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    Stream These 7 Productions That Celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s Work

    Here’s a guide to films, documentaries and other productions that provide insight into the composer-lyricist’s sly wit and melodic acumen.Stephen Sondheim, the composer and lyricist who died on Friday at age 91, had an unparalleled influence on contemporary theater. Revivals of two of his shows are currently onstage in New York — the gender-swapped version of “Company” on Broadway and the starry production of “Assassins” Off Broadway at the Classic Stage Company — and Steven Spielberg’s new film adaptation of “West Side Story” will be released on Dec. 10.But there are a few dozen ways to encounter Sondheim’s sly wit, melodic acumen and astonishing moral complexity from the comfort of your sofa. Not that he ever lets you get too comfortable. Unlike many of his peers, Sondheim has been served fairly well by film and video. Here are some of the best ways to watch the work of the man who gave us more to see.‘Original Cast Album: Company’Sondheim’s penetrating study of modern love and even more modern ambivalence is a classic. For a rich encounter with the material, try D.A. Pennebaker’s 1970 documentary, which details the contentious attempts to record the original cast album at the Church, a Columbia Records studio in Midtown Manhattan. A pleasure throughout and a useful insight into a communal creative process, the movie turns electric when the camera captures Elaine Stritch trying and failing to lay down the devastating track “The Ladies Who Lunch.”Stream it on the Criterion Channel.‘Gypsy’Though dinged at the time for casting Rosalind Russell as the stage monster Mama Rose — rather than Ethel Merman, who had created the role — Mervyn LeRoy’s 1962 movie offers a backstage pass to bygone forms of American entertainment: vaudeville and burlesque. Moving nimbly among moods and styles, Sondheim’s lyrics range from utterly innocent (“Little Lamb”) to tastily racy (“You Gotta Get a Gimmick”), with at least one number, “Rose’s Turn,” that suggests the radical revision of the musical that he would later attempt.Stream it on HBO Max; rent it on Vudu, YouTube, Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play.‘Into the Woods’Bernadette Peters rehearsing with Sondheim in 1987 during the original cast recording of the Broadway musical “Into the Woods.”Oliver Morris/Getty ImagesEnjoy, if you must, Rob Marshall’s overblown 2014 adaptation of this fairy tale concatenation. But the 1987 version, recorded for PBS’s “American Playhouse” and available on Apple TV, is a superb example of pre-“Hamilton” performance capture, preserving the indelible performances of Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleeson and Chip Zien. Children will listen, so watch it with yours. The first act, anyway. Or for a more modern take, try the 2010 version, recorded live in London’s Regent’s Park and streamable on Broadway HD, with Hannah Waddingham, of “Ted Lasso,” as the witch.Rent the 1987 version from Apple TV and Amazon Prime.Stream the 2010 version from Broadway HD.‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’A work of impeccable silliness and absolute froth, the 1966 film version of this meringue-like musical, stitched together from a handful of Plautus comedies, stars Zero Mostel as a scheming servant and Jack Gilford as a gentler one, with the future Phantom Michael Crawford as the love-struck master. It’s available on several platforms. The songs are flimsy when compared with Sondheim’s later work, but they delight — from the assertiveness of “Comedy Tonight” to the cheekiness of “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid” and the breezy whimsy of “Lovely.”Stream it on Pluto TV and Tubi; rent it on YouTube, Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play and Vudu.‘Sunday in the Park With George’An incomparable study of the profit and cost of artistic creation, this 1984 musical, loosely based on the life of Georges Seurat, was captured in 1986 with Mandy Patinkin as the pointillist painter and Peters as his muse, Dot. The filmic shades are muddied — a shame for an artist so obsessed with color and light. But Sondheim’s rigor and originality sound clear in songs like “Finishing the Hat,” “Children and Art” and “Move On.”Stream it on Apple TV.‘Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration’Audra McDonald, Meryl Streep and Christine Baranski celebrating Sondheim’s 90th birthday in April 2020.Broadway.comIf your preferred form of tribute involves a generous pour, a good cry and an invitation to sing along, lift your voice to this online offering, assembled last year and available in full on YouTube. Hosted by Raúl Esparza, its quality is uneven, a consequence of first-wave Zoom theater. But it still moves deftly across and through his six-decade career and offers performances by unmatched interpreters, including Patinkin (“Lesson #8” from “Sunday in the Park With George”), Donna Murphy (“Send in the Clowns” from “A Little Night Music”), Patti LuPone (“Anyone Can Whistle”), Bernadette Peters (“No One Is Alone” from “Into the Woods”) and the peerless triad of Audra McDonald, Christine Baranski and Meryl Streep (“The Ladies Who Lunch” from “Company”). Everybody rise? Why not?Stream it on YouTube. More

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    Broadway Play “Clyde's” Will Be Livestreamed

