Opera comes to Breck in high-def
September 16, 2010
Last April, the National Repertory Orchestra (NRO) and Colorado Mountain College (CMC) partnered to broadcast The Metropolitan Opera Association of New York City’s production of “Carmen” in high-definition in the college’s auditorium. The event drew about 110 people, with approximately 60-70 percent originating from Summit County, according to David Pessel, an NRO board member. This season, CMC and the NRO will bring a dozen live broadcasts of The Met’s operas to Breckenridge.”The Met has now selected us as hosts for their entire Met in HD series this season,” Pessel said. “It’s quite an honor for the NRO and CMC.”The Met recently expanded to include nonprofit organizations into its list of venues it works with to provide the live broadcasts. Before, only commercial theaters offered the operas, and in Denver, “very often, they sell out,” Pessel said. The Wheeler Opera House in Aspen was the first nonprofit in Colorado to offer the live streams.Though April’s broadcast of “Carmen” wasn’t live, all of the operas this season will be -even if that means they will begin at 10 a.m.”The diehards are going to go,” Pessel said about morning showings, adding that last season, “a number of people were driving to Denver from Summit County.”He expects attendance to average 50 people, with a high of 150 for the “high roller operas” and a low of 25.CMC ordered the two satellite receivers the Met requires (in case one goes down) and a high-definition projector, which meets the Met’s standards. It cost $10,000 to $15,000, Pessel said, but “it also gives CMC satellites for more than just opera. (The auditorium) is not heavily used on evenings and weekends, and CMC plans to use (the equipment) for more than opera.” Alton Scales, CMC Summit Campus dean and CEO, could not be reached to provide specifics.”We (the NRO and CMC) see ourselves as becoming the cultural Mecca for the ski season,” Pessel said. “The acoustics and the speakers at CMC are going to give (audiences) very nice opportunities to see these operas in a more intimate venue than Denver (provides).””It will be like having the best seat in the house,” said NRO executive director Ken Toltz.Initially, patrons will purchase tickets at the door (or buy package deals), but as the events grow, Pessel intends to pair brunches or cocktail parties with the broadcasts. “We hope to grow it into a community of classic opera enthusiasts,” he said.