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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical Music Livestreams You Absolutely Need To See This Week (Sept. 28 – Oct. 4)

By Joseph So on September 28, 2020

CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical Music Livestreams You Absolutely Need To See This Week (Sept. 28 – Oct. 4)
CRITIC’S PICKS | Classical Music Livestreams You Absolutely Need To See This Week (Sept. 28 – Oct. 4)

Critic’s Picks (September 28 – October 4)

“We live in an extraordinary Age” – Carl Sagan. Now fully into the 2020-21 season, our musical life continues to be severely disrupted by COVID-19. While some venues, mostly European, have reopened with precautions, the road has been difficult. The much feared second wave has arrived, especially in France, Spain, Germany, and the UK. Some sad examples — the Hessisches Staattheater Wiesbaden has had to cancel Le Nozze di Figaro (Sept. 25) and Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Sept. 26) on order by the State for health and safety reasons. A performance of Un Ballo in Maschera on Sept. 21 at the Teatro Real (Madrid) was disrupted and subsequently cancelled, due to audience in the upper galleries protesting against a lack of social distancing.

On a happier note, just this week we learned of the recovery from COVID-19 of American soprano Nadine Sierra. Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, hospitalized in Moscow with COVID-19 related pneumonia, has been discharged. Her appearance as Leonora in Il Trovatore in Spain was cancelled and replaced by American soprano Rachel Willis Sorenson. Netrebko’s upcoming Met Stars Live in Concert on Oct. 10 has been postponed to February 6, 2021, with location to be announced. Similarly, the Met concert by Sondra Radvanovsky and Piotr Beczala, originally scheduled for September 26, is now rescheduled for January 21, 2021. However, their joint concert at the Teatro Liceu in Barcelona took place successfully a day later.

A bombshell announcement this week that the Metropolitan Opera will remain dark for the whole of the 2020-21 season. Given the rising cases in the US, the plan of a New Year’s Eve Gala to reopen the Met proved unrealistic. With the closure of the biggest opera venue in North America, it does not bode well for other opera companies on this side of the pond. A few have found new ways to perform, such as San Diego Opera’s Drive-In La Boheme starring Angel Blue and Joshua Guerrero. Sadly, this appears to be the new normal in the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, the Met continues with its free nightly stream, at 7:30 p.m. ET and available for 23 hours. This week is Mozart week, with a particularly noteworthy performance on Saturday of Le nozze di Figaro from 1998 with a fantastic cast starring Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Susanne Mentzer, Dwayne Croft, and Bryn Terfel, conducted by James Levine. There’s a lot of interesting shows available video-on-demand — enjoy!

Monday 28

Wigmore Hall | Angela Hewitt 2:30 p.m. ET The UK based Canadian pianist plays Bach’s The Art of Fugue BWV1080, which she recorded to great acclaim some years ago. This is only one of a plethora of choices from Wigmore Hall’s Autumn Series, all free with donations gratefully accepted.

Met | Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro Starring Amanda Majeski, Marlis Petersen, Isabel Leonard, Peter Mattei, and Ildar Abdrazakov, conducted by James Levine. From October 18, 2014. | Details

Tuesday 29

Met | Mozart’s Così fan tutte Starring Susanna Phillips, Isabel Leonard, Danielle de Niese, Matthew Polenzani, Rodion Pogossov, and Maurizio Muraro, conducted by James Levine. From April 26, 2014. | Details

Wednesday 30

Wigmore Hall | Ian Bostridge & Imogen Cooper 8 p.m. ET The British tenor sings a program of Beethoven and Schumann, including An die ferne Geliebte and Liederkreis.

Met | Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito Starring Lucy Crowe, Barbara Frittoli, Elīna Garanča, Kate Lindsey, Giuseppe Filianoti, and Oren Gradus, conducted by Harry Bicket. From December 1, 2012. | Details

Thursday 1

Met | Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte Starring Golda Schultz, Kathryn Lewek, Charles Castronovo, Markus Werba, Christian Van Horn, and René Pape, conducted by James Levine. From October 14, 2017. | Details

Friday 2

Upper Canada Choristers/Cantemos Ensemble | Inti Ukana: A Latin American Tapestry 7:30 p.m. ET This work is sung in Aymara, the language of an indigenous people of the Andean region. The song is performed in a new arrangement by Laurie Evan Fraser. Also included in the concert is Misa Criolla by Ariel Ramirez. | Details

Tom Allen | The Last Curlew: A Micro-concert 7:30 p.m. ET Beaches Presbyterian Church. A physical concert with social distancing. Also Oct. 3. Tickets: $30 The Last Curlew mixes storytelling and dance with music by Alexina Louie, R. Murray Schafer and Ralph Vaughan-Williams. Based on the pioneering environmental novel The Last of the Curlews, by Toronto naturalist and author Fred Bodsworth, it details the astonishing 13,000 km migration of a lone male of the Northern Curlew, a critically endangered arctic sea bird. The show features the harpist Lori Gemmell (Principal Harp, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony), TSO Assistant Concertmaster Etsuko Kimura, dancer Julia Aplin and narrators Annika Broadhead and Tom Allen. | Details

Met | Mozart’s Don Giovanni Starring Marina Rebeka, Barbara Frittoli, Mojca Erdmann, Ramón Vargas, Mariusz Kwiecień, Luca Pisaroni, and Štefan Kocán, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From October 29, 2011. | Details

Saturday 3

Met | Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro Starring Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Susanne Mentzer, Dwayne Croft, and Bryn Terfel, conducted by James Levine. From November 11, 1998. | Details

Sunday 4

Canzona Chamber Players | Jonathan Crow & Joseph Johnson 7 p.m. ET. The TSO Concertmaster Jonathan Crow and Principal Cello Joseph Johnson gives a fundraising concert for The Courage Fund, which provides “frontline staff, palliative care patients and the most vulnerable members of our community with the food, clothing, and tablet computers they need to keep going, keep connected and keep safe.” Works by Gliere, Alice Hong, Kodaly, and Handel-Halvorsen.

Met | Mozart’s Idomeneo Starring Elza van den Heever, Nadine Sierra, Alice Coote, Matthew Polenzani, and Alan Opie, conducted by James Levine. From March 25, 2017. | Details

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Royal College of Music | Alfred Brendel Masterclass Streamed on September 17 of an event originally recorded in 2011, the legendary pianist gives a masterclass on Liszt B minor sonata.

2) OperaVision | Marina Rebeka The Latvian soprano gives an operatic recital at the Rundāle Castle in Latvia. On the program are arias by Verdi, Puccini, Catalani and Lehar. She is joined by pianist Laila Holberga, who contributes piano solo pieces. Live streamed on September 25.

3) Wigmore Hall | Gerald Finley and Julius Drake The great Canadian bass-baritone sings a program of Faure, Duparc, Barber, Ives, Arlen, and Porter. Streamed on September 26 and now available on demand.

4) Screaming Divas | Carlos Alvarez Sopranos/best pals Sondra Radvanovsky and Keri Alkema chat with the veteran Spanish baritone about his long and distinguished career.

5) BYU Vocal Point | Nearer, My God, To Thee BYU Vocal Point stands for Brigham Young University’s 9-man a cappella ensemble. In this evocative rendition of Nearer, My God, To Thee, the ensemble is joined by 800 musicians from 55 countries. Music by Sarah Adams and Lowell Mason, with original Latin lyrics and arrangement by James Stevens. Premiered August 7 and available on demand.

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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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