Viva l’Opera- The Met in a Cinema Near You

Viva l’Opéra offers live famous opera performances on cinema screens around France in its 2011-2012 season which complements a direct satellite transmission of the Metropolitan Opera of New York matinee performance every Saturday by a rival chain.



At a cinema near you in France throughout Winter and Spring, recordings of famous live opera performances

(There is much more on music and opera here)

Read a review by John Preedy of a recent performance at the UGC cinema in Brive-la-Gaillarde (Corrèze) of Puccini’s Tosca — A Royal Opera House Production.  John is a contributor on the arts and a blogger living in the Lot.


For those dwelling in rural France, opera in the cinema is the next best thing to that seat in the stalls at any of the great opera houses of the world.

The French cinema chain UGC, with screens and complexes across five European countries,recently unveiled its second edition of Viva l’Opéra — recorded transmissions of performances from the world’s leading opera houses on the big screen and in stunning stereo sound.

UGC managing director Alain Sussfeld, and Alain Duault, artistic director said the chain was expanding its coverage for this second season and will broadcast 10 operas in 24 cinemas in France, between October 2011 and July 2012.

Read more on the Viva l’Opéra facebook page

This initiative complements that of the Gaumont-Pathé group, which since April 2008, has transmitted live broadcasts of Saturday matinee performances at the Metropolitan Opera of New York.

Here is the programme for all cinemas transmitting the broadcast in France. Should you miss out there is always the Met player – a subscription-based listen and watch again facility online.

The choice of the Viva l’Opera programme —  Aida, La Forza del Destino, Eugene Onegin, Werther, or Norma — is classic, the “safe bets” designed to ensure success for an innovative initiative. After all according to L’Express newspaper, the goal is to democratise access to an elitist art form, opera. For Alain Sussfeld, Opera Viva! aims “to ensure that many people are able to attend what remains a privilege: a performance at the Bastille or the Opera Garnier.”

The monthly cinema performance on Thursdays at 19.45, costs 28 euros (10 euros for under 26 year olds) , the question is will it manage to retain a diverse audience, and ultimately, to broaden the circle of opera lovers.

If you are outside Europe you can stay in touch with European music-making via Internet radio. For instance this week (December 7) you could catch the opening night of the new La Scala season direct from Milano –Don Giovanni/Mozart/Choeur et Orchestre de la Scala, Barenboim on the France Musique station thanks to UER-Union European de Radio, the European Broadcasting Union. And they have a listen again option here and also here.

According to a report in l’Express these new musical initiatives are not an isolated phenomenon: plays, concerts, football… more and more cinemas are retransmitting other forms of  entertainment apart from movies . The cinema is reinventing itself  opening up to performing arts and sports events and even television, with real public success. In the case of the Opera Viva! , the 1st edition attracted 45 to 50,000 cinema-goers (the potential  total availability was 60,000 seats nationwide), keen to try out the opera experience on the big screen.

UGC was established in 1971, in France out of an association or regional cinema networks. The group now has modern multi-screen cinema complexes in France, Belgium Spain, Italy and the UK.

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