    The digital experimentation born of the pandemic shutdown is continuing: the final 16 performances of Lynn Nottage’s “Clyde’s” will be streamed, for $59.The coronavirus closures prompted many theaters around the country to experiment with online offerings. Now, even though theaters have reopened, a new Broadway play is planning to try streaming some performances.Second Stage Theater, a nonprofit that operates a small Broadway house, plans to sell a limited number of real-time, virtual viewings in January for the final 16 performances of “Clyde’s,” a dramedy about a group of ex-cons working at a sandwich shop. The show, by the two-time Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage, opens Tuesday.The decision to stream some performances, which Second Stage views as an experiment, suggests that some of the survival strategies theaters embraced during the pandemic could have a lasting effect on the art form.“Over the 18 months when we had to pivot, and shift a lot of storytelling to Zoom, that opened up a new door of opportunity for many of us who make theater,” Nottage said. “What we’re hoping is that folks who are reluctant to come out because of the virus, or for whom theater is not accessible, will have access because of this streaming.”They are not aiming for a mass audience. The streams will cost $59, which is the same price as the least expensive ticket at the box office, so as not to undercut in-person sales. (There will also be a $30 ticket for people aged 30 and under, as with in-person performances.)The virtual tickets will be limited in number — probably to around 200 to 300 a performance — because as part of an agreement with labor unions, the theater will cap the number of streaming tickets sold so as not to exceed the total capacity of the theater over the course of the play’s run.The move is significant because, even though the Metropolitan Opera has been streaming performances to cinemas for years, and a number of leading symphony orchestras have long been streaming their concerts, Broadway has been resistant to such a step, in part because of quality concerns, in part because of the cost of compensating artists, and in part because of a fear of eroding the appetite for in-person attendance.In 2016, when BroadwayHD live-streamed a single performance of the Roundabout Theater Company’s revival of “She Loves Me,” the event was so unusual that it was recognized by Guinness World Records; a few months later, the same company also live-streamed a performance of Roundabout’s “Holiday Inn.”The pandemic prompted theaters to take digital work more seriously: with their buildings closed, many Off Broadway and regional theaters, as well as some prominent theaters in Britain, embraced streaming as one way to continue connecting to audiences. There were complications both mundane (which labor unions represent theater artists onscreen?) and existential (what is theater, anyway?), but one upside was increased access for people unlikely to attend in-person performances because of disability, geography or finances.For Broadway shows, there were some limited pandemic experiments with filmed performances, but not livestreaming. A “Hamilton” movie, using footage shot and edited in 2016, was released during the pandemic by a streaming platform, as was a filmed version of David Byrne’s “American Utopia”; the musicals “Come From Away” and “Diana” filmed invitation-only run-throughs during the pandemic, and those filmed performances were also released on streaming platforms.Now, as theaters reopen, some are discussing the pros and cons, as well as the feasibility, of a so-called hybrid model, in which stage shows can be seen either in-person or at home. Second Stage, working with the company Assemble Stream, earlier this fall offered its subscribers an opportunity to livestream some performances of an epistolary Off Broadway play, “Letters of Suresh”; encouraged by that experience, the nonprofit decided to try the hybrid approach for “Clyde’s,” which is its first post-shutdown Broadway show.“In-person activity is our priority, but we’ve learned a lot from the pandemic, as far as finding other ways of engaging with audiences,” said Khady Kamara, the executive director of Second Stage. There are a number of potential audiences — those still leery of public gatherings, those who live outside the New York area, those with a variety of accessibility concerns — and Nottage said she also hopes at some point that the play could be streamed in prisons.Kamara said the theater would livestream “Clyde’s,” which stars Uzo Aduba and Ron Cephas Jones, in real time during performances from Jan. 4 to Jan. 16 — it can’t be watched on demand.Is there a risk that the project will dissuade people from coming to see the show at the theater? “I really believe that the magic of being inside the theater, and being so close to the stage, is not something that goes away,” Kamara said. “I think that most people are still going to want to go with the in-person experience.”The performances will be captured by five to seven cameras mounted by Assemble Stream inside the Helen Hayes Theater; the footage will be edited, remotely, in real time, as with a live television broadcast, according to Katie McKenna, the company’s vice president of marketing and business development.Kamara and McKenna said the theater would not need to remove any seats to accommodate the cameras, and that the cameras would not obstruct any patron’s sightlines; the cameras will be operated remotely. “Our goal is to be as nondisruptive as possible,” McKenna said.Neither party would detail the financing arrangement, but Kamara said, “To begin with, we’re not looking at this as a revenue stream, as much as we’re looking at it as an additional avenue for us to provide access to the work that we put on our stages.”And will Second Stage seek to stream other Broadway shows in the future? Kamara described the “Clyde’s” streaming as a pilot project. “We are learning, and will continue to learn, and we’ll see what the future holds,” she said. “Certainly, if there is a market for it, hopefully we’re able to continue to offer it.” More

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    How Do You Make Teen Comedies Today? Buy a High School.

