Page last updated at 11:04 GMT, Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Major operas to be shown online

By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News, at Midem in Cannes

La Boheme from the English National Opera (ENO)
The site will launch with the English National Opera's La Boheme

Opera and ballet lovers are to be offered major productions from some of the world's leading companies as pay-per-view internet broadcasts.

Eleven shows from the new season at the Metropolitan Opera in New York will be among those streamed by Classical TV.

Productions by the Bolshoi, Marinsky, Zurich Opera and Paris Opera Ballet will be broadcast live on the Classical TV website, which launches next month.

Chief executive Chris Hunt said it would be the biggest site of its kind.

The Met productions will begin with its 125th anniversary gala opening night, starring soprano Renee Fleming, tenor Ramon Vargas and baritone Thomas Hampson.

They will also include Strauss's Salome, featuring soprano Karita Mattila, and the premiere of John Adams' Doctor Atomic.

Free video

The site launches on with the English National Opera's new production of Puccini's La Boheme, directed by Jonathan Miller, which will be available from 2 February, except in the UK, where it will be online from 9 February.

There will be one major live or current season event broadcast as a high quality stream every fortnight, costing $9.99 (7.25) each.

The shows will also cover theatre, including Sir Ian McKellen's performance in King Lear for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), plus jazz and classical music.

There will also be an archive of 1,100 hours of free video.

Mr Hunt said he hoped it would be the "first significant-scale internet broadcaster for the performing arts".

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