Opera, ballet & movie theaters, oh my!

When the musical Rent closed on Broadway, we didn’t have to fly to New York to see it. Instead, I picked Lizabeth up from school one day and told her we were taking in a movie, surprising her instead with a filmed presentation of Rent’s closing performance at a local movie theater (“Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway”). Since then, we’ve discovered that we can catch all kinds of arts performances with all the creature comforts of the movies.

Harkins Theatres and Emerging Pictures are presenting the “Opera and Ballet in Cinema” series, which features “the best of European opera and ballet” in Hi-Definition digital projection. Two live performances—Carmen/Bizet (December 7) and Il Trovatore (December 22)—will be shown at Harkins Scottsdale 101. The series runs through July 21, 2010. Harkins Norterra 14 will feature Swan Lake on November 3 and the Nutcracker on November 24. For a complete schedule of performances and participating theaters, visit www.harkinstheatres.com.

If you think your children could never enjoy the opera, think again. Lizabeth somehow heard about Rigoletto during elementary school, and convinced me to buy tickets to the Arizona Opera production at Symphony Hall in Phoenix. It was my first time at the opera, and I hadn’t any idea what to expect. Sometimes you just have to follow your child’s lead.

We both ended up loving it, and went to the opera regularly for many seasons thereafter. Opera is rich in color, in characters and in sound. It shouldn’t have surprised me that Lizabeth would adore it. It’s a feast for the senses and rarely fails to capture the imagination. Another favorite of ours is Madama Butterfly because the music leaves you feeling like you’re soaring to great heights—as well as great depths.

Experiencing opera and ballet at the movie theater is a great way to enjoy a rainy afternoon, to get a taste for something outside the ordinary, to expose your child to artists he or she might otherwise never see. The Metropolitan Opera is presenting “The Met: Live in HD” during the 2009/10 season at AMC Theatres, which features nine live transmissions from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. For a complete schedule of performances and participating theaters, visit http://www.metoperafamily.org or http://www.amcentertainment.com. Upcoming presentations include an Aida encore on November 11.

“Sing me a Story: The Metropolitan Opera’s Book of Opera Songs for Children” by Jane Rosenberg gave us a kid-friendly yet adult-palatable introduction to some of the world’s most beloved operas enjoyed by children—including Hansel and Gretel, The Magic Flute and several others. It doesn’t include the opera I consider my biggest error in judgment: Dialogue of the Carmelites. What could be so terrible about an opera featuring French nuns? Short answer: The guillotine. Enough said.

If you’re considering a trip to the opera, just do your homework first. Some operas make better choices for a grown-up’s night out. Check out Arizona Opera at www.azopera.com and Phoenix Opera at www.phoenixopera.org to learn about 2009/2010 season offerings and special programs offered for students and youth.

Lynn

Coming soon: A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail

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