The Metropolitan Opera comes to Orcas Center Stage

Madame Butterfly.

The Metropolitan Opera is coming to Orcas Island next week in all of its glamour and show – the lights, the stage, elaborate costumes and world-class divas.

Orcas Center will show Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 1, streamed to a custom calibrated, 24- by 13-foot projection screen installed on the Center Stage. The showing is part of the “Summer HD Encores” series, a selection of screenings from the Metropolitan Opera Series, “Live in HD” series. The Summer Encore series showcases the best of performances from past seasons, and will not be streamed live.

The Met Live takes you backstage, they do interviews .. it makes it a very rich viewing experience,” said Orcas Center director Kara O’Toole. “You get much more intimate than you would if you were sitting in the Metropolitan; you get all these different angles and intimacy you would only get through a camera.”

A recent Digital Expansion campaign has raised nearly $36,000 to purchase the equipment Orcas Center needs in order to stream productions from the Live Metropolitan Opera and HD Opera Encore Series, as well as the National Theater of Great Britain. O’Toole expects more options to come available soon, and will gear her choices towards areas of community interest.

While some islanders might just now be grinning with glee over the thought of using the giant, hi-def screen to watch the World Cup or display the latest conspiracy documentary, “That doesn’t really fall under our mission,” says O’Toole gently. The equipment will be available for rent by interested groups, and the projector can be connected to a satellite or a laptop as desired.

The idea is that it would be affordable; we want it to be used,” she said.

A press release by the center reads, “Orcas Center is opening the door to a new world of digital and streamed possibilities for the entire San Juan County, imagining all sorts of events happening: films, school education programs, lectures, conferences, and live streaming of opera, theater, dance, perhaps even the Oscars!”

For Orcas Center-hosted shows, O’Toole said the center will pay 50 percent of its ticket sales to the provider, By Experience, which handles all the Metropolitan Live streaming. There is no minimum charge.

There is no real cost to them because of the technology,” she said.

Madama Butterfly was originally streamed live by the Metropolitan Opera in March 2009. Now a classic of the Met repertory, it first opened in the 2007-2007 season.

Patricia Racette sings the title role in the late Academy Award winning film director Anthony Minghella’s stunning production of Puccini’s tragedy,” said front of house manager Artha Kass. Marcello Giordani is American Navy Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton, and Dwayne Croft and Maria Zifchak co-star. Patrick Summers conducts.”

The center will be the only venue in the county granted rights to stream Metropolitan Opera productions.

The equipment will be fabricated and installed by Dimensional Communications in Mt. Vernon, which O’Toole calls “top-notch.”

Fundraising for the campaign was jumpstarted by a $4,200 grant from the Orcas Island Community Foundation; large donations of $8,000 and $10,000 followed, along with many smaller donations. It has funded the purchase of the projection screen, a Christie digital projector and lens, two satellites and electrics for live streaming. The second satellite is a backup in case of technical disruptions during a performance.

There has been such an outpouring of support,” said O’Toole. “It’s been a fast and furious campaign… It’s something that’s already valuable to a lot of folks in the community.”

She said center staff, board members, and community members have expressed interest over the past months. She said many have gone to Seattle or Mt. Vernon’s Lincoln Theater to see live streaming of productions.

Ticket prices for Madama Butterfly will be $15, $11 for students, and $2 off for members. To purchase tickets, call 376-2281, ext. 1, visit the center during box office hours, or visit


Future Showings for The Met: Live in HD Summer Encore Series

All screening will be held at 7:30 Orcas Center.

Madama Butterfly (Puccini): Friday, July 1

Don Pasquale (Donizetti): Wednesday, July 6

Simon Boccanegra (Verdi): Saturday, July 9

La Fille du Régiment (Donizetti): Friday, July 15

Tosca (Puccini): Friday, July 29

Don Carlo (Verdi): Friday, August 5