Opera for rent?

My 19-year-old daughter Jennifer seems to have found a way to get “videos” via just about everything but a toaster. (Thankfully, all by legal means.)

I’ve no doubt she could “rent” videos of some of my favorite operas without leaving the comfort of the couch.

Enjoy a filmed performance of Puccini's LA BOHEME outdoors this month (Photo: Arizona Opera)

Still, big productions lose their appeal on the small screen — which is why I’m so delighted to have several opera venues in the Valley.

Until my youngest daughter Lizabeth (now 17) became too busy with her own theater auditions, rehearsals and performances, we enjoyed Arizona Opera productions fairly regularly at Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix.

But options for opera-goers have expanded since then. If you’ve never given opera a try, fearing it might be too boring or stuffy, consider giving it a whirl with one the following:

“The Magic Flute,” composed by Mozart, will be performed at Teatro alla Scala in Milan this week. It’s a tad late to snag airline and opera tickets — but you can watch the live performance at one of three Harkins Theatres in the Valley on March 24 (assuming you can get tickets before they sell out).

“La boheme,” composed by Puccini, was filmed during an Arizona Opera production at Symphony Hall in Phoenix. As many of you know, “La boheme” inspired the Broadway musical titled “Rent.”

It’s being screened during an evening dubbed “Opera in the Park” — taking place March 26 thanks to Arizona Opera and the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

MUSIC IN THE GROVE features Phoenix Opera Singers performing in Queen Creek (Photo: Howard Paley)

The free outdoor screening at the Scottsdale Civic Center Amphiteater is a lovely way to introduce the very young to opera in a casual environment.

Food and beverages are available for purchase on sight (you can bring your own water), and seating is whatever you bring to spread on the lawn. Think low lawn chairs, blankets and such.

Some of Lizabeth’s earliest experiences with live classical music performance took place at this amphitheatre — where we loved spending time together under the stars.

Music in the Grove,” an event featuring the Phoenix Opera Singers performing “popular and operatic masterpieces,” takes place April 17 at the Queen Creek Olive Mill.

Food and beverages will be available for purchase, and the event also includes a marketplace. Opera doesn’t get much more user-friendly than that.

Harkins Theatres present both OPERA IN CINEMA and BALLET IN CINEMA (Photo: Emerging Pictures)

Those of you who prefer your opera in more traditional venues can visit the websites for Arizona Opera and Phoenix Opera to learn more about their offerings.

I’ll pretty much take my opera any way I can get it. It’s a grand enterprise full of magical sets, lush costumes, soaring musical performance and a taste of some of the world’s great languages.

– Lynn

Note: Watch the Harkins Theatres website for future “Emerging Pictures” presentations of “Opera in Cinema” — including “The Barber of Seville” and Verdi’s “Macbeth.” Also watch the AMC Theatres website for opera offerings (from The Metropolitan Opera in NYC).

Coming up: Finding classical music in unexpected places, Dance detours, Shakespeare for all ages

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