    LIVERPOOL, N.Y. — The teenage couple is lounging on the lawn outside a high school, taking advantage of a free period between classes in that age-old way: making out on the quad. A friend runs over, clearly agitated by a drama unfolding elsewhere, and asks for help. The duo reluctantly gets up and follows, dragging their backpacks behind them.Then there’s another interruption to their moment. The director, Sammi Cohen, yells cut. An actor, Tyler Alvarez, asks for another take. “One more, real quick,” he says.This is an early fall day, back to school at American High. The school has not had actual students in the halls for years, but it is once again home to high school drama of the sort generally captured in R-rated teenage comedies.Sitting inconspicuously in the far corner of that grassy area is Jeremy Garelick, 46, a writer/director/producer and the maestro of the American High experiment. Wearing an American High baseball cap, red-tinted sunglasses and a pair of headphones slung around his neck, he watched the scenes on an enormous iPad for this latest American High production, an untitled lesbian love story about an aspiring young artist who’s forced to join her high school track team.He nodded along with the action and laughed as the jokes landed. (“If you go down, I’m going down with you … like the Titanic,” generated a particular chuckle.)Jeremy Garelick, right, with his producing partner Will Phelps, on the school bus they purchased after Mr. Garelick bought the school for $1 million several years ago.Libby March for The New York TimesMr. Garelick, best known as the director of “The Wedding Ringer” and the screenwriter of “The Break Up,” is betting that the time is right now for a surge in hormonal high jinks captured on film: teen stories for the sensibilities of the Gen Z streaming generation. After all, it has been roughly two decades since tales of love, sex and related high school humiliations had created financial and cultural hits like “American Pie” and “Can’t Hardly Wait,” films that themselves were grabbing the baton from 1980s John Hughes classics.Studios, focused on special effects-laden blockbusters that make going to the movie theater into an event, don’t share his conviction. They now shy away from this kind of mid-budget-range film because of the marketing costs needed to help turn it into a box office success — and the risky proposition of selling something to the fickle teen audience. Back in 2007, the comedy “Superbad,” starring then-relative unknowns Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, became a significant hit, earning $170 million in worldwide grosses. Yet fast forward a decade to the female version of that gross-out comedy, the Olivia Wilde-directed “Booksmart,” which was beloved by critics and also featured an up-and-coming cast, but only earned $25 million in box office receipts. It all looks a bit too perilous for the big studios.Chris Weitz, the co-director of “American Pie” and one of the producers of Ms. Cohen’s film, attributes the shift to technology that puts audiences in control.“It was one thing when the gatekeepers, usually old fogies, controlled what kind of content was going to be put out about teens,” he said. “Now teens can get all kinds of content about themselves made by themselves, which gives them a greater sense of truth to them than something that any feature film producer would cook up.”With that landscape in mind, Mr. Garelick decided to make the films really inexpensively on his own. If done correctly, they could easily be funneled onto streaming platforms, which are constantly on the hunt for new material, especially content that attracts the ever elusive teen audience.He figured out if he shot two movies back-to-back in one location he could save one-third of his production costs. If he shot three, he could save half. He could be like the now begone film studio New Line, applying the “Lord of the Rings’” cost-savings method to the world of teen comedy. Peter Jackson relied on the verdant landscape of New Zealand for his Hobbit-driven epic.Mr. Garelick would have an abandoned school.“That’s when I had my ‘aha moment’” he said. “This is how I’m going to make my high school movies. Nobody out there is making them. Now is the time to get into it.”In today’s complex content ecosystem, studios are spending more and more to lure general audiences to theaters with blockbuster franchise films while the streamers are primarily trying to keep their fragmented audiences glued to their services by offering niche content. Teen comedies might not have enough consistent commercial potential for the studios, but Mr. Garelick thought that if he could offer a consistent flow of films, surely a streaming service would bite. And if he were to find a location where he could take advantage of the tax incentives given by local governments, his dollars would go further and he could benefit from the support of the local community.First, he needed a school, something brick and stately, at once lived-in but also easily adaptable for any high school scene. He thought of the basic settings in almost every teen comedy: a school gymnasium, a cafeteria, classrooms, hallways, an auditorium.It also had to be located in a state offering significant tax incentives. After some Google searching, Mr. Garelick and his then assistant and now producing partner, Will Phelps, 30, flew to Syracuse and drove to Liverpool, where Mr. Garelick saw the 89-year old A.V. Zogg School, a regal-looking institution that occupies an entire block in a tree-lined neighborhood. Over the years, it has functioned as both a middle school and a high school, a community church and had been most recently owned by a Thai businessman.For $1 million in 2017, it was Mr. Garelick’s.Mr. Garelick with the actress Teala Dunn. Before beginning production, Mr. Garelick held town halls where residents could ask questions and voice concerns.Libby March for The New York TimesSelling American HighTo sell his idea to investors, Mr. Garelick made a sizzle reel of his favorite high school films (“American Pie,” “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) — to show that every high school movie has the same basic locations — and took his pitch to the studios, independent financiers, anyone really who was willing to listen to his proposal. He was going to make three movies that looked as if they cost $30 million each but would only cost $8 million. The producer Mickey Liddell and his LD Entertainment bit, and American High was in business.He also had to sell it to his new neighbors. Early on, Mr. Garelick discovered the area wasn’t zoned for filming and the only way he was going to get the city’s approval was if he offered a trade school in addition to a production office. He also had to get buy-in from the community, so he and Mr. Phelps held town hall meetings where residents could voice any and all concerns: Would there be a lot of noise? What about the lights? One man was worried that the production would snap up all the barbers and he wouldn’t have a place to get his hair cut. After sifting through a year of red tape, American High was a go.“Plan B,” with Kuhoo Verma, right, and Victoria Moroles, was an early success for American High.HuluThe first two movies were small. “Holly Slept Over” cost only $500,000 while “Banana Split” was done for $1.2 million.Then American High produced “Big Time Adolescence” with Pete Davidson and Jon Cryer. The raunchy comedy made it into Sundance in 2019 and was sold to Hulu, the start of a partnership with the streaming service. The companies now have an eight-picture licensing deal. The latest film being directed by Ms. Cohen marks American High’s fifth production for Hulu. Others include “Plan B,” which debuted this year to strong reviews; “The Binge,” which Mr. Garelick directed; “The Ultimate Playlist of Noise”; and “Sex Appeal,” which has yet to come out. (A sequel to “The Binge” is set to begin production in January. “It’s our first franchise,” Mr. Garelick joked.)Mr. Garelick’s belief in the potential of this particular slice of American movies is based on his study of the Strauss-Howe generational theory — the notion that distinct groups throughout history share characteristics and values that cycle anew every 18 to 20 years. But audiences are more fragmented today than they were when “American Pie” came out and caught the cultural zeitgeist. And major studios long ago abandoned genre films for the surer bets of big blockbuster action titles.“At Hulu, we know that audiences still really want those genres, so something like a young adult title or a romantic comedy — that is something the audiences are still really clamoring for,” Brian Henderson, Hulu’s senior vice president of content programming and partnerships, said in an interview. “That’s a perfect place for Hulu to step in and bring those kinds of films to streaming audiences.”The new class“How many American High productions have you worked on?” Mr. Garelick asks every crew member he runs into while showing guests around the American High campus. “Nine,” said the costumer Celine Rahman. “Seven,” the location manager Emily Campbell said. In between working on the scripts and putting the films together, Mr. Garelick takes a lot of pride in having transformed his ragtag crew of recent college graduates into a professional operation that can handle bigger budgets and more complex shoots.Some actors have appeared in multiple films, like Mr. Alvarez, 23. “They make it so much fun, and I think that’s when you get the best work,” said Mr. Alvarez, whose previous production, “Sid is Dead,” about a social outcast who gets the class bully suspended has yet to debut. He mentioned the traditional end-of-production parties, which include a ritual where people attempt to throw a fire extinguisher through a wall. Not all the actors were as enthusiastic.