Opera House To Present London’s National Theatre’s King Lear

FREDONIA – The 1891 Fredonia Opera House will present a high-definition broadcast of the stage production of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy “King Lear” on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Captured live in high definition from London’s National Theatre, this production of one of the Bard’s most popular tragedies is directed by Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes and stars Simon Russell Beale in the title role.

As the aged King Lear ponders his mortality, he decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters, according to which of them is most eloquent in praising him. When his favorite, Cordelia, says nothing, Lear’s world descends into chaos.

London’s The Guardian calls the production “an exceptional production that mixes the epic and the intimate” and calls Russell Beale “a magnetic, unorthodox and extraordinary Lear.” He has all the aspects of a Stalinesque tyrant and struts around with his massive head thrust forward as if about to devour anyone who crosses him. Yet he also inspires love and affection in Kent, Gloucester and the Fool and possesses a self-knowledge that enables him to heartbreakingly say of Cordelia, while squatting on a suitcase, ‘I did her wrong’.”

London’s National Theatre launched its Live in HD series in June 2009, and since then, has presented more than 20 productions. These broadcasts have been seen by more than 1.5 million people in more than 500 venues around the world. Though each live broadcast is filmed in front of a live audience in the theatre, cameras are carefully positioned throughout the auditorium to ensure that Live in HD audiences get the “best seat in the house” view of each production. Where these cameras are placed is different for each production to make sure that Live in HD audiences enjoy the best possible experience every time.

Tickets to “King Lear” are $15 and may be purchased in person at the Opera House Box Office or by phone at 679-1891, Tuesday through Friday, 1-5 p.m. They also may be purchased online at www.fredopera.org.

This performance is part of the Opera House’s Live in HD series of events, which is made possible by Dr. James M. and Marcia A. Merrins, who funded the purchase of the satellite transmission and projection equipment used in the series. It also is made possible, in part, with support from the United Arts Appeal of Chautauqua County.