On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of opera lovers at Victor’s Regal Theatre missed significant chunks of Donizetti’s “La Fille du Regiment” during The Met at the Movies HD broadcast. The video broke up and the sound dropped out at the beginning of the second Act. We watched distorted faces and heard digitized squawks for about a minute. Then the screen went blue. We waited. A staff member rushed in and said they were working on the problem. About ten minutes later, the sound came back and the singers reappeared. Then it happened again. Audiences members groaned, since things were getting really interesting with the shocking disclosure of the Duchess’s illegitimate daughter!
Blue screen. Wait, wait, wait. The manager came in this time and apologized, saying local thunderstorms were blocking the transmission, and that anyone who wanted to leave could get a refund or a free ticket to another movie. It wasn’t New York’s problem.
As far as I could see, nobody left. After another seven minutes or so, the music came back, along with the visuals.
Finally, during the very last scene, it happened again. Argh! Operatic interruptus! A frustrated murmur rose up. A few people actually gasped.
I heard that this kind of failure occurred in Burbank, California during The Magic Flute. They had horrific transmission problems with pixelated video and sound delays. This is the flip side of Peter Gelb’s wonderful new technology. Glitches stink.