I caught the first act of La Bohème last night outside the Wiener Staatsoper last night, witnessing part of internet-favorite Stephen Costello’s Met debut. Yes, only the first act, sorry. But here’s what this open-air broadcast thing is like.
There are about 200 chairs and a handful of carpet squares to sit on, many people were also standing (if Villazón had sung as planned, I’m sure the crowd would have been much larger). The spot is the Kärtnerstrasse side of the house, over the ticket office and the shop. The screen is high up so it doesn’t matter if someone tall is front of you. People came and went, many not staying for very long (um, me included), but it’s pleasant and attracts many passing tourists at one of Vienna’s busiest intersections, who now have some opera in their lives.
The video is simpler than what you get on a DVD with a smaller number of angles and less cutting between shots. I think this is a good thing. The picture quality is a long way from the Met’s HD broadcasts but it’s decent enough.
Unfortunately, the sound quality is pretty bad. The orchestra lacks definition, the voices sound like they’re in a different room from it, and it all sounds tinny. I was going to try to get some video with my camera for all you Costello fans out there, but the bad recording quality plus my camera’s lousy microphone made me decide this would be unfair to him.
Also, Vienna is damn cold right now.
Due to the audio issues, I can’t say with any confidence how anyone sounded. I think that Costello was making some pretty sounds as Rodolfo, and the house cheered at considerable length. (I saw him back at AVA in Philly, but haven’t kept track of him since. I’m still happy to see he’s doing big things.) He rushed a little bit in the aria but the duet was better. Krassimira Stoyanova gave an impression of being fabulous as Mimì. The production is a Zeffirelli, somewhat simpler than the Met’s but Schunard does enter with two kids carrying stuff trailing behind him, so.
I’m going to Tannhäuser tomorrow night--not on video, inside the house. The internet situation here is provisionally lacking, so if you email me I might not get back to you right away.