Abstract

The Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD series has sparked interdisciplinary interest in understanding opera in twenty-first-century contexts. This article posits that the Live in HD series creates an intermedial experience for its viewers, one that forms new relationships between operatic performance and audiences through the ongoing intersections of production elements (story, text, music, mise-en-scène, performers) and media-specific concerns (spectatorial gaze, hypermediacy, immediacy, reproducibility, liveness). A reading of act I from the 2009 Metropolitan Opera simulcast of Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann engages the shifting relations regarding the human and the technological as presented to the Live in HD viewer from the vantage point of on, back, beside, in front of, and yet completely discrete from the Lincoln Center stage.

The mediated and mediatized relationships engendered by this constant resituating of the audience create a sense of the familiar rendered strange, of being somehow out of place in one's relation to the stage. Media and performance theory are employed in concert with Freud's influential work on the uncanny to describe this as the “intermedial uncanny”: an important aspect of this emergent audience experience.

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