Went today to the Hoffman cineplex to watch the broadcast of the Met’s production of Jules Massenet’s Werther, walking in what was actually very nice weather, though apparently it’s supposed to snow again on Monday; it seems the latest game of climate change is for the weather to descend into chaos. Arrived an hour early to get good seating, settled in to eat overpriced pizza(with very nice crust), and killed time by reading about marching white supremacists on the iPhone before the opera started. Unfortunately, I ended up dozing off for large parts of it, which usually doesn’t happen to me in the middle of the day but perhaps it was because of my rising early this week to watch Junior Worlds, but for whatever reason today it did. I woke up to the sound of my mother crying and we were in the middle of Jonas Kaufman singing the big third act aria, which certainly was powerful, especially with him having the command of it. The music of Werther is very good as making the emotion of the opera rise and fall, especially when aided by a romantic tenor of Kaufman’s caliber.
Then came the final scene, the tragic end, where my mother was crying again, Kaufman and the music were still ruling the roost-until suddenly the sound stopped. When it didn’t come back on the lamenting started. Somebody apparently got the radio broadcast playing on one of their gadgets, but it was soft and out of sync and occasionally interrupted by Spanish-language radio stingers. The big question we all had, of course, was whether the fault was with the Hoffman(not the first time it would’ve been) or if the broadcast itself was having a problem. So I pulled my iPhone back out, loaded up Twitter, and entered “Werther” into the search box while several people went the the management to complain.
The sound finally came back literally the second the curtain fell, by which time I had found multiple tweets from people who had also lost sound, though it was trickier to determine where they were, until one tweeter identified herself as being in the Ziegfield in New York City. So it looked like this was a problem at least for a large part of the east coast, though I’m still not sure how far it went(ETA: Apparently it hit “the majority of U.S. theaters”). For the next 15 minutes or so I kept the app open, reading tweets from people who had suffered the same difficulties, getting much amusement out of it and consolation that we in the Hoffman had not been alone. Watching opera is now truly a global experience-at least when it goes wrong.
ETA: And now the Met facebook account has announced that the last scene will be uploaded to their website tomorrow night for us all to watch with the sound on. The modern opera experience indeed!