The Royal Opera House’s Live Cinema Season will be seen at more than 1,000 cinemas in 40 countries in 2013-14, music director Sir Antonio Pappano has announced.
Speaking at a ceremony in London’s Mayfair Hotel to launch the first relay, of Andrei Serban’s 30-year-old production of Puccini’s Turandot, on 17 September, Sir Antonio said the project had seen spectacular growth since the first season, in 2009, of three works screened in a few hundred cinemas.
This season sees 10 operas and ballets being relayed, six of them new productions, including Carlos Acosta’s version of Don Quixote, Christopher Wheeldon’s take on Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and, on the opera side, Verdi’s Les vêpres siciliennes directed by Stefan Herheim.
Sir Antonio pointed out that the relay of The Nutcracker in 2012 scored the second-highest UK box office takings on the night, topped only by The Hobbit and outdoing James Bond’s Skyfall. Wheeldon’s production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was the most successful live screening of the season, attracting 40,000 people in the UK alone. The screening of Nabucco, starring Placido Domingo, last April was the most successful opera screening with a UK audience of almost 35,000.
American tenor Bryan Hymel, who performs in Les vêpres siciliennes, said at the launch that two years after seeing his first opera screening he found himself performing in a 3D relay of Carmen. The rise of opera in cinemas had been meteoric and the 34-year-old added: ‘It is not something even when I was in college that we were prepared for.’