its productions, one each month, in high-definition video and audio; one opera each from Florence's Teatro del Maggio Musicale and Venice's La Fenice are included in the series as well. All of the operas are recorded in high-definition video and digital 5.1 audio by RAI Trade, a division of Italy's state broadcasting network. The recordings are stored on and played back from special high-definition servers, so that each individual venue can schedule the opera showings at its own optimum time. (La Scala and Emerging Pictures are encouraging multiple showings at all interested theaters.)
"Cinema alla Scala" (our name, not theirs) begins December 2 with Verdi's Aida, in the lavish staging by Franco Zeffirelli that opened La Scala's 2006-07 season last December. This is, of course, the production in which the Radames, Roberto Alagna, angrily left the stage during the second performance; the recording is made from opening night, the only one Alagna completed. Soprano Violeta Urmana sings the title role, with mezzo Ildikó Komlosi as Amneris; Riccardo Chailly conducts La Scala's orchestra, chorus and ballet company.
The season's further presentations include:
- January 2008 - Wagner's Tristan und Isolde from La Scala
The production that opens the house's 2007-08 season on December 7. A staging directed by Patrice Chéreau, with Daniel Barenboim conducting; starring are Ian Storey (Tristan), Waltraud Meier (Isolde), Michelle DeYoung (Brangäne) and Matti Salminen (King Marke).
- February 2008 - Verdi's La traviata from La Scala
A new production by director Liliana Cavani from July 2007, with Angela Gheorghiu (Violetta), Ram‹n Vargas (Alfredo Germont), Roberto Frontali (Giorgio Germont) and Lorin Maazel on the podium.
- March, 2008 - Donizetti's Maria Stuarda from La Scala
Mary, Queen of Scots (Mariella Devia) and Elizabeth I of England (Anna Caterina Antonacci) have a bel canto showdown. Antonino Fogliani conducts; the production (which opens at La Scala itself on January 15, 2008) is directed, designed and costumed by Pier Luigi Pizzi.
- April, 2008 - Verdi's La forza del destino from the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Running this November 25 to December 2 in Florence, Nicolas Joël's staging of Verdi's potboiler stars Violeta Urmana (Donna Leonora), Marcello Giordani (Don Alvaro), Carlo Guelfi (Don Carlos di Vargas) and Julia Gertseva (Preziosilla). Zubin Mehta conducts.
- May, 2008 - Puccini's Il Trittico from La Scala
Luca Ronconi's production of Puccini's trilogy, running on La Scala's stage from March 6 to April 2, features Riccardo Chailly on the podium once again. Il tabarro features Juan Pons (Michele), Miro Dvorski (Luigi) and Paoletta Marrocu (Giorgetta); Barbara Frittoli takes the title role in Suor Angelica, with Marjana Lipovsek as her cruel aunt; Gianni Schicchi stars Leo Nucci as the titular rogue, with Nino Machaidze and Stefano Secco as the young lovers and Cinzia De Mola as the conniving Aunt Zita.
- June, 2008 - Puccini's La Rondine from the Teatro La Fenice, Venice
This new staging, directed by Graham Vick, opens La Fenice's 2008 operatic season on January 26. Carlo Rizzi conducts the historic house's orchestra and chorus, plus a cast headed by Fiorenza Cedolins (Magda) and Massimo Giordano (Ruggero).
So far, 56 cinemas throughout the US are participating in the "Cinema alla Scala" program this season: nine in Florida, seven in Michigan, six each in New York state and California, five in Illinois and four in Missouri, as well as various theaters in Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas. Among the notable venues are Symphony Space in Manhattan, the Mann Chinese Theater in Hollywood, the Bryn Mawr Film Institute near Philadelphia and the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno.
A list of all participating theaters — and more are being added regularly — is available at www.emergingpictures.com/opera_venues.htm. Since each venue can schedule its opera showings independently, contact the individual cinemas for dates and times for each presentation.