Athens is a place full of performances, be it musical concerts, theatrical shows, dance performances or film festivals, so there are always entertainment opportunities available.
The Athena Cinema, 20 S. Court St., is providing an opportunity for a broader perspective of the arts by broadcasting the Metropolitan Opera in the theater.
There are five upcoming dates, including Feb. 1 and 29, March 14, April 11 and May 9.
Alex Kamody, director of the Athena Cinema, appreciates the opportunity that the broadcasts bring to members of Athens and of Ohio University. Kamody finds it so rewarding to be able to provide programming that wouldn’t be available in the area otherwise, as well as being able to respond to the grassroots efforts that went into bringing the series.
“We have been very pleased with the turnout,” Kamody said in an email. We also love hosting events that embrace our mission to be a shared space for our OHIO, Athens and wider Southeastern Ohio communities.”
The Met performances used to be shown at the Athena Grand, 1008 E. State St., but not as many people were showing up. In October 2019, the Athena Cinema started featuring the series and have noticed an almost full house at every showing.
Paul Barte, an associate professor of organ and music history, was instrumental in getting broadcast to screen at the Athena Cinema. Barte is offering extra credit to students in his classes if they attend the screenings.
“I mean, the success of bringing it here is really undeniable,” Barte said. “And that's really gratifying.”
Feb. 1 will screen The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, starring Eric Owens and Angel Blue in the titular roles. Feb. 29 brings Handel’s Agrippina, following a tale of deception and deceit. March 14 will showcase Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer, a mysterious seafarer searching for salvation. April 11 brings Puccini’s Tosca, a melodrama with the soprano voice stylings of Anna Netrebko. May 9 is Donizetti’s. Maria Stuarda, a pseudo-historical opera about Mary, Queen of Scots, and her rivalry with Queen Elizabeth I.
The screenings receive funding from George Weckman, a retired associate professor emeritus, the OU Performing Arts Series, Arts for OHIO and the College of Fine Arts. Patrons and Athens residents also contribute donations to make events like this happen.
Barte knows the experience has been a valuable one for his students. In an anonymous evaluation from one of his students, they wrote: “I got to see my first opera through this class, which I consider a life changing experience.”
Madison Hiegel, a junior studying fsports management and pre-law, appreciates the Athena Cinema for offering the screenings for people who may not get to see The Met Opera live otherwise.
“I think if people can’t go to other places with performances it’s definitely an important opportunity to be able to discover something that they didn’t know they liked before,” Hiegel said.
Similarly to Hiegel’s take on the screenings, Barte and Kamody agree the best part of providing the screenings at the Athena Cinema is the opportunity for people to experience a show they may otherwise never get to see.
“It’s not the same as being at a live performance,” Barte said. “But it’s the next best thing.”