“Love the people. Love the script. Hate the location,” quipped the YouTube content creator and actress Teala Dunn. “Terrible food. Terrible bugs.”This all gives the American High set the feel of a well-run summer camp more than a high-stress production environment. Part of that is the slew of young people traipsing around, part is the environment that Mr. Garelick and Mr. Phelps have cultivated where the majority of the work is done before shooting begins. Once the cameras roll, they let the directors do their job.Several of the movies have provided crucial experience for people like the first-time feature director Sammi Cohen.Libby March for The New York Times“There is a reason why Sam was given $7 million to make a movie,” Mr. Garelick said of Ms. Cohen, a veteran television director who is making her feature directorial debut with the current production, which is still untitled. “The biggest challenge for us is getting the script and the movie to a point where it’s awesome enough for somebody to say, ‘Here’s a lot of money to go make it.’ Once everything is put together, it’s really the director’s choice to do what she wants to do, especially on a movie like this. I don’t want to have a lot of input.”Natalie Morales confirms Mr. Garelick’s approach. The actress best known for her role as Lucy Santo Domingo in TV’s “Parks and Recreation” directed “Plan B” in 2020 after enduring six months of delays because of Covid. What she found surprised her, especially since, she said, Mr. Garelick and Mr. Phelps can initially come off more as “fun-loving bros” than serious businessmen.“Jeremy and Will were so trusting of me and so willing to support me,” she said in a recent interview. “That’s not the experience you typically get with men who consider themselves more experienced than you.”“Plan B” stars Kuhoo Verma and Victoria Moroles as two teenagers who must cross the state lines of South Dakota to find a Plan B pill after a regrettable sexual encounter. And it represents the epitome of the American High ethos: the high school experience told from a different point of view. In this case, it involves a strait-laced Indian girl who’s always expected to do the right thing, and her friend Lupe, a wild child whose sexuality may not align with her family’s expectations. Hulu said that “Plan B” was a hit not just with younger audiences, but with older women as well.High school movies rarely deviate from a specific formula. Most chronicle the agony and ecstasy of adolescence: falling in love, tasting your first sip of alcohol, realizing your parents aren’t perfect, discovering what kind of music you love. Those themes play out in American High’s movies, too, but through a new lens.“We all grew up loving John Hughes movies,” Mr. Garelick said. “And we loved them because they’re universal high school stories but when we look back at them, they’re all about a white guy who wants to get laid by the prom queen and winds up with their best friend, or something like that. And the people of color or people from different backgrounds were either in the background or were the butt of the joke. In our movies, they are our leads, and they’re often the ones who wrote these stories.”Of the 11 American High movies that have been shot at the school since 2017, seven have been made by first-time filmmakers, three of them women.“They could have done the thing where they buy the school and they set this all up for themselves,” Ms. Morales said. “That’s not what they’re doing.”A different kind of film schoolThe Syracuse film commission estimates that each film shot at American High leaves 70 percent of its budget in the region, between the local crew members it hires to the money spent in restaurants and hotels.Libby March for The New York TimesBefore American High’s arrival, the Syracuse film commission struggled to attract productions to the area, despite offering sizable tax credits. The inclement weather and meager crew base were major obstacles.Since Mr. Garelick entered the picture, things have changed.“It was a total 180,” the Syracuse film commissioner Eric Vinal said. “We went from very much a gig economy with people working pretty sporadically in the industry to really having full-time, secure positions.”Mr. Vinal estimates that each film shot leaves 70 percent of its budget in the region, between the local crew members it hires to the money spent in restaurants and hotels. American High’s movies initially cost $1 million to $2 million and have now expanded to the $7 million to $9 million range, with roughly 70 crew members, and going from nonunion crews to almost all union employees.Pulling from local colleges like Syracuse University, Onondaga Community College, Ithaca College and Le Moyne College, American High and Syracuse Studios, the company’s production services operation, employs 10 students on each production — students who might otherwise have to move to Los Angeles or New York for film jobs.Costumes for Ms. Cohen’s new movie.Libby March for The New York TimesA scene from Ms. Cohen’s as-yet untitled film.Libby March for The New York Times“It was a fantastic idea for the kind of thing that we’re doing here, which is educating storytellers of the future,” said Michael Schoonmaker, the chairman of the television, radio and film department at Syracuse’s Newhouse School of Public Communications. “One of our advantages here in the frozen tundra of the snow capital city of the world, is that, you know, we’ve got them captive but also we’re pretty far away from everything. Jeremy’s program connects the two.”Will Sacca, 24, first met Mr. Garelick in the spring of 2017 when the director came to his intro to screenwriting class and pitched American High directly to the students. Mr. Sacca became one of the first summer interns and was charged with reading and analyzing comedy scripts for what could be American High’s first features. After graduation, Mr. Sacca returned to American High and worked in a variety of different departments: locations, production, accounting. He then became Mr. Garelick’s assistant before moving back into development, where now, as the head of the department, he manages a team of readers, including college interns who provide initial reaction to scripts.“I’m really fortunate,” Mr. Sacca said. “If I was at any of the mini-majors in L.A. or one of the big studios, I would be, at best, an executive assistant.”Ms. Rahman’s trajectory was similar. A recent graduate, she was living in New York City trying her hand at acting when she made a decision to return home to Syracuse. First she got a job as a background actor on American High’s second feature, “Banana Split.” That resulted in a move into the costume department, where she’s been ever since.“We’ve got Syracuse University and this really great film school there and you would think that this kind of thing would have been done a long time ago,” she said. “It seems that people are just kind of realizing, ‘Oh wait, there’s a place to make movies here and it’s sustainable.’”‘The Rah-Rah of it all’A classroom at American High. The company employs 10 students on each production, pulling from local colleges like Syracuse University.Libby March for The New York TimesNear the end of a long day of filming, Mr. Garelick sat in American High’s gym, watching a scene unfold and ruminating on his own high school experience. Not surprising, he loved it. Growing up in New City, N.Y., he was a football player, a member of the school’s theater troupe and president of the class. “I loved the Rah-Rah of it all,” he said.Now he gets to relive that feeling every day.American High has the bandwidth to shoot five films a year. Mr. Garelick and Mr. Phelps have also trained enough crew members that they can hand the reins of a production to others and get to work on the next American High film or other projects they’re involved with. (Mr. Garelick recently decamped to Hawaii to begin preproduction on the sequel to the Netflix film “Murder Mystery.”)What weighs on Mr. Garelick now is just how big of a beast he’s created. “We both feel responsible for a lot of people, and it’s definitely a lot of pressure,” he said. “But it’s also incredibly rewarding.” He acknowledged that things have become easier in the last year as more production has come to the area and his crew members have become experienced enough to get jobs on non-American High projects.Mr. Garelick with Mr. Phelps have trained enough crew members that they can hand the reins of a production to others.Libby March for The New York TimesIt also helps that immersing themselves in the world of R-rated teen comedies has made them experts.“We’ve gotten really good at knowing all the talent in this age range and in this space,” Mr. Phelps said. “We know all the scripts that are floating around because we’ve probably read them all.” More

