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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical Music Livestreams You Absolutely Need To See This Week (Oct. 5 – 11)

By Joseph So on October 5, 2020

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of October 5 – 11.
Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of October 5 – 11.

Critic’s Picks (October 5 – 11)

“We live in an extraordinary Age” — Carl Sagan. COVID-19 continues to profoundly disrupt our musical lives. While some venues have reopened with strict precautions, the road has been difficult. The dreaded second wave has arrived in parts of Europe. Some performances were cancelled, such as the Hessisches Staattheater Wiesbaden Le Nozze di Figaro and Il Barbiere di Siviglia. It has just been announced that Cecilia Bartoli’s Barcelona concert on October 17 is no more. After the cancellation of a performance of Un Ballo in Maschera on Sept. 21 at the Teatro Real (Madrid) due to lack of physical distancing in the galleries, the opera house corrected the deficiencies and a subsequent performance on October 2 took place successfully. It starred soprano Sondra Radvanovsky as Amelia, with two more performances to happen this week.

As an indication that creativity is alive and well amidst all the pandemic doom and gloom, a new piece has been commissioned by conductor Oliver Zeffman, Eight Songs From Isolation, exploring themes of distance. It features Zeffman conducting The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields chamber orchestra, with artists such as Sarah Connolly, Iestyn Davies, Sophie Bevan, Toby Spence, Julia Bullock and others. Another piece of good news is the recovery from COVID of Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, who will return to the stage at La Scala on Oct. 21 in an operatic recital.

On this side of the pond, many theatres sadly remain shuttered. The Metropolitan Opera will stay dark for the whole of the 2020-21 season. The original plan of reopening with a New Year’s Eve Gala proved unrealistic. With the closure of the biggest opera venue in the continent, it does not bode well for other opera companies in North America. A very few opera companies have found new ways to perform, such as San Diego Opera’s Drive-In La Boheme starring Angel Blue and Joshua Guerrero. 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, available for 23 hours. This is Wagner week, with some stunning performances on offer. Wigmore Hall, with its star-studded Autumn series, is well worth exploring. Equally noteworthy is San Francisco Opera’s free streaming in October of three archived performances — Tosca (Oct. 10-11), Attila (Oct. 17-18), and Le nozze di Figaro (Oct. 24-25). All streams start at 1 p.m. Saturday ET and are then archived for on-demand viewing until 2:59 a.m. ET Monday morning.

Monday 5

Met | Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde Starring Nina Stemme, Ekaterina Gubanova, Stuart Skelton, Evgeny Nikitin, and René Pape, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. From October 8, 2016. | Details

Tuesday 6

Wigmore Hall | Robin Tritschler and Graham Johnson 8 a.m. ET The Irish tenor Robin Tritschler gives an all-Schubert recital, exploring settings of texts by Schulze, Schiller, Matthisson and Goethe, and he is joined by pianist Graham Johnson. | Details

Met | Wagner’s Tannhäuser Starring Eva-Maria Westbroek, Michelle DeYoung, Johan Botha, Peter Mattei, and Günther Groissböck, conducted by James Levine. From October 31, 2015. | Details

Wednesday 7

University of Toronto Faculty of Music | Lawrence Brownlee Masterclass 12:00 – 2:30 pm ET  The marvelous American tenor is teaching two masterclasses available on YouTube. Link will be posted 11:00 am on day of class. Wednesday (Opera) and Thursday (Bel Canto). Details at https://music.utoronto.ca/concerts-events.php?eid=2958

Toronto Symphony Orchestra | TSO at the Drive-In: Kings of Ragtime 7 p.m. ET Hats off to the TSO for thinking outside the box with this physical concert at the CityView Drive-In on 20 Polson St in Toronto. When was the last time you were at a Drive-In? Experience classical music as you’ve never before! Gordon Gerrard conducts 25 TSO musicians in a program of Ragtime favourites by Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, George Gershwin, and others. Tickets are sold on a per-car basis ($80-200). | Details

