It was the Metropolitan Opera’s season-opening gala but you didn’t have to stroll down the red carpet to enjoy the Met’s production of Madama Butterfly. A giant screen, with projection equipment provided by Scharff Weisberg, was set up on the Lincoln Center plaza for a simulcast of the tragic Puccini opera staged by motion picture director Anthony Minghella (The English Patient). The Panasonic, NASDAQ, and Reuters screens at Times Square also beamed the production to a blocked-off section of the Square.
The opening-night performance, the first new production to inaugurate a Met season in two decades, marks the beginning of the Peter Gelb era; Gelb is the 16th general manager in the Met’s 123-year history. The outdoor crowd at Lincoln Center was estimated at 3,000 people.
Planning for the challenging evening began with Scharff Weisberg consulting with the Met’s technical department on the screen type and construction. They opted for Gerriets International Gray Screen on a 36x20-foot frame built by the Met’s scenic department. Scharff Weisberg specified, installed, and aligned two Christie Roadie 25K projectors, which were chosen for their bountiful 25,000 lumen light output and native 2k resolution.
With the sun scheduled to set at 6:40pm that evening and the curtain at 6:30pm, there was plenty of apprehension that light output from the two projectors would not be sufficient to offset the remaining daylight. In actuality, the image, which originated from All Mobile Video’s HD truck “Was certainly acceptable during the first act, and, as it became darker, the image was truly cinematic,” recalls Scharff Weisberg president Josh Weisberg. “Sitting outside watching Madama with 3,000 of our closest friends was a fine way to spend an evening.”