San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Russian ballet beams into the Cultural Center

The sad truth is that most people can’t jump in a plane and fly to Moscow to see the Bolshoi. One of the world’s foremost dance companies is too remote and too expensive for the average non-Russian to see. Luckily, the Costa Rican-North American Cultural Center has amended this problem: If we can’t go to the Bolshoi, the Bolshoi can come to us.

Last Tuesday morning, a handful of patrons got a sneak peak at a high-definition broadcast screened live at the Eugene O’Neill Theater. Guests enjoyed coffee and cookies as Cultural Director Manuel Arce spoke at length about the broadcast, which uses satellite technology to “beam” images to cinemas around the world. The Cultural Center will run a full series of Bolshoi and Metropolitan Opera screenings, at nearly the exact moment they are performed in Moscow and New York City.

“The Cultural Center is an institution dedicated to being at the vanguard,” Arce announced in a press release. “It is for this that in recent years we have created cultural spaces in which the artistic manifestations combine with high-definition technology to create innovative cultural concepts.”

During the sample screening, guests watched selections from (-)’s “The Corsair,” an orientalist comedy about a slave girl and her dashing paramour. According to the Cultural Center, the videography team in Moscow uses 10 different cameras to capture the footage, and audio is played in surround sound. Indeed, the sound is so pristine that viewers could hear the ballerinas’ toe-shoes pattering against the Bolshoi’s sprung stage.

San José’s culturati can enjoy a variety of performances this season, from Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Sleeping Beauty”to Puccini’s opera “Tosca.” The live cinema format has become increasingly popular around the world; instead of sitting at home and watching a live broadcast on television, enthusiasts can still go to a theater and see a large-scale presentation. One broadcast familiar to many Americans is a live beaming of the program “Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me” by National Public Radio.

Of course bouncing transmissions off satellites isn’t cheap, nor are the tickets: general admission is ₡12,500 ($25), and students get in for ₡10,000 ($20). Then again, compared to a seat in the actual MET or Bolshoi, $25 is a steal, and with so many lenses fixed on the action, every seat is the best seat in the house.

The Bolshoi and Metropolitan Opera series begin this month and continue throughout May 2014. For information, visit the Theater’s Facebook page at facebook/teatroeugeneoneill.

Contact Robert Isenberg at

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