Opera aficionados, you have options now.

Thanks to a collaboration between Austin Lyric Opera, the Long Center for the Performing Arts and Emerging Pictures — an all-digital alternate concert theater network in the United States — Austin will get the ‘Opera in Cinema' series, hi-def screenings of opera productions from around the world.

To kick things off, there will be a free screening Friday of Verdi's ‘Aida' in the 2006 production by Teatro alla Scala of Milan, Italy. Director Franco Zeffirelli brought his trademark over-the-top extravagance to the production which features an ensemble of more than 300 actors and lavish sets. It stars soprano Violeta Urmana and tenor Roberto Alagna.

‘ "Opera in Cinema" is an excellent opportunity to augment Austin Lyric Opera's quality productions with operas from major houses around the world,' says Kevin Patterson, Austin Lyric Opera general director. ‘Opera audiences are now getting the best of both worlds.'

Multimedia opera-from-a-distance, as it were, started when New York's venerable Metropolitan Opera began live national radio broadcasts in 1931 and continues today. In 2006, the Met pioneered the practice of broadcast of operas to movie theaters. Now, opera companies the world over are finding their way to movie screens.

The ‘Opera in Cinema' series at the Long Center continues through the arts season.

On Sept. 15 it's Mozart's ‘Cosi Fan Tutte' from London's Royal Opera House. From Barcelona, Spain's Gran Theatre del Liceu comes Bizet's ‘Carmen' on Oct. 13. Then next year it's Puccini's ‘Tosca' from Genoa, Italy's Teatro Carlo Felice on March 20 and in June, ‘Macbeth' from London's Royal Opera House.

jvanryzin@statesman.com; 445-3699

Verdi's ‘Aida'

When:7:30 p.m. Friday, August 27.

Cost: Free, but tickets are required

Info:www.thelongcenter.org , 474-5664