Metropolitan Opera to Offer Hi-Def Simulcasts in NYC Public Schools

Classic Arts News   Metropolitan Opera to Offer Hi-Def Simulcasts in NYC Public Schools
Beginning this weekend, as part of its ongoing efforts to build future audiences, the Metropolitan Opera is extending its high-definition simulcasts to selected New York City public schools.

In partnership with the New York City Department of Education and the Metropolitan Opera Guild, the house will offer seven of this season's eight "Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD" presentations, transmitted live via satellite, to students and teachers at one designated public school in each of the city's five boroughs. (Of the operas in the HD series this season, only Wagner's lengthy Tristan und Isolde won't be offered in the schools.) The simulcasts begin this Saturday afternoon, December 15, with Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, starring Roberto Alagna and Anna Netrebko and conducted by Plácido Domingo.

In conjunction with this outreach initiative to young people, the Met is providing students at participating schools with opportunities for special backstage access. Tomorrow afternoon, for instance, approximately 30 students from Long Island City High School will take a backstage tour of the house and interview Netrebko and Met General Manager Peter Gelb. (Students from other schools participating in the HD series will be invited for similar activities throughout the season.)

In addition, about 2,500 local high school and university students will visit the Met on December 21 for a free student open house including the final dress rehearsal of the new, English-language production of Hansel and Gretel which opens on Christmas Eve.

For the in-school transmissions, the Met has created a platform for the participating teachers and administrators that include specially designed program materials, curriculum guides and media resources; the Metropolitan Opera Guild and the company are working to provide teacher-training seminars as well. The Met and the Department of Education are providing each school with all of the required satellite equipment, including 1080p full high definition projectors and motorized HD screens; projectors are provided for the program with support from high definition technology leader Panasonic North America. This week select students from four of the five high schools have been participating in a training program led by the Met's technicians while they integrate the schools' audio-video systems with the satellite and HD technology required for the live transmissions. The Met will continue to provide training through January and February for students and teachers.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for New York City public school students to experience a great art form that they may be only distantly aware of," said New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein in a statement released today announcing the program to the general public. "The Met's innovative use of HD technology to convey performances of the highest quality directly to schools is a perfect example of the saying, 'only in New York.'"

The five schools participating in the Met's Live in HD program this year are Long Island City High School (Queens); Susan E. Wagner High School (Staten Island); Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music at Lehman College (the Bronx); The High School for Enterprise, Business and Technology at the Grand Street Campus (Brooklyn); and Washington Irving High School (Manhattan). For a schedule of this season's transmissions, click here.

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