A rite of summer is adapting to hard times. Since 1967, the Metropolitan Opera has moved out of its chandeliered house in the summertime and gone on a tour of the city’s parks with a complete opera or two. This year, the company will leave the orchestra and chorus behind, and deploy just a couple of soloists with a piano for a series of vocal recitals. To compensate for the loss of grandeur, the Met will hold a ten-day festival of nightly screenings from its collection of HD broadcasts in the freshly renovated Lincoln Center Plaza starting on August 29. Now, everybody loves an outdoor movie, but sitting on plastic chairs and watching a taped performance just isn’t the same as sharing a free performance of La Bohème with 100,000 picnickers on the Great Lawn. That’s another thing we have to look forward to when the economy shakes off the blues: the return of free opera in the parks.
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