Critic’s Picks (September 14 – 20)
“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. Now into autumn, some venues in Europe are gradually reopening. Some have met with success, but there have been casualties. Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre was forced to cancel the third of three performances of Don Carlo on September 10, when its star bass Ildar Abdrazakov tested COVID positive. Russia is in the unenviable position of having the fourth most positive cases in the world. Spain, also with rising cases, has seen the relocation of a Met Stars Live in Concert recital by Joyce DiDonato to Germany, and the postponement of another, starring Sondra Radvanovsky and Piotr Beczala. Palais Garnier (Paris Opera) reopens September 19, while Opera Bastille reopens on November 23 with Das Rheingold in concert. The 27th week of the Met’s nightly free streaming is devoted to Bel Canto operas. Canadians featured include bass John Relyea and soprano Sondra Radvanovsky. Regarding free streaming, there’s much discussion of how sustainable it is.
Given that arts presenters and artists are hurting just like the rest of society, is it fair to expect them to continue giving their work away? Here’s a thoughtful article on the issue. Increasingly, some venues remain free while others have adopted a subscription and/or pay-per-view model.
Royal Opera Covent Garden’s Carmen costs an extremely modest 3 British Pounds. Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall requires a subscription. Wigmore Hall has announced an ambitious 100 concerts in its fall season, most with an audience, albeit reduced to 10% capacity (56 people), gradually increasing to 20% as the season progresses.
Met | Donizetti’s Don Pasquale Anna Netrebko, Matthew Polenzani, Mariusz Kwiecień, and John Del Carlo; conducted by James Levine. From November 13, 2010. | Details
Met | Rossini’s Le Comte Ory Diana Damrau, Joyce DiDonato, and Juan Diego Flórez; conducted by Maurizio Benini. From April 9, 2011. | Details
Met | Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment Natalie Dessay, Felicity Palmer, Juan Diego Flórez, and Alessandro Corbelli; conducted by Marco Armiliato. From April 26, 2008. | Details
Met | Rossini’s La Cenerentola Elīna Garanča, Lawrence Brownlee, Simone Alberghini, Alessandro Corbelli, and John Relyea; conducted by Maurizio Benini. From May 9, 2009. | Details
Royal Opera Covent Garden | Carmen 2 p.m. ET Barrie Kosky’s cabaret-inspired production, broadcast online via Vimeo as part of the Royal Opera House’s #OurHouseToYourHouse series. Jakub Hrůša conducts; Anna Goryachova (Carmen), Francesco Meli (Don José), Kostas Smoriginas (Escamillo) and Kristina Mkhitaryan (Micaëla). Ticket is a bargain-basement £3!
Met | Bellini’s I Puritani Anna Netrebko, Eric Cutler, Franco Vassallo, and John Relyea; conducted by Patrick Summers. From January 6, 2007. | Details
Met | Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore Pretty Yende, Matthew Polenzani, Davide Luciano, and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo; conducted by Domingo Hindoyan. From February 10, 2018. | Details
Met | Bellini’s Norma Sondra Radvanovsky, Joyce DiDonato, Joseph Calleja, and Matthew Rose, conducted by Carlo Rizzi. From October 7, 2017. | Details
1) Royal Opera Covent Garden | Live In Concert Live streamed earlier and now available pay-per-view for the next 30 days, this gala stars sopranos Lisette Oropesa and Kristine Opolais, tenors Charles Castronovo and Filipe Manu, bass-baritone Gerald Finley and others. Antonio Pappano conducts, in a program of Mozart, Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti, Bizet, Offenbach and more. | Details
2) Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall | Meet Kirill Petrenko! Readers have asked me about details of the Berlin Phil pay-per-view or subscription system. If you can’t decide, try it for free! Here is their great conductor Kirill Petrenko conducting a series of concerts you can access for free, a program of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Scriabin and Elgar. What could be better? | Details
3) The Juilliard School | Masterclasses with Renee Fleming The American star soprano gives a series of six masterclasses to Juilliard voice students earlier this year, recently made available online. | Details
4) Wigmore Hall | Genius And Anxiety The controversial but always fascinating music journalist, and Ludwig Van columnist Norman Lebrecht talks about his newest book, Genius And Anxiety, on the role Jews played in the world (1847-1947).
5) Wigmore Hall | Christian Gerhaher If you prefer singing over talking, the great German baritone Christian Gerhaher fits the bill superbly, in a program of Schubert and Berg, with Gerold Huber at the piano. Live streamed on September 13, free with registration, available for 30 days. | Details
6) Toronto Operetta Theatre | Los Gavilanes (The Sparrow Hawks) Half hour worth of highlights of this zarzuela from Spain, presented by TOT back in 2016, in its Canadian premiere. It features Miriam Khalil, Ernesto Ramirez, Diego Catala, Guillermo Silva-Marin and others.
7) Teatro alla Scala | Verdi Requiem Critic’s Picks ends this week with a sublime Verdi Requiem from the Duomo di Milano, with Riccardo Chailly conducting a superb quartet of soloists — soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, mezzo Elina Garanca, tenor Francesco Meli, and bass Rene Pape.
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