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Page last updated at 10:04 GMT, Thursday, 26 August 2010 11:04 UK
New York broadcasts to Bridport
By Zoe Kleinman
Reporter, BBC Dorset

Madama Butterfly
The fundraiser will be a performance of Madama Butterfly

The Electric Palace in Bridport has begun fundraising to buy the satellite equipment it needs to show a season of live opera straight from New York.

The season is part of The Met: Live in HD scheme in which cinemas and theatres around the world sign up to receive broadcasts of matinee performances.

The Regent Centre in Christchurch is also a part of the initiative.

MP Oliver Letwin will attend a fundraising opera performance at the Electric Palace on 26 August.

"I think it is a wonderful thing that new technology is being used to enable Bridport to participate in live performances from places as far away as New York," he told BBC News.

The season begins on 9 October with a transmission of Das Rheingold by Wagner.

By then the venue needs to have installed a specialist satellite dish, a decoder and, if it wishes to repeat the performances, a way of recording the live feed.

General manager Gabby Hitchin says the initial cost is £3,000.

Risky opera

"We are entirely self sufficient - for us to put on a fundraiser is unusual. It is a bit of a risk," she admitted.

There will also be very little time to practice receiving the signal because of the high cost of satellite broadcasting in HD.

"Every venue gets the time and we all have one practice run at switching on for an hour," said Ms Hitchin. "On the actual day we turn on half an hour before the show starts."

The Electric Palace first opened in 1926 as a cinema, but according to folklore it was originally intended to be an opera house.

"Although the films were silent they all had a live pianist so the sound quality was important," said Ms Hitchin.

"Musicians always comment on the acoustics in the main auditorium."

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