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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical Music Livestreams You Absolutely Need To See This Week (November 2 – 8)

By Joseph So on November 2, 2020

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of November 2 – 8.
Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of November 2 – 8.

Critic’s Picks (November 2 – 8)

“We live in an extraordinary Age” – Carl Sagan. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to profoundly disrupt our musical lives. The dreaded second wave has arrived with a vengeance, forcing many venues that had reopened to close again. Beginning on Monday Nov. 2, Germany will be in lockdown for at least a month, meaning all opera houses and concert halls closed. Ditto for the Paris Opera in France. The Czech Republic is under strict lockdown. Switzerland has new strict measures. Events with more than 50 people will be prohibited. That means the Lucerne Festival’s planned Beethoven Festival is no more, and the Opernhaus Zurich and Grand Theatre de Geneve are closed for the month of November. The Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona is shut until November 24.

The Italian government has just announced that all theatres and concert halls are closed until Nov. 24. Both La Scala and Teatro San Carlo di Napoli are reporting new COVID-19 cases. La Scala has seen 21 musicians test positive since the closing of the theatre. Among those testing positive, according to the theatre’s spokesperson, were chorus members, string and wind players as well as star tenor Francesco Meli. La Scala will supposedly re-open after Nov. 24 for its run of La Boheme. Belgium, one of the hardest hit countries currently, has ordered La Monnaie closed until Nov. 22, reopening afterwards for performances of Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor. That said, in these uncertain times, nothing is certain, so I would not hold my breath.

The news is equally grim on this side of the pond. Cineplex Canada cancelled its planned encore screenings of three Met HD performances. The National Ballet of Canada cut short its run of The Dreamers Ever Leave You. The Metropolitan Opera will stay dark for the whole of the 2020-21 season, and the COC has cancelled its entire 2020-21 season. The Met Stars Live in Concert featuring soprano Pretty Yende and tenor Javier Camarena, scheduled for Nov. 7, has been postponed due to the non-COVID illness of Camarena. Carnegie Hall just announced it has cancelled all live performances until April 5, 2021. Lincoln Centre has cancelled all performances for spring 2021, which means its Great Performers series and 2020-21 David Rubenstein Atrium Season, as well as the annual American Songbook series, are all gone.

Thank goodness that music lovers can turn to cyberspace for solace. The Met continues with its free nightly stream, at 7:30 p.m. ET and available for 23 hours. Given that this is the 34th week of streaming, even the Met with its huge archives is recycling some shows through ingenious repackaging: this is the first of a two-week program billed as From the Baroque to the Present: A Two-Week Tour of Opera History. Finally, be sure to watch the many video-on-demand offerings. A great choice is the Royal Conservatory Orchestra concert led by Jonathan Crow that took place earlier in October and now available for free streaming.

Monday 2

Wigmore Hall | Alice Coote & Christian Blackshaw: Winterreise 2:30 p.m. ET The distinguished British mezzo Alice Coote tackles Winterreise, the Mount Everest of song cycle. Christian Blackshaw is the pianist. Not-to-be-missed.

Met | Handel’s Rodelinda. Starring Renée Fleming, Stephanie Blythe, Andreas Scholl, Iestyn Davies, Joseph Kaiser, and Shenyang, conducted by Harry Bicket. From December 3, 2011. | Details

Tuesday 3

University of Toronto Faculty of Music | Graham Johnson Masterclass 12:10 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET The wonderful British pianist Graham Johnson, the John R Stratton Visitor in Music, is presenting a lecture on Franz Schubert featuring voice and piano duos. | Details

Met | Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. Starring Danielle de Niese, Heidi Grant Murphy, and Stephanie Blythe, conducted by James Levine. From January 24, 2009. | Details

Wednesday 4

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

Thursday 5

Met | Rossini’s Semiramide. Starring Angela Meade, Elizabeth DeShong, Javier Camarena, Ildar Abdrazakov, and Ryan Speedo Green, conducted by Maurizio Benini. From March 10, 2018. | Details

