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Clayton Opera House kicks off digital cinema series Friday with Hendrix


CLAYTON — After a trial run last fall, the Clayton Opera House is ready to sound off on its new high-definition, surround-sound movie system.

The film “Hendrix at 70: Live at Woodstock,” kicks off the Thousand Islands Performing Arts Fund’s winter season of digital cinema at 7:30 Friday evening. Films focusing on the Rolling Stones and “The Phantom of the Opera” will follow in February.

TIPAF purchased a new 12-by-24-foot remote-controlled, high-definition movie screen last year to complement a Clayton resident’s gift of a high-resolution DVD projector. To further support the movie projector donation, the organization upgraded the venue’s audio system through a grant from the Northern New York Community Foundation and private donors. The approximate cost of the system was $75,000.

“It was a real community spirit to pull all of these pieces together,” said Joseph M. Gleason Jr., TIPAC executive director.

Music fans will be able to see crystal clear images of Jimmy Hendrix and hear his concert in 5.1 Dolby surround sound. “Hendrix at 70,” released in November, highlights the musician’s 1969 concert at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. Mr. Hendrix, who died in 1970, would have been 70 last year.

“Hendrix at 70” features the original 16 mm footage digitally restored together with a new 5.1 audio surround mix by engineer Eddie Kramer. He originally recorded the Woodstock festival and also served Mr. Hendrix as his recording engineer throughout his career.

The basics of a 5.1 audio sound system consists of a center speaker, four “surround” speakers and a subwoofer (the .1) for bass.

“For our theater, because it’s so large, it’s not just speakers and a subwoofer,” Mr. Gleason said. “It’s an array of speakers.”

The opera house, he said, has nine speakers for its audio/film system. The audio system is also used for small acoustic concerts.

“It sounds gorgeous,” Mr. Gleason said.

A trial run of the digital film system was presented in November when the opera house staged the film “The Phantom of the Opera: 25th Anniversary at the Royal Albert Hall.” The film returns for the winter series.

“It was pretty low-key,” Mr. Gleason said Monday from New York City, where he was attending the 56th annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference. “We didn’t do a major push on advertising. It was still a new system. I’d rather have a smaller audience to work out kinks if necessary.”

He said audience reaction to the trial run was favorable.

“To me, it was a little better than being in the audience” at a live show, he said. “You got to see the action up close.”

He added that the film and audio setup gives the opera house new options.

“We can schedule events throughout the year and we don’t have to worry about travel for artists,” Mr. Gleason said.

Ticket prices for the films also tend to be lower than the nationally known acts the opera house books.

The three films in the winter series were booked through SpectiCast, the fastest-growing all-digital private network in North America, distributing film and cultural arts events to venues. Mr. Gleason said the company also distributes simulcasts of live events, which the opera house hopes to get involved with. Last month, the opera house staged the live broadcast of the 12.12.12. concert for Hurricane Sandy relief.

The other two films in the winter season of digital cinema:

n “The Rolling Stones: Some Girls, Live in Texas,” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1.

The film captures the band at the height of its career. Shot on 16 mm in Fort Worth in 1978, the film has been upgraded to high definition with a 5.1 audio track. It opens with a Mick Jagger interview filmed in August of 2011 where he introduces the concert and offers an insight into its significance in the band’s history.

n “The Phantom of the Opera: 25th Anniversary at the Royal Albert Hall,” at 7 p.m. Feb. 15: Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and first produced in 1986, “Phantom of the Opera” is Broadway’s longest-running show and has been seen by more than 100 million people worldwide. This film, released in 2011, features more than 200 cast members, orchestra musicians, and luminaries involved with the production over the past 25 years.

The details
WHAT: Winter digital cinema at the Clayton Opera House, 405 Riverside Drive.
THE FILMS: “Hendrix at 70: Live at Woodstock,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“The Rolling Stones: Some Girls, Live in Texas,” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1.
“The Phantom of the Opera: 25th Anniversary at the Royal Albert Hall” at 7 p.m. Feb. 15.
COST: $15 for adults and $8 for students.
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