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Performance notes

Broadcasting opera shows live into cinemas is transforming the reach of the world's great opera houses. But opera will always be best savoured live

By Martin Kettle   February 2009

Just before Christmas, along with about 400 other London-based fans (and at the urging of this magazine’s editor), I went on the operatic trip of a lifetime to New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

To be strictly accurate, it was the Met that came to us. Nevertheless, for nearly four hours—and at a fraction of the cost and effort of winging our way to the Lincoln Centre in New York—the group of people gathered in London’s Barbican cinema was transported to Manhattan for a live performance of Massenet’s orientalist blockbuster Thaïs, with the lustrous Renée Fleming in the title role.

I had…

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