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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical Music Livestreams You Absolutely Need To See This Week

By Joseph So on August 24, 2020

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of August 24 – 30.
Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of August 24 – 30.

Critic’s Picks (August 24 – 30)

“We live in an extraordinary Age” – Carl Sagan. Since early spring of 2020, a tiny previously unknown virus, COVID-19, has shut down our musical life. We are now near the tail end of summer, and the pandemic is still with us. There is a noticeable diminution of streaming, but not at the Met, which is streaming all Verdi operas this week, including two starring the late, great Siberian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Also interesting is new Wagnerian soprano sensation Lise Davidsen in a livestream recital from her home city of Oslo. Met’s nightly operas start at 7:30 p.m. ET and remain available for 23 hours. Video-on-demand recommendations this week include Glimmerglass’s Virtual Town Hall, Glyndebourne’s The Fairy Queen, Virtual Verbier Festival starring pianist Yuja Wang, and others. If you like your Wagner al fresco, don’t miss Act One Die Walkure, coming from the garden of the home of German heldentenor Stefan Vinke, who sings Siegmund!

Monday 24

Met | Verdi’s Rigoletto Diana Damrau, Oksana Volkova, Piotr Beczała, Željko Lučić, and Štefan Kocán, conducted by Michele Mariotti. From February 16, 2013. | Details

Tuesday 25

Met | Verdi’s Il Trovatore Anna Netrebko, Dolora Zajick, Yonghoon Lee, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Štefan Kocán, conducted by Marco Armiliato. From October 3, 2015. | Details

Toronto Concert Orchestra | Tribute to Kerry 7:30 p.m. ET This orchestra, known for its “Concert In The Garden” at Casa Loma, pays tribute to the late conductor Kerry Stratton, its long-time maestro. Included is a piece by TCO’s new Composer-In-Residence, Sam Bisson. | Details

Wednesday 26

Met | Verdi’s Luisa Miller Sonya Yoncheva, Olesya Petrova, Piotr Beczała, Plácido Domingo, Alexander Vinogradov, and Dmitry Belosselskiy, conducted by Bertrand de Billy. From April 14, 2018. | Details

Thursday 27

Met | Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera Sondra Radvanovsky, Kathleen Kim, Stephanie Blythe, Marcelo Álvarez, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From December 8, 2012. | Details

Friday 28

Met | Verdi’s La Traviata Diana Damrau, Juan Diego Flórez, and Quinn Kelsey, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. From December 15, 2018. | Details

Saturday 29

The Met | Live in HD: Agrippina (Handel) Italian w/e.s.t. ENCORE. While the Metropolitan Opera has canceled all future Live in HD events due to the pandemic, Encore presentations of Agrippina have been rescheduled starting August 29. At time of publishing, exacts dates are to be announced. We will update this page once confirmed. | Details

CBC | Saturday Afternoon at the Opera: The Monkiest King (Audio Only) 3 p.m. ET Based on a famous Chinese folktale, and commissioned by the CCOC for its 50th Anniversary in 2018, The Monkiest King (孫悟空- 淘氣小猴皇) is a short opera by composer Alice Ping-Yee Ho and librettist Marjorie Chan. It tells the story of the mythical Monkey King, a folk legend well known not just in China but in neighbouring Southeast Asia. Hosted by Ben Heppner. | Details

Met Stars Live In Concert | Lise Davidsen 1 p.m. ET Considered the brightest young Wagnerian star soprano, Norway’s Lise Davidsen sings live from the Oscarshall Palace in Oslo. The program, with piano accompaniment by James Baillieu, includes arias from Tannhäuser, Ariadne auf Naxos, Un ballo in Maschera, Manon Lescaut, Csárdásfürstin, plus songs by Strauss, Sibelius and Grieg. Tickets are $20 USD and will remain available on demand for 12 days. | Details

Met | Verdi’s Don Carlo Marina Poplavskaya, Anna Smirnova, Roberto Alagna, Simon Keenlyside, Ferruccio Furlanetto, and Eric Halfvarson, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. From December 11, 2010. | Details

