The Met: Live in HD, the Metropolitan Opera’s award-winning series of live transmissions to movie theaters around the world, has expanded its worldwide distribution to 1,600 theaters in 54 countries, the largest global audience the initiative has ever reached. Locally, the broadcasts are transmitted to the Strand Theatre, 345 Main St.

The sixth season of live transmissions will begin Saturday, Oct. 15 with the Met premiere production of Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena,” featuring Anna Netrebko in the title role. She stars in the first transmission to be shown in her native country, joined by Russian colleagues Ekaterina Gubanova as Jane Seymour and Ildar Abdrazakov as Enrico (Henry VIII).

The opera, directed by David McVicar and conducted by Marco Armiliato, is based on the final, tragic days of Anne Boleyn and has been a dramatic and vocal showcase for some of the greatest sopranos in operatic history. The opera will begin at 12:55 p.m.; all seats are reserved and are $27 (season passes are available). An encore screening is set for 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, $23 for general admission seats. For tickets, call 594-0070 or visit

In addition to Netrebko, the 2011-12 Live in HD season features many of the opera world’s most prominent stars including Stephanie Blythe, David Daniels, Natalie Dessay, Joyce DiDonato, Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Jonas Kaufmann, Mariusz Kwiecien, René Pape, Marina Poplavskaya, Bryn Terfel and Deborah Voigt. The season features 11 transmissions, which include a Met premiere, a world premiere, three new productions of repertory favorites and the final two installments of a new Ring cycle.

Natalie Dessay, Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Eric Owens, Patricia Racette and Deborah Voigt will serve as hosts for the Live in HD presentations this season, conducting live interviews with cast, crew and production teams and introducing the popular behind-the-scenes interviews and features.

Joyce DiDonato, David Daniels, Plácido Domingo, Danielle de Niese and Luca Pisaroni are among the stars of “The Enchanted Island” (Jan. 21), a world premiere work inspired by the musical pastiches and masques of the 18th century. Devised and written by Jeremy Sams with a story drawn from Shakespeare, “The Enchanted Island” showcases arias and ensembles by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau and others. William Christie conducts the production, which is directed by Phelim McDermott.

Tony Award-winning directors Michael Grandage and Des McAnuff make their respective Met debuts with new productions of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” (Oct. 29) and Gounod’s “Faust” (Dec. 10). Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leads “Don Giovanni,” which stars Mariusz Kwiecien in his first Met performances of the title role opposite Barbara Frittoli, Ramón Vargas, Luca Pisaroni and debuting sopranos Marina Rebeka and Mojca Erdmann. Jonas Kaufmann, Marina Poplavskaya and René Pape take on the demanding leading roles of “Faust,” conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Netrebko sings her second title role this season in the new production of Massenet’s “Manon” (April 7), conducted by Luisi, directed by Laurent Pelly and also starring Piotr Beczala and Paulo Szot. Robert Lepage’s groundbreaking new staging of Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen” reaches its spectacular conclusion with new productions of “Siegfried” (Nov. 5) conducted by Luisi and “Götterdämmerung” (Feb. 11), conducted by Levine. “Siegfried” stars Deborah Voigt, Gary Lehman, Eric Owens and Bryn Terfel; Voigt, Lehman and Owens also star in “Götterdämmerung.”

Other highlights of the Live in HD season include Philip Glass’s “Satyagraha,” based on the life of Gandhi in an inspiring production by McDermott that stars Richard Croft (Nov. 19); Renée Fleming in one of her greatest portrayals, the virtuosic title role of Handel’s “Rodelinda” (Dec. 3), also starring Stephanie Blythe and Andreas Scholl; Verdi’s “Ernani,” starring rising soprano Angela Meade opposite experienced Verdians Marcello Giordani, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Ferruccio Furlanetto (Feb. 25); and Natalie Dessay in her Met role debut as Violetta in Willy Decker’s production of Verdi’s “La Traviata,” also starring Matthew Polenzani and Hvorostovsky and conducted by Luisi.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to