Homer Theater’s 10th season of Metropolitan Opera Live in HD will start at 6 p.m. Nov. 15 with Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Samson et Dalila.”
The classic Biblical story of the Israelite strongman Samson seduced by the Philistine Dalila, it’s considered one of the “grand operas” and is the only opera by Saint-Saëns that is regularly performed.
The season continues with four more operas: Nico Muhly’s “Marnie” on Dec. 13, Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West” on Jan. 17, Francesco Cilea’s “Adriana Lecouvreur” on Feb. 21, and Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” on March 7. All shows start at 6 p.m.
It’s unique for a town the size of Homer to have Met Opera Live performances available. The Homer Theater is one of 750 theaters in the United States that shows Met Opera Live performances broadcast in high-definition video.
It was the pluckiness and persistence of the theater’s owner, Jamie Sutton, which brought the country’s top opera productions to the big screen in Homer.
Sutton happened to be in New York 10 years ago when the Met announced their new “Live in HD” offering to cinemas across the country. In the hopes of bringing opera to the Cosmic Hamlet he tried calling and emailing opera officials with no response.
It was going to take a face-to-face meeting, and so he went to the Met, “and found my way back into the bowels of the Met offices,” he said.
Here he met the husband and wife team who were the visionaries and producers of this new form of presentation that would bring opera to the masses.
“It was two factors that helped convince them” to let little Homer have Met operas at the local theater. “First, it was new, and the first time performance art was available like this, so they were open to seeing what venues could work”.
“And I worked at this a little bit, coming all the way from Alaska to plead for this.”
“I made a big deal of Homer’s art community, the Doc Fest, which had been going for three or four years, and they were convinced,” Sutton said. “They said, ‘Homer, Alaska: hell yeah.’ Basically, they thought that our audience (in Homer) is really the audience they had in mind. ‘That is who we’re doing this for,’ they told me.”
The Met Opera Live in Homer is a reprieve from Alaska’s long, dark winter. Theater manager Colleen Carroll said “some regulars come all the way from Kenai” to take in the operas. Homer regulars like the experience of hearing some of the most beautiful music ever written, coupled with no-expense-spared productions, and “eye candy” singers. The multiple camera angles offered by a Met Opera Live production allow the viewer to hear not only the vocal prowess of the singers, but see the sets, chorus and even the orchestra.
It is unlike going to a live performance because viewers can dress down. Plus, in Homer patrons can put their feet up at the front-row couches and eat popcorn at these productions.
Along with the well-known “Samson et Dalila” and “Carmen” come the newly-written “Marnie” and lesser-known “La Fanciulla del West” on Jan. 17 and “Adriana Lecouvreur” on Feb. 21.
“Marnie “is the same story (originally written by Poldark series writer Winston Graham) that Alfred Hitchcock brought to the silver screen. “La Fanciulla del West” (“The Girl of the Golden West”) was commissioned by, and first performed at, the Met in New York in December 1910 with Met star Enrico Caruso singing the tenor lead. “Adriana Lecouvreur” also starred Caruso at its world premier in Milan, Italy in 1902, and later in 1907 at the Met’s U.S. premiere.
All operas are shown with English subtitles. Admission is $20 for general admission, $5 students (high school and younger). New this year is a season pass, available for $90. A $10 savings, it includes an individual ticket for each opera that allows people to give individual tickets to others if they can’t make an opera night.
The Homer Opera Guild thanks its sponsors — Karen McRae, Kathy Hill, Nancy York and& Bob Neubauer, Jim and Ruth Lavrakas, Vonda Nixon, and Juneberry Lodge — who have supported this season’s Met Opera Live in HD to offset costs such as printing flyers, freight, Met Opera fees and print advertising.
Find Homer’s Met Opera Live on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HomerMetOpera/
Jim Lavrakas is a retired Anchorage Daily News photojournalist and a member of the Homer Opera Guild.