Thursday the 16th of October marked the launch of the Royal Opera House live cinema season 2014/15. The production on the big screen that night was The Royal Ballet’s Manon with Marianela Nuñez playing the title role and Federico Bonelli as Des Grieux, Manon’s love. Of course, nothing can better the spectacle of such high quality ballet live on stage, but experiencing it in high definition detail on the big screen offers thrilling insights that are simply not accessible from a normal auditorium view. The audience could hear the pointe shoes delicately hitting the floor with every movement of Kenneth Macmillan’s stunning choreography, they could see the sweat glistening on the dancer’s bodies as they contorted and arranged themselves into beautiful shapes, and they could feel the atmosphere of the stage in the comfort of their cinema seats. Though it is difficult to replicate the exact ambience of sitting in the Royal Opera House auditorium, one of the most exciting features of this project is that the audience members, in over 1,000 cinemas across the UK and the world, are also experiencing live action. There is still the drama of unedited performance and the adrenaline rush that comes with it. For those who are unable to make it to the live performances, the Royal Opera House have now introduced ‘encore’ screenings of the productions, which occur on the Sunday following the initial live showing.
The 2014/15 season will run 11 productions in total; 7 operas and 4 ballets. The program is varied, ranging from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (live showing on the 16th December) to La Boheme (10th June 2015) and everything in between. There is something for everyone and it would be difficult to find a reason not to go! Watching these productions on screen offers unparalleled views and close ups of every feature of the performance, from the individual orchestra members down in the pit to the facial expressions of every dancer on stage. The cinema audiences also benefit from beautifully framed shots which bring an extra aesthetic mediation to the productions; the cameras in the auditorium perfectly framed the stunning, heartbreaking final pas de deux between Manon and Les Grieux and also captured the witty and humorous ‘drunk Lescaut’ (expertly performed by Ricardo Cervera) dancing at the beginning of the second act. Watching a ballet in these surroundings is like watching the most eloquent, luxurious silent film with full musical score.
This season the next production to grace the silver screen is Verdi’s opera, ‘I Due Foscari’ on the 27th of October at 7.15pm. I urge anyone reading this to attend at least one of the live screenings from the iconic ROH. Last year, the ROH live cinema season showed Giselle which had a huge audience of 57,000 people (which happened to outdo Spiderman’s box office ratings for that day!) This year, Manon was the highest box office result for that night. Clearly, there is a reason why these productions are proving so successful: These screenings are a perfect evening out, seeing world class talent, for a fraction of the price (tickets for the screenings are just over £10) and unparalleled views. Check the ROH website for the next screening near you and spend a night at the opera, with a box of popcorn.
More information on the ROH live cinema season here.
Written by Thoroughly Modern Missy, Angelica Bomford.