Well, sorta.

Last year, in a bid to remain at the center of American high culture, the Metropolitan Opera in New York began broadcasting in high definition to theaters nationwide. So far, the results have been stellar. People are proving eager to see opera in this new media format, one using multiple angles, superb clarity and cinematic movement.

Seeing is believing. You can also visit the Met’s MySpace page to see more.

Charlestonians get a chance to see the Met’s Saturday afternoon broadcasts in two ways. One is commercial, at the Azalea Square movie theater in Summerville. Tickets $15-$22. The ticket gets you a great seat, great sound and a great view of this “opera movie.” If you don’t want to spend the money, go to the Charleston Country Public Library’s downtown branch. Getting in is free, but the seats aren’t as cozy and the screen is probably a third of the size of your big-screen venues. Still, it’s free and open to the public. You get, as usual, what you pay for.

This is the schedule for the upcoming broadcasts from the Met’s website.

Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette

Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007 (1–4:30 p.m. ET)

Running time: 3 hours, 30 minutes. 1 intermission

Gounod’s ultra-sensual interpretation of Shakespeare is an ideal vehicle for star soprano Anna Netrebko and the remarkable tenor Roberto Alagna, both of whom bring their incandescent appeal to the title roles. The irresistible Nathan Gunn is Mercutio and Plácido Domingo presides on the podium.

Conductor Plácido Domingo; Production Guy Joosten; Anna Netrebko, Isabel Leonard, Roberto Alagna, Nathan Gunn, Robert Lloyd

Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel (new production)

Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2008 (1–3:35 p.m. ET)

Running time: 2 hours, 35 minutes. 1 intermission

Most fairy tales, though charming on the outside, have darker underpinnings. Alice Coote and Christine Schäfer play the siblings lost in a shadowy world of unknown menace, pursued by the Witch (portrayed by tenor Philip Langridge) who seeks to devour them. The English-language production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s masterful treatment of the beloved story by the Brothers Grimm is the second in the Met’s annual series of special holiday presentations.

Conductor Vladimir Jurowski; Production Richard Jones; Christine Schäfer, Alice Coote, Rosalind Plowright, Philip Langridge, Alan Held

Verdi’s Macbeth (new production)

Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008 (1:30–4:50 p.m. ET)

Running time: 3 hours, 20 minutes. 1 intermission

Giuseppe Verdi’s longstanding affinity for Shakespeare is explored in Adrian Noble’s dark yet exhilarating vision for this disturbing work. James Levine conducts and acclaimed baritone Lado Ataneli stars in the towering title role. Bass-baritone John Relyea plays the role of the doomed Banquo.

Conductor James Levine; Production Adrian Noble; Maria Guleghina, Roberto Aronica, Lado Ataneli, John Relyea

Puccini’s Manon Lescaut

Saturday, Feb. 16, 2008 (1–4:41 p.m. ET)

Running time: 3 hours, 41 minutes. 3 intermissions

On the heels of her triumph in Jenůfa, Finnish phenomenon Karita Mattila adds another landmark role to her Met repertory, the free-spirited beauty Manon Lescaut. The story of the magnetic attraction between two young lovers is the perfect vehicle for the soprano’s exhilarating charisma, especially when matched by the ardent tenor of Marcello Giordani. Music Director James Levine conducts his first Met performances of the work since 1981.

Conductor James Levine; Karita Mattila, Marcello Giordani, Dwayne Croft, Dale Travis

Britten’s Peter Grimes (new production)

Saturday, March 15, 2008 (1:30–5:15 pm ET)

Running time: 3 hours, 45 minutes. 2 intermissions

Peter Grimes is under investigation for unthinkable transgressions, yet Benjamin Britten’s probing exploration of the nature of guilt and judgment implicates an entire fishing village. Director John Doyle, a Tony Award® winner for his interpretation of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, makes his Met debut answering the challenges of this modern masterpiece. Tenor Anthony Dean Griffey takes on the complex title role. The riveting Patricia Racette plays Ellen Orford, the woman who refuses to abandon him. Featuring what may be 20th-century opera’s most impressive tenor role, Peter Grimes, with its sweeping orchestral beauty, will be an engrossing and haunting theatrical journey.

Conductor Donald Runnicles; Production John Doyle; Patricia Racette, Anthony Dean Griffey, Anthony Michaels-Moore

Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde

Saturday, March 22, 2008 (12:30–6:05 p.m. ET)

Running time: 5 hours, 35 minute. 2 intermissions

Met Music Director and eminent Wagnerian James Levine conducts this much anticipated revival. Deborah Voigt, one of the world’s most celebrated Wagnerian sopranos, undertakes this iconic role for the first time at the Met. The leading Tristan of our time, Ben Heppner, portrays the other half of this archetypal couple on their mystical journey of love, sex, and death.

Conductor James Levine; Production Dieter Dorn; Deborah Voigt, Michelle DeYoung, Ben Heppner, Eike Wilm Schulte, Matti Salminen

Puccini’s La Bohème

Saturday, April 5, 2008 (1:30–4:50 p.m. ET)

Running time: 3 hours, 20 minutes. 2 intermissions

A magnificent cast comes together for Franco Zeffirelli’s iconic production of the Puccini favorite. The exciting young conductor Nicola Luisotti presides over a glorious vocal ensemble led by the mesmerizing Angela Gheorghiu, who sings Mimì at the Met for the first time in twelve years, opposite golden-toned tenor Ramón Vargas as her lover, Rodolfo.

Conductor Nicola Luisotti; Production Franco Zeffirelli; Angela Gheorghiu, Ainhoa Arteta, Ramón Vargas, Ludovic Tézier, Quinn Kelsey, Oren Gradus, Paul Plishka

Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment (new production)

Saturday, April 26, 2008 (1:30–4:40 p.m. ET)

Running time: 3 hours, 10 minutes. 1 intermission

Experience the “exceedingly yummy operatic cake” that was called “the operatic show of the season” by The Times of London when it opened at Covent Garden this past winter. Audiences were dazzled by Natalie Dessay’s fearless coloratura and impeccable comic timing and by Juan Diego Flórez’s remarkable musicality—complete with the famous high Cs. Dessay and Flórez are an “operatic coupling made in heaven” raved the Financial Times. Directed by Laurent Pelly, the production also boasts stage legend and four-time Tony Award® winner Zoe Caldwell as the Duchess of Krakenthorp.

Conductor Marco Armiliato; Production Laurent Pelly; Natalie Dessay, Felicity Palmer, Juan Diego Flórez, Alessandro Corbelli, Zoe Caldwell