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    Netflix Eyes New Jersey Army Base for Major Production Hub

    The streaming service said it would bid for a nearly 300-acre chunk of Fort Monmouth and it has the support of Gov. Phil Murphy.Netflix wants to turn a crumbling Army base in New Jersey into one of the largest movie and television production hubs in the Northeast, a plan that has at least one important proponent: Gov. Phil Murphy.On Tuesday, Netflix said it would bid for a 289-acre chunk of Fort Monmouth, about 50 miles south of New York City in the boroughs of Oceanport and Eatontown. The 96-year-old base — used by the United States to develop radar technology and where a civilian engineer, Julius Rosenberg, infamously began his espionage career — was closed by the Pentagon in 2011 as the military cut spending.Bids for the site are due Jan. 12, and Netflix would not discuss the price it planned to offer. The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority has appraised the site at $54 million, but several developers previously offered more than $100 million for just 89 acres of the land in consideration. (Those plans fell through.) Netflix said in a statement that it would transform Fort Monmouth into a “state-of-the-art production facility,” indicating a mix of soundstages, postproduction buildings and backlot filming areas.“Governor Murphy and the state’s legislative leaders have created a business environment that’s welcomed film and television production back to the state, and we’re excited to submit our bid,” Netflix’s statement said.At nearly 300 acres, the Jersey Shore site would be Netflix’s second-largest production complex behind ABQ Studios in New Mexico. Netflix bought that complex in 2018 and committed to spend $1 billion in the state, announcing plans in 2020 to expand and invest an additional $1 billion. ABQ Studios will have more than 15 soundstages when complete.Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey is offering tax credits for production and studio construction.Al Drago for The New York TimesSpeculation about Netflix’s interest in Fort Monmouth has swirled since July, when The Two River Times reported that Netflix had been in contact with Mr. Murphy’s office about building opportunities.New Jersey officials began playing up their state as economically and politically friendly to Netflix in 2019, when a delegation from Mr. Murphy’s administration visited various Hollywood companies in Los Angeles. In April, Mr. Murphy took a swipe at Georgia, which had just passed a law restricting voter access, leading activists, stars and others to demand that companies like Netflix, Disney and Warner Bros. boycott the state. In a letter to all of the major studios, Mr. Murphy highlighted his incentives for the film and television industry — tax credits on up to 30 percent of eligible production costs, on par with Georgia, and “a subsidy for brick and mortar studio development of up to 40 percent.”“I am incredibly excited to hear about Netflix’s proposed investment,” Mr. Murphy said in a statement on Tuesday. “While there is an objective process that any and all applications will have to go through, this is yet more evidence that the economic plan my administration has laid out is working and bringing high-quality, good-paying jobs to our state.”New Jersey has a long relationship with Hollywood. Thomas Edison started what is considered to be the nation’s first film studio in West Orange in 1893. The state’s political winds, however, have not always been favorable to the entertainment industry.Throughout the 2010s, former governor Chris Christie was so disgusted with MTV’s “Jersey Shore” and its depiction of Jersey residents as binge-drinking blowhards that he made sure the state maintained a hard line on providing tax credits to film and television productions. In 2009, when HBO went to find production space for “Boardwalk Empire,” set in Prohibition-era Atlantic City, the network chose to shoot the series in New York, which has long offered tax breaks. “Only New Jersey’s high taxes can make building a replica boardwalk in Brooklyn cheaper than filming on the real Boardwalk in Atlantic City,” a New Jersey state senator railed.In recent years, production in the state has started ramping back up, in part to meet the content needs of fast-growing streaming services. Netflix alone has filmed more than 30 projects in New Jersey since 2018, including “Army of the Dead,” Zack Snyder’s zombies-in-Vegas extravaganza. Coming up, Apple TV+ will shoot “The Greatest Beer Run Ever,” a movie starring Russell Crowe, Zac Efron and Bill Murray. The CBS drama “The Equalizer” has been among the other shows to tape episodes in the state.The CBS drama “The Equalizer,” starring Queen Latifah, is one of many projects to film in New Jersey recently.Barbara Nitke/CBS Entertainment, via Associated PressA Netflix spokesman said the company would continue to shoot in states like New York, Georgia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and North Carolina even if the Fort Monmouth plans come to fruition. Last month, the streaming service opened a new 170,000-square foot studio converted from a former steel factory in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. The new studio includes six soundstages and office space.On a recent afternoon outside the Bushwick studio, there were half a dozen crew and craft service trucks, as well as a number of crew members milling in and out of the building. Signage around the studio indicated that two series were already in production: “The Watcher,” a Ryan Murphy-produced limited series starring Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale, and “Jigsaw,” a new drama. More

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    Why Amazon Is in Business With Judge Judy

