There is no denying the passion and excitement that opera brings to a stage. The same could be said for musical theatre, one of the great art forms. What an adventure to combine the two – a real musical theatre-lovers dream team. Enter Opera & Beyond, a new way of delivering this exciting theatre experience in the form of high definition video where stunning performances from those great houses are delivered to the little train station playhouse.

Pioneered by the Metropolitan Opera, neighborhood multiplexes are boasting the trends of this high drama live performances on the big screen. This has become so popular that it is often impossible to get in to enjoy the action! And not only the Met, as their success has inspired other houses such as, Covent Garden, La Scala and the Paris Opera to join in. It is a feast for opera lovers, new and old.

The Royal Opera House in London transmits opera and ballet performances in Europe and outside the continent. The Italian opera houses of Parma, Florence, Venice, Bologna and Milan are beaming their productions. So in October the Hudson Film Society will continue its trail blazing high definition season on the giant screen at the Hudson Village Theatre, under a new series title, Opera & Beyond. The new name will allow the broadening of program choices to include Operetta and the best of Broadway.

Opening the series in October, will be an exciting rendition of a Puccini favorite, Tosca, recorded from a performance at Taormina’s Greek Amphitheatre in Sicily. This will be followed in November by Verdi’s Aida. January will bring a popular operetta, Die Fledermaus with all its great comedy and intrigue. A Verdi powerhouse, La Traviata, will grace the giant screen in February. More comedy will come in March with the most popular of all Gilbert and Sullivan operas, The Mikado. To cap off the series adventure, there will be a Broadway mystery in April. It will be one of the all-time record setters but to add to the fun, the title will not be revealed until the night of the performance.

By definition, the word opera is the Italian equivalent of the English word “work”. (It is the plural of the latin opus meaning “work” or “labour”). It is considered an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text (a libretto) and musical score, most often in a theatre setting, incorporating elements of theatre typically performed in an opera house, with an orchestra and smaller musical ensemble.

Musical theatre is a closely related theatrical form of opera, but the two are usually distinguished by a number of factors. Musicals focus on spoken dialogue, dancing, the use of various genres of popular music, and on the avoidance of certain operatic conventions. For example, a musical is almost always performed in the language of its audience. An opera singer is primarily a singer and only secondarily an actor and rarely dances. A musical theatre performer is often an actor first and then a singer and dancer. Composers of music for musicals often consider the vocal demands of roles with musical theatre performers in mind. Today, large theatres staging musicals amplify the actors’ singing voices in a way that would generally be disapproved of in an operatic context. And sometimes, the two thankfully overlap.

Celebrating its 20th year, Village Theatre in Hudson is an English language performing arts venue offering a diverse selection of year-round programs, housed in the historic train station. In 2006, the Hudson Film Society (HFS) was born. Through this partnership, the theatre is fully equipped with a high definition video projector, a giant state of the art movie screen and digital sound. This very successful film initiative, now beginning its seventh sold out season, gave the theatre the capability to bring yet another exciting performing arts experience. In March 2009, what was originally called Hudson Village Opera and Ballet was launched leading the way for the development of the current exciting season.

The creative force behind this ground-breaking initiative is Hudson Film Society President Clint Ward. “We are delighted to share the exciting news that the Hudson Film Society (HFS) will continue the popular winter Opera Series previously run by Village Theatre” says Ward. “There is definitely excitement in the air when we contemplate what this programming is actually bringing to our audiences. This season the former two week-end performance (Sat-Sun) schedule will be combined into a single 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon screening, and in addition to opera will include other forms of musical theatre such as operetta and Broadway shows – hence the title Opera and Beyond. All the seats in the theatre are excellent and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Zachary Woolfe, author of The Screen Can’t Hear When You Yell Bravo, describes an HD performance he recently attended where he asked a woman to compare the live opera experience to HD: “There’s no substitute,” she said, sitting next to him. Then she looked at the screen. “Well,” she added, “this is a good substitute.” Mr. Woolfe continues “The HD program is revolutionary and is sure to lead to even more revolutionary ideas. It won’t be long before you’ll be able to stream the Met’s performances — any Met performance, live on your computer, smartphone or tablet. That is how the new audience for opera will be found, in a way simultaneously more artificial and more genuine than the seductive illusion of live performance in the HD series.”

Mr. Ward notes that “all the screenings will be examples of the very best programs available to us, and ones that truly demonstrate the power of musical theatre from the great stages of the world. It will be an exciting and interesting adventure!” Passion – pure and simple.

Opera & Beyond membership information can be obtained by calling Trish Kelly at 450-202-0773. Send membership applications to: The Hudson Film Society, Box 1146, Hudson, QC J0P 1H0. Series pass available at Pure Art (422 Main Road) in Hudson or at Hudson Village Theatre. The six performance series: $99 reduced to $89 for members of the Hudson Film Society (single tickets will be sold in the seven days prior to a screening). Membership forms are available at:

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