“L’amour de loin” (Love from Afar), Finnish composer #Kaija Saariaho’s successful opera set in the Middle Ages, had its #Metropolitan Opera premiere last December, during the 2016-17 season. French Canadian Director Robert Lepage designed an ocean for the Met’s stage, made of more than 38,000 LED lights, producing a shimmering moonlit sea. Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki debuted leading the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus and American soloists in eight performances. On Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, hundreds of thousands of remote opera-goers in cinemas throughout the world saw a live high-definition broadcast of the work. Monday, Aug. 28, will be the only chance to see a replay of that broadcast, in Lincoln Center Plaza.

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On Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, hundreds of thousands of remote opera-goers in cinemas throughout the world saw a live high-definition broadcast of the work. Monday, Aug. 28, will be the only chance to see a replay of that broadcast, in Lincoln Center Plaza.

The story of ‘a far-off love’

Soprano Susanna Phillips is Clémence, Countess of Tripoli, the far-off love object, on Libya’s shores, whom bass-baritone Eric Owens as Jaufré Rudel—Prince of Blaye, in 12th-century France’s Aquitaine, a troubadour obsessed with idealized love—courts with the help of mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford, the unnamed Pilgrim, a welcome interloper willing to traverse the ocean delivering the lovers’ messages. Lebanese-born French author Amin Maalouf and Kaija Saariaho met in Paris, where they both had settled.

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They developed the story, he fashioned his libretto from a medieval legend rising around the historical Jaufré, and she set to work in earnest in 1999. The world premiere took place 17 years ago at the prestigious Salzburg Festival. Santa Fe Opera gave the U.S. premiere. Already “L’amour de loin” has enjoyed a respectable presence on opera stages

Lebanese-born French author Amin Maalouf and Kaija Saariaho met in Paris, where they both had settled. They developed the story, he fashioned his libretto from a medieval legend rising around the historical Jaufré, and she set to work in earnest in 1999. The world premiere took place 17 years ago at the prestigious Salzburg Festival. Santa Fe Opera gave the U.S. premiere. Already “L’amour de loin” has enjoyed a respectable presence on opera stages worldwide.

Touted by the press

“The New York Times”’s Anthony Tommasini calls debuting conductor Susana Mälkki “brilliant” and “impressive” and says the opera itself is “one of the most important events of the [2016-17] season.” Zachary Woolfe trumpets it as “one of the most acclaimed and widely performed works of the 21st century.” Michael Cooper says the composer’s music is “shimmering, colorful and luminous.” Its director, Robert Lepage calls it “bewitching and hypnotic,” and Zachary Woolfe describes it as “a bell-like, jewel-like, sinuous landscape, punctuated by dramatic orchestral explosions … a very grand intimate opera.” Kaija Saariaho herself says, “My music is written for ears; you don’t need to intellectualize it.

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You just need to let yourself enter.” “The New Yorker” magazine’s Alex Ross calls it “luminous, molten.”

Why see an opera on-screen

#Everything Music and Theatre recommends Metropolitan Opera’s HD Festival because it projects the outdoor series on a gigantic screen, which means a soprano can appear 20 feet tall. It also means, thanks to carefully planned videography, that the audience can take in everything, from complete tableaux to tiny details—far exceeding the naked eye’s range of possibilities. Acoustically, the sound was recorded in high definition, and the speakers used for the replay are capable of reproducing sounds closest to an actual orchestra and live singers. So the audience will have the chance to get to know “L’amour de loin” intimately, in ways impossible to the in-theater audiences last December.

The complete series

Projection starts at 8:00 p.m. unless otherwise indicated; all running times approximate:

  • Friday, Aug. 25, “The Magic Flute” (pre-festival event): Ingmar Bergman’s award-winning film adaptation of Mozart’sDie Zauberflöte” (1975). Duration: 2:15.
  • Saturday, Aug. 26, “Rigoletto” (Giuseppe Verdi): Željko Lučić, Diana Damrau, Piotr Beczała; Michele Marrioti conducts. Duration: 2:20.
  • Sunday, Aug. 27 (7:45 p.m.), “Il barbiere di Siviglia” (Gioachino Rossini): Peter Mattei, Joyce DiDonato, Juan Diego Flórez; Maurizio Benini conducts. Duration: 2:45.
  • Monday, Aug. 28, “L’amour de loin” (Kaija Saariaho): Susanna Phillips, Tamara Mumford, Eric Owens; Susanna Mälkki conducts. Duration: 2:15.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 29, “Manon Lescaut” (Giacomo Puccini): Kristine Opolais, Roberto Alagna; Fabio Luisi conducts. Duration: 2:10.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 30, “Roberto Devereux” (Gaetano Donizetti): Sondra Radvanovsky, Elīna Garanča, Matthew Polenzani, Mariusz Kwiecień; Maurizio Benini conducts. Duration: 2:30.
  • Thursday, Aug. 31, “Tristan und Isolde,” Act I (Richard Wagner): Nina Stemme, Stuart Skelton, Ekaterina Gubanova, Evgeny Nikitin, René Pape; Sir Simon Rattle conducts. Duration: 1:45.
  • Friday, Sept. 1, “Tristan und Isolde,” Acts II and III. Duration: 2:35.
  • Saturday, Sept. 2, “Eugene Onegin” (Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky): Anna Netrebko, Peter Mattei; Robin Ticciati conducts. Duration: 2:40.
  • Sunday, Sept. 3, “Nabucco” (Giuseppe Verdi): Plácido Domingo. Liudmyla Monastyrska, Jamie Barton, Russell Thomas, Dmitry Belosselskiy; James Levine conducts. Duration: 2:25.
  • Monday, Sept. 4, “La Traviata” (Giuseppe Verdi): Sonya Yoncheva, Michael Fabiano, Thomas Hampson; Nicola Luisotti conducts. Duration: 2:20.

Just 3,000 seats are available first-come, first-served. No tickets needed; admission is free. No rain dates.

L’amour de loin,” by Kaija Saariaho, Monday, Aug. 28, at Lincoln Center Plaza (in front of Metropolitan Opera Theater), Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York, N.Y.