The six performances earmarked for the series represent the most comprehensive coverage of the Met’s season. The first telecast was Julie Taymor’s English-language production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” This approach is in keeping with the Metropolitan Opera’s new mission, to present opera as a contemporary art form. Other operas in the series will include works by Tchaikovsky, Rossini and others. Performers in the series include Anna Netrebko, Placido Domingo and Juan Diego Florez, among many others. The theater showings have been a rousing success in most areas. People seem to be attracted to the idea of watching live opera in a movie theater in hi-def widescreen images with high-quality surround sound. At the Portland, Oregon theater where Eugene Onegin was shown, so many showed up the managers had to open a second auditorium to seat them. The quality of the productions is so good that some found them better than actually being in the opera house. Every transmission has been repeated due to public demand. For more information on both series: www.metopera.org
Traneumentary Podcasts – A 34-episode series celebrating the artistry and recordings of John Coltrane has become one of the most popular podcasts carried on iTunes. Producer Joseph Vella started the series last month. Concord Records had originally requested one podcast to tie in with their release of the Coltrane boxed set “Fearless” (which we awarded to six Audiophile Audition readers last September). It consists of conversations with musicians, producers, writers and educators about Coltrane’s life and music, interspersed with excerpts from his playing. Vella said “…listeners get a rare opportunity to hear musicians explaining the music and putting it into context. It’s really a great introduction not only to Coltrane, but also to jazz in general.” New episodes are released every Tuesday and subscriptions are free and available from iTunes.
The Trend to Wireless – is definitely happening. Phones, PCs, notebooks, headsets have done away with the wires, and home audio and video will probably be next. Many large and small firms are engaged in solving some of the more difficult issues in transmitting audio and video wirelessly. Chips are being developed to carry 720p hi-def video. A few companies are making loudspeakers which connect wirelessly to the main audio system; this is especially welcome to simplify installation of surround speakers. Some of the Japanese electronics firms are backing the Ultrawideband standard, and Neosonik has a proprietary protocol for streaming multiple audio and video signals, using the same frequency as Wi-Fi, but insulated from that traffic. They can output 1080i now and say by the time 1080p becomes the standard they can have wireless to support it. Synchronization of multiple signals is a major consideration, so one room isn’t receiving sound a fraction of a section later than an adjoining room.