If there needed to be proof that the world of opera has something for everyone, the current season of the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD has been a living testament.
From the light comedy of Donizetti's "The Elixir of Love" to the philosophical depths (and musical sublimities) of Wagner's "Parsifal"; from Thomas Ades' contemporary take on Shakespeare's "The Tempest" to the baroque extravaganza of Handel's "Julius Caesar" (which closed the season April 27); from a traditional staging of Verdi's "Aida" to his "Rigoletto" moved to 1960s Las Vegas, inspired by the antics of the Rat Pack. English-language subtitles for all productions have demystified the idea of watching an opera. The plots become as clear as in any foreign-language film.
The upcoming season is similarly diverse, with three Russian works and one Czech, new productions of "Eugene Onegin," "Prince Igor," "Falstaff" and "Werther," and starry casts including sopranos Anna Netrebko and Renee Fleming, mezzos Joyce DiDonato and Stephanie Blythe, tenors Juan Diego Florez and Jonas Kaufmann.
A special novelty will be Shostakovich's "The Nose," an uproarious 1920s comedy that was successfully revived in 2010 with "South Pacific" star Paolo Szot. American soprano Lisette Oropesa, who won Pittsburgh audiences in Mozart's "The Abduction From the Seraglio," will be the ingenue Nanetta in "Falstaff."
There are now three Pittsburgh area theaters that show The Met in HD: Cinemark Robinson in Settler's Ridge Center at Exit 61 on the Parkway West (I-376), Cinemark 18 in Pittsburgh Mills at Exit 12A on PA-28, and the Pittsburgh North 11 Theater at 9700 McKnight Road.
The simulcasts are live on Saturday afternoons, with encore presentations on Wednesday evenings two weeks later and eventually on home TV in PBS's "Great Performance" series.
It should be noted that "Live in HD" performances (10 in 2013-14, cut back from 12 this season) coincide with the Met's Saturday afternoon live radio broadcasts -- a great American cultural tradition since 1931, aired weekly during the season on WQED-FM.
The 2013-14 Live in HD broadcast schedule begins Oct. 5 with a new production of Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin," featuring Mariusz Kwiecien in the title role.
The remaining operas are:
Shostakovich: "The Nose," 12:55 p.m., Oct. 26.
Puccini: "Tosca," 12:55 p.m., Nov. 9.
Verdi: "Falstaff," 12:55 p.m., Dec. 14.
Dvorak: "Rusalka," 12:55 p.m., Feb. 8, 2014.
Borodin: "Prince Igor," noon, March 1, 2014.
Massenet: "Werther," 12:55 p.m., March 15, 2014.
Puccini: "La Boheme," 12:55 p.m., April 5, 2014.
Mozart: "Cosi fan tutte," 12:55 p.m., April 26, 2014.
Rossini: "La Cenerentola," 12:55 p.m., May 10, 2014.
Tickets may be purchased in advance from: http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/liveinhd/LiveinHD.aspx.
Robert Croan is a Post-Gazette senior editor.