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Esa-Pekka Salonen's Metropolitan Opera debut not coming to movie theaters*

July 28, 2009 |  3:57 pm


It looks like those of us in L.A. who want to experience Esa-Pekka Salonen's much-anticipated debut at the Metropolitan Opera in November are going to have to buy a plane ticket to New York.

The opera company told Culture Monster that it won't broadcast Leoš Janáček's "From the House of the Dead" to movie theaters as part of its Live in HD series. Salonen, who is ending his tenure as the L.A. Philharmonic's music director, is scheduled to conduct the opera for seven performances in New York starting Nov. 12.

Nor can we expect the production to appear on PBS' "Great Performances" series anytime soon. The Met said that there are currently no plans to film the production in any format.

But all hope is not lost.

The Met said there will be a taped radio broadcast of the opera March 20, which KUSC will air and will be syndicated around the country. The company also said it may live stream audio from one of the performances on its own website, though the date has yet to be determined.

"From the House of the Dead," which was first performed in 1930, is a grim and philosophically bleak opera that follows the spiritual journeys of a group of prisoners in a labor camp. The 90-minute Czech-language opera is adapted from Dostoyevsky's "Memoirs from the House of the Dead."

Patrice Chéreau is directing the Met's production, having previously staged it at the Aix-en-Provence opera festival in 2007. Baritone Peter Mattei will lead the large ensemble cast, which also includes Kurt Streit, Willard White, Stefan Margita and Peter Hoare.

For the curious among you, Deutsche Grammophon has released a DVD of Chéreau's staging, featuring the Mahler Chamber orchestra conducted by Pierre Boulez.

Clips of the production have also surfaced on YouTube. Below is one snippet that appears to have been recorded from the European cable channel Arte.

-- David Ng

* A previous version of the post incorrectly stated that the DVD requires a region-free player. The DVD has no region coding and can be played on any player.

Photo: A scene from Patrice Chéreau's staging of "From the House of the Dead" by Leoš Janáček. Credit: Ros Ribas