WATERVILLE — While waiting for the start of Tchaikovsky’s opera “Eugene Onegin,” the Waterville Opera House hummed with the sounds of an orchestra tuning and audience members chatting.

The sound, however, was coming live from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Today’s high-definition screening of the performance was the first of 10 operas to be broadcast live from The Metropolitan Opera this season, as part of an expanded line of productions.

The Waterville Opera House also plans to broadcasting shows from the National Theatre as well as high-end art exhibitions from Europe, with events scheduled until late spring.

Dick Dyer, director of marketing and development for the opera house, said the productions are shown from the point of view chosen by the director, giving the audience the feel of sitting in the best seats of the Metropolitan Opera.

“You’ll never be able to replace the experience of going to the Metropolitan Opera, but this is the best possible way without actually being there,” he said.

The Metropolitan Opera first experimented in broadcasting its performances live to theaters in 2006 and since then the broadcasts have grown exponentially in popularity.

Beth and Joe Ranagan, both 70, of Sangerville, were two of about 30 attendees and said they have watched The Met live in Orono and came to Waterville to experience it from another venue.

Joe Ranagan, who has attended the Metropolitan Opera twice, said there is little to compare the opera to, and by showing it live in high definition, the performances are more accessible to those who can’t travel.

“It’s certainly easier than going to Manhattan,” he said.

The Waterville Opera House had to invest in about $12,000 worth of technology, including two satellites now attached to the building, in order to beam the performance in, Dyer said.

After other cities such as Rockland and Portland began participating in the simulcast, he said, local patrons began asking the opera house when it, too, would begin showing the Metropolitan Opera.

Dyer said the opera house expects the number of attendees to expand as the season progresses.

“Once people find out about the productions, they will grow. The word will spread about the quality,” he said.

Tyler Richardson, technical director at the Waterville Opera House, said the level of high definition and the sound quality of the equipment used to simulcast the show should leave the audience members feeling that they sat in the front row of the prestigious opera.

“It’s the production at its highest form. If you like opera, this will make you love opera,” he said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252
[email protected]

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