October 27, 2012 – San Diego, California
Semyon Bychkov; Johan Botha, Renée Fleming,
Falk Struckmann, Michael Fabiano
Briefly back in San Diego, we choose the closest of seven venues for Live in HD, at 12 to 40 miles from our home. In the past, sold-out houses have pushed us to sample every site at least once: when word got out about the dazzling new Carmen of 2010, for instance, we ended up nearly on the Mexican border.
Edwards Mira Mesa Cinema is a quintessential southern California movie palace in pastel stucco with palm trees. And it’s big: 18 screens, with hundreds of seats each. For a 10:00 AM showing, we arrive at 9:00 and join the queue. There’s brilliant sun here – eventually 91 degrees – and we’re happy to stand around and bask. Once inside, we head for Auditorium 10 and our favorite terrain, high up and back row center.
A special feature of Live in HD Pacific Time is the intermission picnic lunch – all the “regulars” munching bootlegged tuna salad or salami and cheese while the towering sets of Otello are transformed before our eyes. Two of the Met’s newest tenors appear on the screen in sequence: Michael Fabiano in today’s opera, and Alek Shrader in the trailer for the next HD – both of whom I was delighted to hear in person win the 2009 National Council Auditions.
South African tenor Johan Botha in the title role is a huge man with a huge voice; we’re lucky to hear him, as he has been ill and canceled three prior performances this week. The Met’s reigning soprano Renée Fleming is a ravishing Desdemona.