New York's MetropolitanOpera has announced plans to transmit high-defintion live performances of itsproductions to cinemas in North America and Europe.

The multi-media initiative,which also encompasses webcasts, HD television and radio, will tap the growingnetwork of HD projection cinemas in circuits including National CineMedia (aventure of AMC Entertainment, Cinemark USA and Regal Entertainment Group) inthe US, Cineplex Entertainment in Canada and Odeon/UCI in the UK and Europe.The Met says it is in discussion with potential cinema partners in Asia.

Among the six productions tobe presented is Julie Taymor's The Magic Flute, conducted by James Levine, which will launch theprogramme on December 30. Coincidentally, Kenneth Branagh's screen adaptationof that same Mozart opera will be presented in simultaneous world premieres atthe Toronto and Venice film festivals.

Following 30 daywindows, the productions will be broadcast on HD and conventional services viathe US Public Broadcast Service (PBS) by Thirteen/WNET. PBS is a coproducer ofthe six programmes. RealNetworks will provide live-streaming of the productionsvia the Met's website.

The otherproductions are I Puritani starring Anna Netrebko on January 6, 2007; the world premiereproduction of Tan Dun's The First Emperor with Placido Domingo, on January 13;Eugene Onegin on February 24; The Barber of Seville with Juan Diego Florez on March 24; and IlTrittico, conducted byLevine and directed by Jack O'Brien, on April 28.