Sunday 30

Met | Verdi’s Falstaff Lisette Oropesa, Angela Meade, Stephanie Blythe, Jennifer Johnson Cano, Paolo Fanale, Ambrogio Maestri, and Franco Vassallo, conducted by James Levine. From December 14, 2013. | Details

More interesting choices (video on demand)

1) Glimmerglass Festival | Virtual Town Hall If you have read her book or seen the opera Dead Man Walking, you will be familiar with Sister Helen Prejean. A Roman Catholic nun, Prejean’s time as a spiritual advisor for prisoners on death row inspired her book by the same name. It also inspired a stage play and a film. It details her correspondence with Patrick Sonnier, the convicted killer of two teenagers who was sentenced to death in Louisiana’s Angola State Prison. Prejean has since dedicated her ministry to eliminating capital punishment. She’s interviewed by Teresa A. Miller, Senior Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Chief Diversity Officer for The State University of New York (SUNY) and criminal procedure specialist.

2) Virtual Verbier Festival | Yuja Wang This is one of five live-streamed evenings (from 16 July through 2 August) by Deutsche Grammophon, in partnership with Virtual Verbier Festival. It contains video interviews, masterclasses and re-broadcasts of favourite concerts, combined with exclusive new content. This one stars the visually flamboyant and spectacularly gifted Chinese pianist Yuja Wang. Available for free video on demand.

3) Glyndebourne Open House | The Fairy Queen Jonathan Kent’s 2009 production of Purcell’s 17th-century work has special resonance to our time, with conductor William Christie and a cast including Lucy Crowe, Carolyn Sampson and Ed Lyon. Live streamed on August 23, it is available to view on YouTube or the Glyndebourne website until Sunday 30 August at 5.00 p.m.

4) Screaming Divas with Sondra and Keri | Dr. Aaron Low Calling all singers and voice lovers curious about the mechanics of singing — Canadian speech pathologist Dr. Aaron Low of The Voice Clinic in Toronto speaks with Sondra and Keri about the singing voice and how to keep it healthy. I interviewed Dr. Low a few years ago for an article in Opera Canada, and he’s definitely a go-to guru on voice issues. Quite technical and perhaps not for everyone, but highly recommended.

5) Klassik Radio | Wagner Festspiele in Hargesheim bei Familie Vinke im Garten. With the pandemic and the result cancellations, German heldentenor Stefan Vinke took matters into his own hands. He and his wife soprano Sabine performed Act One Die Walkure in their garden! With Korean bass Song Ha (Hunding) and pianist Wolfram Koloseus. It was streamed by Klassik Radio, with an audience sitting on garden furniture – quite a departure from the stuffy opera houses! Never mind, the artists were in formal wear, with a red carpet, and the all-important champagne.

6) Toronto Operetta Theatre | La belle Helene Something cheery to end Critic’s Picks: a 20-minute highlight of this lovely Offenbach piece, staged by Guillermo Silva-Marin, with Beste Kalender (Helene), Adam Fisher (Paris), Gregory Finney (Menelaus), Matthew Zadow (Calchas), Cian Horrobin (Orestes), and Lynn Isnar (Daphne). Peter Tiefenbach conducts.

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Joseph So

Joseph So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University and Associate Editor of Opera Canada.He is also a long-time contributor to La Scena Musicale and Opera (London, UK). His interest in music journalism focuses on voice, opera as well as symphonic and piano repertoires. He appears regularly as a panel member of the Big COC Podcast.He has co-edited a book, Opera in a Multicultural World: Coloniality, Culture, Performance, published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).
Joseph So

Joseph So

Joseph So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University and Associate Editor of Opera Canada.He is also a long-time contributor to La Scena Musicale and Opera (London, UK). His interest in music journalism focuses on voice, opera as well as symphonic and piano repertoires. He appears regularly as a panel member of the Big COC Podcast.He has co-edited a book, Opera in a Multicultural World: Coloniality, Culture, Performance, published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).
Joseph So
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