    The company hopes a new court show starring the straight-talking judge will help turbocharge its free, ad-supported streaming platform, IMDb TV.CULVER CITY, Calif. — And you thought Amazon’s ambitions in Hollywood were limited to a single streaming service.Amazon Prime Video, of course, ranks as one of the world’s pre-eminent subscription providers of on-demand films and television shows. Last year, Amazon spent $11 billion on entertainment programming, a 41 percent increase from a year earlier. In May, Amazon bought Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to supercharge its content pipeline even further. For their $13 monthly Prime membership fee, subscribers will soon have exclusive access to “Thursday Night Football.”But the internet giant also owns another streaming service, one that has mostly gone unnoticed. It’s called IMDb TV. Started in 2019 with little fanfare, IMDb TV is free, supported by ads, mostly stocked with reruns — and about to come out of the shadows.Next Monday, IMDb TV will unveil “Judy Justice,” a court show starring the straight-talking Judge Judith Sheindlin, 79, whose wildly popular “Judge Judy” ended in May after 25 years. The new show is essentially a supersized version of the old one — a certified hit, or so IMDb TV hopes, taken from the dying medium of daytime broadcast syndication. The cases being litigated involve amounts up to $10,000. (It was $5,000 before.) Her on-camera courtroom staff has been expanded to include a stenographer and a law clerk.Sarah Rose, 24, a law school student who happens to be Judge Sheindlin’s granddaughter, is the clerk. At the end of each “Judy Justice” episode, Ms. Rose and Judge Sheindlin meet in chambers and chew some fat.“Sometimes I can add something from a younger perspective,” Ms. Rose said, referring to America’s crankiest judge as Nana. “The term LMAO came up on a case the other day, for example, and she needed me to interpret.”“Judy Justice” is similar to “Judge Judy,” which ran for 25 years on broadcast networks.Tracy Nguyen for The New York TimesJudge Sheindlin has ditched the much-discussed clip-on pony tail she wore in the final seasons of “Judge Judy.” (Asked by a reporter to address viewer consternation over her hair, she responded with an epic eye roll.) But she remains defiant — a plain-spoken star at a time when expressing an incongruent opinion can result in vicious blowback online.“I bring eyeballs because, at least for one hour a day, people see that someone is holding the line,” Judge Sheindlin said over lunch. “I’m unafraid to call out irresponsible, un-American behavior. If we settle for mediocrity, we get what we deserve.”A waiter stopped by to top off her glass of rosé. “I think I know the boundary, the limit, of where it’s appropriate to go,” she continued. “I might say to a male defendant: ‘So you’re 22 and you have six kids and no job. Find something else to do with that organ!’ But I don’t say what I would really want to say, which is, ‘Bring it up here to my bench.’”She slammed her knife down on the table. “Whack,” she said gleefully.Amazon is counting on Judge Sheindlin’s chutzpah to help establish IMDb TV as a bigger player in what has become, surprisingly, one of the hottest areas in media: free, ad-supported video on demand. In addition to IMDb TV, which is named after the Internet Movie Database, the crowded field includes Pluto TV, Tubi, Peacock, Roku Channel, Crackle and Xumo. They mostly aggregate older films (“Despicable Me 2,” “Grumpy Old Men”) and reruns (“Little House on the Prairie,” “Good Times”).IMDb TV also offers series like “Mad Men.” Justina Mintz/AMC, via Associated PressOnce seen as dowdy cousins to subscription services like Disney+ and Netflix, which do not carry ads, ad-supported platforms soared in popularity during the pandemic as viewers sought out entertainment comfort food. More viewers than anticipated seem to be willing to put up with a few ad breaks, analysts say. IMDb TV, for one, claims to carry about 50 percent fewer ads than a traditional broadcast network.“Free is always compelling,” said Guy Bisson, executive director of Ampere Analysis, noting that subscription fatigue is setting in among some consumers.Ad-supported streaming services had about 108 million viewers in the United States in 2020, according to eMarketer. The number is expected to climb to 157 million by 2024. (IMDb TV does not disclose raw viewing numbers. In May, it said that year-over-year viewership had increased 138 percent and that 62 percent of viewers were ages 18 to 49, the demographic that advertisers pay a premium to reach.)The online video advertising market is expected to total roughly $82 billion in the United States in 2024, up from $27 billion in 2018, according to Ampere Analysis.IMDb TV is expected to be rebranded, although Amazon has given no date. (Asked if she had complained to Amazon about the awkward name and pressed the company to change it, Judge Sheindlin said, “I have, and they are.” An IMDb TV spokeswoman declined to comment.) At the moment, only 33 percent of entertainment consumers are aware of IMDb TV, ranking the service near the back of the ad-supported pack, according to Screen Engine/ASI. Most competitors are in the 40s.Last year, IMDb TV rolled out its first original drama, “Alex Rider,” based on the popular spy novels for teenagers. A second season is on the way, along with other originals, including a half-hour drama from Dick Wolf, the king of law enforcement TV; a spinoff of “Bosch,” the long-running Prime Video series; a comedy starring Martha Plimpton; and a drama adapted from the 1999 erotic thriller “Cruel Intentions.” Under a new agreement between Amazon and Universal Pictures, Prime Video and IMDb TV will share certain streaming rights to Universal’s theatrical films.In recent months, the IMDb TV app has become available on a wide variety of devices, including iPhones. This fall, Amazon will begin selling its own smart TVs with IMDb TV automatically installed.“Judy Justice” is not without risk. Old “Judge Judy” episodes (there are more than 5,000) continue to run in syndication on local stations, and viewers don’t seem to mind the recycling. About seven million have been tuning in, a decline of only 11 percent from May, when new episodes were airing, according to Nielsen data.How much Judge Sheindlin does one planet need? “You can never have enough of someone who is as smart and as funny and as entertaining as she is,” said Lauren Anderson, IMDb TV’s co-head of programming.The core daytime audience is decidedly senior. Will Judge Sheindlin’s older fans be able to find IMDb TV’s corner of the internet? (Access to IMDb TV programming, including “Judy Justice,” is easiest through Prime Video.)Judge Sheindlin, 79, said she was “relatively worry free” about her new show.Tracy Nguyen for The New York Times“Judy Justice” also represents an experiment for streaming. For the first time, a service is trying to replicate daytime television’s traditional rhythm: New episodes will arrive five days a week and accumulate in a bingeable library. IMDb TV ordered 120 episodes of “Judy Justice,” the largest first-season order ever by a streamer, analysts say. Amazon has an option to order another 120.“We see a space to become a modern broadcast network,” Ms. Anderson said. “While we have seen the ratings decline on broadcast, it’s not because audiences are rejecting the content. It’s about convenience and the delivery route.”Judge Sheindlin deemed herself “relatively worry free” about her new show. Unlike traditional syndication, streaming doesn’t have the pressure of publicly reported ratings. And she doesn’t exactly need the job.“I did the math, and I’ve already got enough for 24-7 nursing care until I’m 150,” she said. (CBS paid her $47 million to tape 260 episodes of “Judge Judy” a year. She declined to discuss her “Judy Justice” salary. Amazon is paying her about $25 million for the first 120 episodes, analysts estimate.)Other television icons — David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jon Stewart, Oprah Winfrey — have approached streaming as a slower, more refined second act. But Judge Sheindlin is sticking with the tried and true. A few weeks ago, she was on the “Judy Justice” set at Amazon Studios doing what she does best — yelling at a dognapper.“Don’t try to talk over me, madam!”Camera operators moved toward her bench for a close-up. Judge Sheindlin, wearing a maroon robe (instead of “Judge Judy” black) with a more stylish collar (begone with you, lace doily), tapped her finger impatiently.“I’m waiting for your proof!” More

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    YouTube Deletes Two R. Kelly Channels, but Stops Short of a Ban

    The video platform said it was enforcing its terms of service, one week after the singer was convicted on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges.A week after R. Kelly’s conviction on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges, YouTube has deleted two of the R&B star’s official video channels, but is not banning his music entirely.The two channels — RKellyTV and the singer’s Vevo account, which hosted his music videos — were removed on Tuesday in what YouTube, owned by Google, said was an enforcement of its terms of service.“We can confirm that we have terminated two channels linked to R. Kelly in accordance with our creator responsibility guidelines,” Ivy Choi, a YouTube spokesperson, said in a statement.According to YouTube’s guidelines, it may shut down the channels of people accused of very serious offenses if they have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to crimes, and if their content is closely related to those crimes.On Tuesday, a news report in Bloomberg quoted an internal memo by Nicole Alston, YouTube’s head of legal, which said, “Egregious actions committed by R. Kelly warrant penalties beyond standard enforcement measures due to a potential to cause widespread harm.”In the past, YouTube has removed the channels of creators like Austin Jones, who made popular a cappella videos and in 2019 pleaded guilty to having underage girls send him sexually explicit videos.YouTube’s stance may be the first significant action taken by a major tech platform to remove Kelly’s content. But it is not a total ban. Kelly’s music is still allowed on YouTube through user-generated content, like cover versions of his songs, and on Kelly’s “topic” page, which allows streaming of his recordings while a static image of his album artwork is displayed.And Kelly’s music remains fully available on YouTube Music, a separate streaming platform that competes more directly with audio outlets like Spotify and Apple Music. Last month, Google said that there are 50 million subscribers to YouTube Music and YouTube Premium, which allows viewers to skip ads on videos.When asked why Kelly’s music remains available on YouTube Music, and why that platform has different creator responsibility guidelines, a YouTube spokesperson said only: “Our creator responsibility guidelines are enforced for channels that are linked to the creator. This is consistent with how we’ve enforced our policies in the past.”The answer may lie in the historical roots of YouTube as a platform for individual creators, who often operate without a corporate intermediary like a record company, and thus maintain more direct control over their video channels. But for most major recording artists, like Kelly, their record companies supply their music videos to YouTube through Vevo, which is jointly owned by Google and the major record companies.In 2018, Spotify briefly instituted a policy banning the promotion of artists — including Kelly — whose personal conduct was deemed “hateful.” The policy was rescinded after objections in the music industry that it was vague and seemed to inordinately affect artists of color.Since then, there has been little attempt to police the content of musicians accused of serious misconduct, to the dismay of many activists. Kelly’s music remains widely available on other major streaming platforms like Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Music, and has been included on hundreds of official playlists on those services. On Spotify, Kelly’s songs have recently drawn an average of about five million streams each month. More

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    Head of Paramount Pictures is ousted as ViacomCBS focuses on streaming.

