Should I see the performance live, or should I attend the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD screening at BAM’s Rose Cinema? Lucky for me I have the option. I usually do a little of both. There is nothing like the thrill of being in the opera house and hearing the music and voices live — no amplification. I have a voracious cultural appetite but I also need to pay the rent, so I am always in the Family Circle which is the Met’s equivalent of the boondocks — but no matter. I feel lucky that these affordable seats even exist. Today, however, I attended the screening of Les Contes d’Hoffmann at BAM, with the pre-broadcast lecture. How wonderful to hear an expert expound upon the history of the opera — the delicious little-known facts that really enhance the whole experience. Then, the live behind-the-scenes shots both before the opera begins and during intermissions. You see interviews with the performers, and watch the teamsters build the sets. It’s incredible. You also get to see the actual acting, dancing, costumes, and staging up close — so close that I have seen rips in costumes and wigs askew! Les Contes d’Hoffmann was a super choice to see in HD because the costumes and staging were so creative. In fact, the performance was downright erotic in a courtesan-meets-cabaret style. I learned from the lecture that Offenbach died before this, his only grand opera, was finished. I think this production would thrill him if he could experience it. As for me, I consider my Live in HD lecture and screening of this delightful opera a most excellent use of a bitterly cold afternoon.