Met | Wagner’s Das Rheingold Starring Christa Ludwig, Siegfried Jerusalem, James Morris, and Ekkehard Wlaschiha, conducted by James Levine. From April 23, 1990. | Details

Thursday 8

Met | Wagner’s Die Walküre Starring Hildegard Behrens, Jessye Norman, Christa Ludwig, Gary Lakes, James Morris, and Kurt Moll, conducted by James Levine. From April 8, 1989. This is an iconic performance, with a magnificent cast in the gorgeous albeit traditional Otto Schenk production that has since been replaced by the Lepage production. Not to be missed. | Details

Friday 9

Wigmore Hall | Louise Alder and Roger Vignoles 8 a.m. ET The wonderful British soprano Louise Alder was supposed to be Susanna in the cancelled COC Le nozze di Figaro this fall. You can still catch her here with Roger Vignoles on the piano, singing songs by Fanny Mendelssohn, Francis Poulenc, and Erik Satie. The centrepiece is Alban Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder.

Royal Ballet | Back On Stage 2:30 p.m. ET An evening celebrating the Royal Ballet’s return to the stage, livestreamed from the Royal Opera House. Available to watch or share for £16. To access this event, you will need to create a new ROH Stream account. | Details

Met | Wagner’s Siegfried Starring Hildegard Behrens, Siegfried Jerusalem, and James Morris, conducted by James Levine; From April 26, 1990. | Details

Saturday 10

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir | Kannamma – A Concert of Thanksgiving 8 p.m. ET An evening of songs of thanks, gratitude and love, with a program spanning European classical to jazz to pop to South Indian Carnatic music, to refreshing original compositions, complemented by visual arts and dance performance. Simon Rivard conducts. | Details

San Francisco Opera | Tosca 1 p.m. ET A production from 2014 starring Lianna Haroutounian (Tosca), Brian Jagde (Cavaradossi), and Mark Delavan (Scarpia), in a production by Thierry Bosquet. Riccardo Frizza conducts.

Met | Wagner’s Götterdämmerung Starring Hildegard Behrens, Christa Ludwig, Siegfried Jerusalem, and Matti Salminen, conducted by James Levine. From May 5, 1990. You can’t go wrong with this great cast, especially the moving Brunnhilde of the late Hildegard Behrens. | Details

Sunday 11

Met | Wagner’s Parsifal Starring Katarina Dalayman, Jonas Kaufmann, Peter Mattei, Evgeny Nikitin, and René Pape, conducted by Daniele Gatti. From March 2, 2013. This is the Francois Girard production that was to open the COC season this fall, now postponed to Fall 2022. | Details

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Wigmore Hall | Sir András Schiff Livestreamed last Sunday, the great Hungarian-born British pianist plays works by Schumann and Janacek.

2) Wigmore Hall | Kirill Gerstein Yet another great pianist at Wigmore. Kirill Gerstein plays Debussy’s Études Books I & II, and Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor S178. Streamed on Oct. 2.

3) Opera Breaks | Jennifer Taverner Domoney Artists, supported by a Canada Council Emergency Relief Grant, presents a series of short operatic “breaks,” to be released every Saturday in October. Filmed on location in Toronto, these videos feature singers with fresh voices in opera arias and musical theatre pieces, capturing the mood of our pandemic reality. Here’s soprano Jennifer Taverner singing Musetta’s “Quando m’en vo” from La Boheme, with pianist Kathryn Tremills. Next to come will feature tenor Ernesto Ramirez singing E lucevan le stelle from Tosca.

4) COVID Cello Project | Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 “Aria” Critic’s Picks closes this week with this beloved work by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. The melody is truly gorgeous, and when it’s performed by the massive forces of 120 cellists and 8 singers from 23 countries, it’s majestic yet ethereal and evocative. Give it a listen!

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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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