    In 2017, Viacom turned to one of Hollywood’s most seasoned and respected executives, James N. Gianopulos, to revive its flatlining Paramount Pictures operation. Mr. Gianopulos quickly stabilized the 1910s-era studio — repairing relationships with filmmakers and producers, building a thriving television division from near-scratch, and restoring Paramount to profitability.He was ousted on Monday, with his status as the consummate Hollywood insider having curdled into a liability, at least to ViacomCBS, the conglomerate that owns Paramount, where streaming, streaming, streaming is the new currency of the realm.Brian Robbins, 58, who runs Viacom’s children’s television business, will succeed Mr. Gianopulos, 69, as chief executive of Paramount Pictures, ViacomCBS said. Emma Watts, 51, the president of Paramount’s Motion Picture Group, was notably passed over for the job.The reversal of fortune for Mr. Gianopulos, who had two years left on his contract, did not shock the movie capital, where speculation about his standing inside ViacomCBS had been gossiped about for months. Shari Redstone, who controls the company, had signaled in private that Mr. Gianopulos had become a frustration. In particular, he had, at times, resisted a ViacomCBS effort to prioritize the Paramount+ streaming service at the expense of ticket sales and theaters. Big-screen releases remain of crucial importance to studio partners like Tom Cruise, who stars in Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible” series and coming “Top Gun” sequel.Shari Redstone, the chair of ViacomCBS, in July. She has been pushing the company to prioritize streaming.Kevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesBut the ouster rattled the film business nonetheless. It was seen by some as barbarous — tradition holds that senior statesmen get to write their own endings. And it added to a changing of the guard: Ron Meyer, a longtime film power at Universal, left last year amid a sex scandal, and Alan F. Horn, the chief creative officer at Walt Disney Studios, is widely expected to retire in the coming months.Bob Bakish, the chief executive of ViacomCBS, said in a statement that the leadership change would “build on Paramount’s strong momentum, ensuring it continues to engage audiences at scale while embracing viewers’ evolving tastes and habits.” He said Mr. Robbins was an “expert” at developing franchises by “leaning into the unique strengths of new and established platforms.”Mr. Bakish called Mr. Gianopulos “a towering figure in Hollywood” and thanked him for revitalizing Paramount. In the same statement, Mr. Gianopulos recounted a list of major changes he had successfully navigated over his nearly 40-year career — such as the introduction of VCRs and online film rentals — and wished Mr. Robbins “all the very best success.”For many film industry stalwarts, Mr. Robbins is an affront to their identities; he comes from television, said while holding one’s nose. Mr. Robbins has experience as a movie producer and director. But much of the Hollywood establishment also looks down on that part of his résumé, which includes “Norbit,” a commercially successful but critically reviled Eddie Murphy vehicle from 2007. Not exactly Oscar bait.Mr. Robbins gained fame as a young actor in the 1980s by playing a mulleted rebel on the ABC sitcom “Head of the Class.” In the 1990s and 2000s he worked as a television producer (“Kenan & Kel” on Nickelodeon, “Smallville” on the WB) and a film director (“Norbit,” “Varsity Blues”).By 2009, however, Mr. Robbins started to become disillusioned with Hollywood. Younger audiences — his specialty — were living online. He began experimenting with low-budget films starring YouTube personalities like Lucas Cruikshank (a.k.a. Fred Figgelhorn) and started a YouTube channel, AwesomenessTV, aimed at teenage girls. In 2013, Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was then running DreamWorks Animation, bought AwesomenessTV for about $33 million. (Mr. Katzenberg remains a mentor.)“There is no movie business anymore!” Mr. Robbins was quoted by Fast Company as saying in 2013. “The model’s broken, and I see that as an opportunity.”Mr. Robbins was named president of Nickelodeon, which is also owned by ViacomCBS, in 2018. He has become known inside Viacom as a plain-spoken, never-say-die futurist who believes that Paramount+, the company’s relatively small streaming service, must be supercharged. Mr. Robbins has eagerly rerouted new children’s programming toward Paramount+ and away from Nickelodeon’s traditional cable channels. One such show, a reboot of “iCarly,” has been a hit for the streaming service.Mr. Gianopulos, or “Jim G” as everyone in Hollywood refers to him, will remain a consultant until the end of the year, ViacomCBS said. “Jim is nothing less than legendary in this business, and I am humbled and grateful to him for his years of mentorship and friendship,” Mr. Robbins said in a statement.Mr. Robbins will continue to lead Nickelodeon, ViacomCBS said. But he will not get all of Mr. Gianopulos’s portfolio; Paramount Television Studios will now report to David Nevins, the chairman and chief executive of Showtime Networks. More

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    When Opera Livestreams Became Live Performances

