We're not getting the full Royal Opera House season announcement until next week, but thanks to one of its cinema distributors [link removed at distributor's request]we at least know what they're planning to screen. Here we go:
The official program of the Live Cinema Season 2014/15
Examining the way that television has covered opera over the years, it will include both individual opera productions and arts documentaries.
Unfortunately it looks for the most part like a wasted opportunity. The focus is firmly on ancient stagings, with no room for the groundbreaking likes of Channel 4's The Death of Klinghoffer or Powder her Face. However look closely and you may just find something that isn't available on YouTube.
I haven't been to a Metropolitan Opera live cinema screening for quite a while. So I was shocked to find the going rate in London has risen to £30-£40 - about three times the price of a regular cinema ticket, and more than I generally pay for live opera. And yet they still sell out, often months in advance.
One alternative is provided by the 'Encore' screenings, rebroadcast a day or more after the live event. These are mostly priced at £20-ish, but a disadvantage for many is that they tend to be scheduled mid-day and mid-week.
For the true 'Live in HD' experience, the cheapest London tickets I can find are the Barnet Odeon's. OK, so it's a 30 minute tube ride from the centre of town (close to High Barnet station), but with seats at £15.50-£18 the prices make the journey worthwhile. And there are still plenty of tickets available, for everything.
More films have been made about Richard Wagner (and his works) than any other composer - not that you'd guess it from the peculiar dearth of Wagnerversary screenings. This is soon to be remedied.
First up is Der fliegende Holländer at the Barbican on 7 December. Joachim Herz's 1964 film (extract above) is a movie version of the opera, mimed to a soundtrack from the Gewandhaus Orchester and a host of DDR star singers. By the time he made the film, Herz had directed three different stage productions of the opera. Instead of shooting one of these, he wanted to "create images from the music, which then act as if the music had been created from the images." The largely realistic result is interleaved with ambitious dream sequences for Senta.
A Wagner documentary without Howard Goodall or Stephen Fry? Yes, it can be done.
Here's the earliest effort: Carl Fröhlich's 1913 silent movie The Life and Works of Richard Wagner. The series of reverential vignettes was put together to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth.
Ideally it would have been accompanied by an orchestra playing Wagner's music at each showing, but the makers didn't want to stump up the required royalties. So they commissioned Giuseppe Becce to craft a Wagner-like score; close enough to sound like the real thing, but different enough to avoid legal retaliation. Becce bore such an uncanny resemblance to Wagner that he was drafted in to act the part of the composer as well.
There's no sound on the video above, so feel free to slam on some Daft Punk.