Friday 6

IRCPA | Conversation with Tomson Highway 12:30 p.m. ET Now for something non-classical — playwright, author and musician Tomson Highway in a Zoom conversation, courtesy of International Resource Centre for Performing Artists. Attendance is free, but pre-registration is required, with an RSVP to info@ircpa.net. The Zoom link will be provided closer to the date. | Details

Met | Verdi’s La Forza del Destino. Starring Leontyne Price, Giuseppe Giacomini, Leo Nucci, and Bonaldo Giaiotti, conducted by James Levine. From March 24, 1984. | Details

Saturday 7

Met | Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. Starring Anna Netrebko, Roberto Alagna, Nathan Gunn, and Robert Lloyd, conducted by Plácido Domingo. From December 15, 2007. | Details

Sunday 8

Met | Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Starring Annette Dasch, Johan Botha, Paul Appleby, and Michael Volle, conducted by James Levine. From December 13, 2014. | Details

Trio Arkel | Catching Fire. 3:00 ET. Toronto’s Trio Arkel opens its 7th season with a virtual concert with Johannes Brahms C Minor Piano Quartet and works by American composer Jennifer Higdon and the great Ludwig Van Beethoven. | Details

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Royal Conservatory of Music | Royal Conservatory Orchestra RCO’s first concert of the season that took place on October 4 was taped for streaming on Oct. 30, and now available on demand. TSO Concertmaster Jonathan Crow led the RCO forces, replacing the originally announced Trevor Pinnock, in Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K. 385 (“Haffner”), and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat Major, op. 73 (“Emperor”), Sae Yoon Chon, pianist and winner of the 2020–2021 Ihnatowycz Prize. | Details

2) Teatro Colon | Rusalka Streamed live on Oct. 25 and now on demand, Argentina’s famous opera house Teatro Colon presents the Dvorák classic with Puerto Rican soprano Ana María Martínez in the title role and Russian tenor Dmitry Golovnin as the Prince. Conductor is none other than Julian Kuerti, the son of Anton.

3) Deutsche Oper am Rhein | Der Kaiser von Atlantis Austrian-Jewish composer Viktor Ullmann wrote this while a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camp in Theresienstadt. He perished in the gas chambers in Auschwitz in 1944. The chamber opera premiered in Amsterdam in 1975. The COC Ensemble Studio staged it some twenty years ago, with a cast led by James Westman as the Emperor. The Deutsche Oper am Rhein production, streamed by OperaVision on October 30, now available on demand for a six-month period. Axel Kober conducts the Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra and a committed cast in a haunting work.

4) Concours musical international de Montréal | Rihab Chaieb More video clips of performances by laureates of the 2018 CMIM. This time it’s the Canadian mezzo Rihab Chaieb, winner of the Best Canadian Artist Award. In the semifinals, she sings the Komponist Aria from Ariadne auf Naxos, and Charlotte’s scena from Werther. Graeme Jenkins conducts.

5) Wigmore Hall | Steven Isserlis and Connie Shih Cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Connie Shih present a program of works by Hahn, Saint-Saëns, Adès Chaminade, Fauré, and Franck.

6) VoiceBox/Opera In Concert | Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny This Kurt Weill satire got a rare staging in Canada in 2019, featuring an enthusiastic ensemble cast: Elizabeth DeGrazia (Jenny), Michael Barrett (Jimmy Mahoney), Beste Kalender (Widow Begbick). Here is a 20-minute snippet. Robert Cooper (Music and Chorus Director); Narmina Efendiyeva (piano); Guillermo Silva-Marin (stage director).

7) Bolshoi Theatre | World Ballet Day: Bolshoi Ballet Live. Last Week was World Opera Day, can Ballet be far behind? Here it is, a three-hour stream on Oct. 29 of the magnificent Bolshoi Ballet, now available on demand. You will see fragments of rehearsals for The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Onegin. Unfortunately, only Russian subtitles! A must-see for balletomanes.

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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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