As strict anti-Coronavirus regulations go into effect severely limiting social gatherings, opera and classical music lovers will have to forsake Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall for the safety of their own living rooms. Fortunately, fans can still get their opera fix as a number of musical organizations including the Metropolitan Opera are offering full performances online.
The Met’s New York and international audiences are lamenting the cancellation of some striking midseason revivals including La Cenerentola, Werther and Tosca. But they can take consolation nightly in free streams of some of the most popular episodes of the company’s Live in HD series. The program begins tonight at 7:30 p.m. with Bizet’s Carmen starring Elina Garanca and Roberto Alagna.
Complementing the Met’s evening programming is the Vienna State Opera, which is offering selections from its own archive of video performances. A new opera launches daily at 2:00 p.m. EDT, and the repertoire includes a complete traversal of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. (What better time than during social distancing to experience this 16-hour epic?)
A pioneer of video streaming, the Bavarian State Opera is making available several archival telecasts, including a starry performance of Il Trovatore (Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Harteros) and a striking recent production of Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle done in the style of Prime Suspect.
More archival material can be found on the free streaming service Operavision, and organizations offering free streaming orchestral music include the Berlin Philharmonic, the Seattle Symphony and BR-Klassik.
Closer to home, my blog parterre box offers nightly live chats at 8:00 p.m. keyed to rare live recordings from the podcast “Trove Thursday.” This evening’s show is Massenet’s Werther, standing in for the Met revival of that opera, which was supposed to open tonight.
And, in perhaps the most moving gesture so far of this crisis, the leading lady of that revival has already shared a “preview” of that ill-fated opera. Sunday afternoon mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato teamed with tenor Piotr Beczala, pianist Howard Watkins and harpist Emmanuel Ceysson for a touching presentation of scenes from Werther… live from DiDonato’s Manhattan apartment!
At the end of the stream, the weeping mezzo and her colleagues bumped elbows in lieu of the traditional curtain calls, a reminder that, with sensible precautions, opera can survive even a pandemic.