Opera, ballet for int'l digital cinema debut


LONDON -- Opera and ballet are set to become fixtures on cinema screens across the U.K., Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Benelux and the Nordic territories following a wide-ranging digital distribution deal.

The deal, between Arts Alliance Media and Montreal-based DigiScreen Corporation, The Pillar Group and the Royal Opera House here will mean ballets, operas and dance from the Royal Opera House and other international performing arts companies will be on screens from later this month.

Shot in High Definition, the screenings will be a mix of both pre-recorded and live events, projected in digital cinema, with 5.1 surround sound, Arts Alliance Media said Tuesday.

The debut screenings will include the first cinematic performances of ballet with The Royal Ballet's award-winning production of Frederick Ashton's "Sylvia" with Darcey Bussell in the title role, and The Royal Opera's production of "Le Nozze Di Figaro," directed by David McVicar.

Other upcoming titles to be screened from the new Royal Opera House series are set to include "Sleeping Beauty," "Carmen" and "Romeo And Juliet."

In the U.K., exhibitors Odeon and Cityscreen Picturehouse cinemas have initially signed up to exhibit. The first screening will be "Figaro" on April 21 in 13 Odeon sites with Picturehouse showing the opera in up to 20 cinemas from June 22.

Arts Alliance will be responsible for cinema exhibitor booking negotiation, digital print services, security and tracking, and live event project management.

Opera in cinemas recently proved successful in Europe for both The Metropolitan Opera and the Arts Alliance Media-distributed La Scala series.

Royal Opera House chief executive Tony Hall described the move as a "pioneering new direction for the Royal Opera House at the start of the 21st Century."

Paul Chesney, director of business development for AAM said: "Digital cinema is enabling cinemas to become vibrant cultural entertainment centers, as well as movie houses."