2006_09_madamatimes.jpg

Last night, the Metropolitan Opera's new season opened, with its usual gala at Lincoln Center and something new - broadcasting the performance of Madama Butterfly for free on different screens in Times Square as well as a free broadcast on Lincoln Center's plaza. catelinp has a nice set of pictures from Times Square on Flickr. The Post and Times have stories about hundreds people enjoying the free Times Square showing and how this marks the new era of Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb. Now, going to see the Met broadcoast in the outdoors is one things, but the Met also announced showing performances in movie theaters which somehow seems less appealing - perhaps opera seems better live or outdoors.

Anyway, we thought this part of the Times article illuminated how big a deal the Met is to the NYC economy:

The Met is a behemoth. It employs 1,500 full- and part-time workers and had a $225 million budget last year. This year it will mount 222 performances and 27 productions.

One board member, William D. Rollnick, acknowledged that Mr. Gelb’s plans were expensive.

“Yeah, it’s going to take money, but everything takes money,” he said. “It’s raising the bar. We’ll do it.”

The NY Times' critic Anthony Tommasini liked this Madama Butterfly production, but seemed to think it was more exciting that the Met was reinvigorated.

Did you watch the performance at Times Square, on the plaza at Lincoln Center or in the Met? Standing room tickets for Saturday's performance will be available Saturday morning. You can see a press conference about the production, directed by Oscar winning director Anthony Minghella, here. And via the Post, check out opera blog Parterre.

Photograph of Madama Butterfly on the Jumbotron in Times Square from catelinp on Flickr