    This summer, three European productions, previously available to American audiences only online, were at last accessible in person.I should start with a confession: Rarely during the pandemic have I been able to watch an entire livestream through.Work is one thing: If I’m “attending” something for an assignment, I try to bring to it the focus of a before-times performance — phone off, sound system on, ideally in the dark. But nearly all my extracurricular experiences online have been nothing like my old days off. I would never walk in and out of Carnegie Hall during a recital or pull out my phone mid-Schubert to scroll through Instagram or write an email.Yet that’s exactly what the past year and a half has been like. Life and livestreams are inherently incompatible; there is always a dog to walk, a dinner to cook, a meeting to join. I have seen the greatest musical artists in the world in fragments from the seat of a Peloton; in a small window at the corner of a laptop screen; and, more times than I would like to admit, in bed.If anything has been likely to hold my attention from start to finish, it’s opera. That’s partly baked into the form; concerts, for all their recent engineering feats, generally can’t offer the multisensory experience of theater. And, miraculously, there have continued to be new productions during the pandemic — mostly in Europe, where they often premiered to small audiences or empty houses.Three of those — Dmitri Tcherniakov’s staging of Weber’s “Der Freischütz,” Marina Abramovic’s project “7 Deaths of Maria Callas” and a production of Strauss’s “Elektra” by Krzysztof Warlikowski — were at one point available only as online streams for Americans like me, barred from casually traveling to most of Europe.Ausrine Stundyte, front, in the title role of “Elektra” at the Salzburg Festival.Bernd Uhlig/Salzburg FestivalBut this summer, a halcyon time of reopened borders and the return of large-scale productions in full houses, I was able to see all three again, now in person: “Freischütz” and “7 Deaths” at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, and “Elektra” at the Salzburg Festival in Austria.That juxtaposition — livestream and live performance — is worth reflecting on as a wave of opening nights heralds the arrival of a new season; as international travel becomes newly precarious; and as orchestras and opera houses consider whether to weave livestreams into their regular programming.Some projects, it should be said, have emerged independent of any live audience or presentation — even traditional ones, such as the Paris Opera’s new production of Verdi’s “Aida,” which was altered to look better online than in the house (where critics were invited to see it, and mostly panned it). One of the great treasures of the pandemic has been Opera Philadelphia’s digital shorts, with contributions from the likes of Angélica Negrón and Tyshawn Sorey. Boston Lyric Opera developed “Desert In” as a mini-series, bringing the art form into the Netflix era.The productions I saw both onscreen and onstage, though, were conceived for the opera house. Opera just isn’t a filmic medium, even if certain composers anticipated it — such as Richard Wagner, with the immersive theatrical experience he pioneered in Bayreuth, Germany.But not every composer is Wagner, and although the streamed productions I later saw live had flashes of revelation, those moments were few and far between in what was, on balance, limited by the medium: the subjective and inevitably narrow perspective of the camera, the engineered flattening of sound. Virtual opera, unless designed as such, is ultimately just a document.Tcherniakov’s “Freischütz” production splits the stage into two halves: the bottom a set for the actors, and the top a surface for projections.Wilfried HöslEspecially in a staging as acutely dramatic as Tcherniakov’s “Freischütz.” It abandons the work’s fantasy Romanticism, setting it in the corporate penthouse of Kuno, a chief executive who behaves like a Mafia boss.The other roles, too, bear little resemblance to any traditional production. To bridge the gap between libretto and concept, the stage is treated as a split screen, with the set occupying the bottom half and the top serving as a surface for projected text messages — and, during the overture, background information on each character in Tcherniakov’s treatment. (The camera mostly shows either the set or the projection, rarely both, which in the final scene makes for a confusing resolution that is easily legible in the house.)Crucially, the introductions reveal that Kaspar — in the libretto a jealous rival of the protagonist, Max, he wants to marry Kuno’s daughter, Agathe — suffers from a trauma that, we later learn, manifests as a kind of multiple personality disorder. (He also takes on the demonic role of Samiel.)As sung by the bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen, Kaspar is the opera’s horrifying black heart. In a crowd of excellent performances — including Golda Schultz’s heavenly Agathe and her character’s Sapphic subplot with Anna Prohaska’s Ännchen — it’s nearly impossible to take your eyes off the fierce and angular intensity of Ketelsen’s face.A viewer of the livestream wouldn’t necessarily get that. The score’s focus in its climax is on Max, and the camera follows, with a close-up of the tenor Pavel Cernoch’s fright and anguish. In the theater, however, I could see that Ketelsen’s scowl was more pronounced than ever — a sign that the opera’s traditionally happy ending would here be anything but.“7 Deaths of Maria Callas” features arias performed by sopranos including Adela Zaharia (bottom left) and campy videos starring Willem Dafoe and Marina Abramovic.Wilfried HöslAlso at the Bavarian State Opera, Abramovic’s “7 Deaths” — which pays homage to Callas through seven arias and a prolonged final scene that imagines that famed soprano’s final day — worked better as a livestream, because it worked so intermittently as a live performance. With in-person singers accompanying big-screen videos of Abramovic and Willem Dafoe artfully acting out death scenes inspired by the arias, the piece relegates opera to mere soundtrack.Abramovic is an undeniably electric presence. But the scale of the opera house — the vast distance it can put between a performer and audience member — negates much of the charged intimacy on which she has built her career as a performance artist. At least the livestream of the work’s premiere allowed for a proper zoom on every facial expression and gesture — while also reducing her to just an image on a screen, less powerful than she can be at her best.In Salzburg, Warlikowski’s “Elektra” — using the breadth of the unusually wide Felsenreitschule stage — was almost defiantly unfilmable, with multiple parts of the set in use nearly all the time. The opening credits of the streamed version doubled as a tour of the whole space: a pool (where Elektra’s father, Agamemnon, was murdered) and showers, as well as a glass box filled with luxurious furniture and the vast rock walls of the theater, a canvas for projections.Tanja Ariane Baumgartner, left, and Stundyte in Krzysztof Warlikowski’s production of “Elektra.”Bernd Uhlig/Salzburg FestivalThese close-ups presage the limits of the filmed production, in which the camera tends to focus on only one thing at a time, with wide shots largely reserved for the eventually blood-splattered, fly-swarmed walls. The stream did catch chilling details I missed in the theater: Klytämnestra, for example, commanding as sung by Tanja Ariane Baumgartner but easy to miss in a silent moment of handling human organs in a bucket inside the glass box. Or Ausrine Stundyte’s Elektra, wide-eyed and wild-haired from the start, yet progressively more so each time she appears onscreen.But “Elektra” is a musically dense, busy opera that Warlikowski matches in his staging, while the camera lacks the restlessness of a spectator’s eye. The only perspective that would accurately reflect the production would be a wide, straight-on view of the stage — something you might find in the research archive of Broadway shows at the New York Library for the Performing Arts.That problem pales, though, in comparison with the sound of the streamed “Elektra.” I like to believe the story that, ahead of the opera’s 1909 premiere, Strauss told the conductor: “Louder, louder! I can still hear the singers!” Franz Welser-Möst led the Vienna Philharmonic in Salzburg as if that were true (if with a little more of a level head). At its best, this score overwhelms and terrifies. On a laptop, however, it was simply too balanced, with singers and instrumentalists favored equally; no one came out better for it.As Europe again considers whether to close its borders to Americans, and as live performances remain more of a delicate triumph than a given, new productions may return to the small screen. If that happens, I’ll tune in. But I’d rather see you at the opera house. Because this “Freischütz,” “7 Deaths” and “Elektra” affirmed what we already knew: Fundamentally, opera is theater. That couldn’t be more obvious, or more essential. More