Building on the 82-year tradition of its radio broadcasts, the Metropolitan Opera has been more aggressive than perhaps any other arts organization in the world at taking advantage of technology to reach larger audiences. The radio broadcasts continue during the season on Saturdays, along with ten HD relays to movie theaters around the world.
The Met also offers free audio streams once a week during the season, including most first nights and premieres of new productions. And the Met’s channel on Sirius XM plays archived recordings around the clock, with 3 live broadcasts a week during the season.
And there’s Met Opera on Demand, which delivers a big chunk of the Met’s archive of audio and video recordings through either your computer or your iPad. The big spectacles, the big casts, and from the now-frequent broadcasts of recent years, the big HD close-ups. All here.
That sounds amazing, and it is. It’s just not that user-friendly, which may be one reason it hasn’t generated nearly the buzz that the HD in cinemas has. The offer is a little confusing, with monthly and yearly pricing, and different availability for the computer and for the iPad and no availability on the iPhone or on Android. You can rent single titles for 30 days on the computer only. The iPad app doesn’t support AirPlay (though you can mirror your iPad screen via the HDMI output).
And you need a strong wi-fi signal, of course.
That said, for $14.99 a month, around the price of a typical opera DVD, you gain access to an awful lot more opera. (The service is available worldwide, but you’ll be billed the U.S. dollar price.) You can try the program for 7 days free, and see if the joy of immediate, endless access to some of the world’s greatest performances outweighs the minor hassles.