Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Carmen (Live Broadcast Opera)

Finally a chance to compare one of these to an opera I've seen live.

The cinema version was better. I do hope they're keeping these recordings for later release.

I was distinctly underwhelmed by the ENO's Carmen. I completely got this one.

This is partly a compliment to the singing, but mostly to the Metropolitan Opera's excellent staging, costumes and direction, all of which matter much more in the cinema versions. I don't think it's just a matter of budget. I saw a beautiful Rheingold once with just a big sheet, some coloured lights and a projector for scenery.

But it's also a compliment to the camerawork, which is getting more and more accomplished. It's gone from downright annoying, to not noticeable, to a positive joy over the course of the last year.

Unfortunately the sound reproduction, which you'd think would be the most important thing, is just not as good. Not only not as good as it would be live, but not as good as it would be listening to a CD on a half-decent stereo. My ear isn't good enough to say exactly what's wrong.

I've no idea why this should be the case. Surely cinema speakers should be able to do as well as a home set? Maybe they're just not optimised for the same things.

It sounds like a reproduction or amplification problem, and it may be peculiar to the Cambridge Arts Cinema.

But it also seems to vary from performance to performance. Maybe it's just very difficult to record music properly without interfering with a live production?

But anyway, I don't care. I would rather see this again than the live version I saw, sound quality or not. Even if I still lived in London and the price was the same.

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