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by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & Met Opera Broadcasts & r &

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & hat if they covered the arts the same way they do the Super Bowl? Announcers would do pre- and post-game analysis; there'd be multiple camera angles and locker room interviews; people would be watching all over the world.

They're broadcasting opera like that right now. In New York and San Francisco last December, people stopped what they were doing to gather outside and watch giant screens carrying "The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD," just as if they were watching a football game. And if live opera broadcasts can sell out in Tromso, Norway, why not here?

"All the color and pageantry just jumped out at you from the big screen," says Marie Moe of the Opera Buffs of Spokane, recalling a recent broadcast of The First Emperor, a contemporary opera starring Placido Domingo about the Chinese leader who built the Great Wall. She cites the blend of Eastern and Western musical instruments and the live interviews with the singers during intermission as some of that broadcast's highlights.

Spokane's opera veterans and neophytes will have several chances in the next two months to duplicate that experience, beginning this Saturday morning with a live broadcast from New York of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin.

American soprano Renee Fleming will sing the role of Tatiana and white-haired Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky will sing Onegin in a tale of unrequited love, double-crossed. In the opera's first half, you see, Tatiana longs for Onegin but he rejects her; in the second half, positions are reversed, with Onegin as passionate suitor and Tatiana both unreceptive and married.

With rebroadcasts (on tape) of The First Emperor coming up (March 7 and March 11) and with live performances of a couple of comic operas coming up -- The Barber of Seville (March 24) and the three one-acts of Puccini's Il Trittico (April 28) -- there will be more opportunities for the winning-over of converts.

Moe notes that while attendance at the NorthTown showings of the Met Opera has largely been limited to members of her Opera Buffs club, that's likely to change as word gets out of the Met's attempt at broadening its audience on a global scale.

If they can sell it out in Tromso, they can do it in Spokane.

"The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD" will broadcast Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin live from New York to more than 150 movie theaters in North America, Europe and Japan (including the Regal Cinemas NorthTown Stadium 12 at Division and Wellesley Ave.) on Saturday, Feb. 24, from 10:30 am-1:45 pm. Tickets: $18; $15, students. Encore (taped) performances of The First Emperor will be shown on March 7 and March 11. Other upcoming live broadcasts include Rossini's The Barber of Seville on March 24 and Puccini's Il Trittico on April 28. Visit or call 535-7051.

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