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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical And Opera Streams You Absolutely Need To See This Week

By Joseph So on November 30, 2020

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of November 30 – December 6.
Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of November 30 – December 6.

Critic’s Picks (November 30 – December 6)

“We live in an extraordinary Age” — Carl Sagan. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to decimate our musical lives. The dreaded second wave is getting worse, forcing virtually all venues to close once again. Semperoper Dresden just announced all performances cancelled until Dec. 28. Surprisingly, the Opéra National de Paris where Alexander Neef is now in charge, has just announced that it will reopen both of its theaters starting on Dec. 15, 2020. On the program are La Bohème and concerts by the Academy and Les Arts Florissants. There will also be a recital by Julie Fuchs as well as the Ballet School’s production of Classes en scène.

The venerable Teatro alla Scala reportedly has 50 COVID cases in its chorus, orchestra and staff. It has cancelled its fabled opening night on Dec. 7, 2020, when it was supposed to stage a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor with Lisette Oropesa and Juan Diego Florez. According to Norman Lebrecht’s Slipped Disc, “Instead it has cameos from Ildar Abdrazakov, Roberto Alagna, Carlos Alvarez, Piotr Beczala, Benjamin Bernheim, Eleonora Buratto, Marianne Crebassa, Placido Domingo, Juan Diego Florez, Elina Garanca, Vittorio Grigolo, Jonas Kaufmann, Aleksandra Kurzak, Francesco Meli, Camilla Nylund, Kristine Opolais, Lisette Oropesa, Marina Rebeka, Ludovic Tezier, and Sonya Yoncheva. Music director Riccardo Chailly will conduct the Scala orchestra and chorus.” When and where these video clips come from is not clear. The La Scala Orchestra, which has its own concert series, has cancelled its own opening night, on December 14.

In North America, performing arts venues are virtually shuttered. The National Ballet of Canada cancelled its entire season, as has the Metropolitan Opera and the COC. Recently, it was announced that the National and Cineplex are joining forces to bring The Nutcracker to your local Cineplex cinemas, beginning December 4. Sadly, Toronto and Peel Region are in lockdown again, meaning all cinemas there will not open. Presumably, the plan of showing the Holiday classic in the rest of Canada will go ahead, and the video is still available for home streaming.

A piece of good news is the announcement of a livestreamed pay-per-view New Year’s Eve Gala presented by the Met — that will take place in Germany! It features Pretty Yende and Javier Camarena, replacing their originally scheduled concert. They will be joined by Angel Blue and Matthew Polenzani, performing from the Parktheater in Augsburg, Germany. The Sonya Yoncheva concert is postponed yet again, leading to speculation that she has COVID-19. Today, she quelled the rumour by posting on social media that she has severe bronchitis. Carnegie Hall announced it has cancelled all live performances until April 5, 2021. The Cleveland Orchestra also cancelled all of its Christmas concerts. Lincoln Centre has cancelled all performances for spring 2021, which means its Great Performers series and its 2020-21 David Rubenstein Atrium Season are gone.

Thank goodness there’s always music on the internet. Wiener Staatsoper has resumed its free streaming. Very interesting that Jonas Kaufmann, now a bona fide Heldentenor, is taking on the lyric role of Rodolfo in La Boheme! Also very interesting is the Kirsten Flagstad Jubilee Concert celebrating the 125th anniversary of her birth from Den Norske Opera. Glyndebourne’s annual tour is cancelled, but the company is offering a free stream of its Rusalka, albeit with a very tight window of availability. The Met’s free nightly stream continues, starting at 7:30 p.m. ET and available for 23 hours. Lots of Canadian content this week, including soprano Simone Osborne and her baritone husband Gordon Bintner singing a recital from Oper Frankfurt.

Monday 30

Bayerische Staatsoper | Puccini’s La Bohème — 2:15 p.m. ET. As part of its Montagsstücke series, the livestream of this Puccini gem stars Jonas Kaufmann in his Munich role debut as Rodolfo, Rachel Willis-Sørensen as Mimi, Mirjam Mesak as Musetta, Andrei Zhilikhovsky as Marcello, and Sean Michael Plumb as Schaunard. Asher Fisch conducts. No physical audience due to lockdown. Livestream is free, but viewing starting Dec. 3 for 30 days requires a 14.90 Euros ticket. | Details

Wiener Staatsoper | Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail — 1:00 p.m. ET. Antonello Manacorda, conductor; Hans Neuenfels, director. Lisette Oropesa (Konstanze), Regula Mühlemann (Blonde); Goran Jurić (Osmin); Daniel Behle (Belmonte). Be aware there are actors playing the same characters in addition to the singers. This is your typical Neuenfels concept production. You can’t go wrong with the voices! | Details

Met | Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Starring Renée Fleming, Ramón Vargas, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Valery Gergiev. From February 24, 2007. A signature performance from all the principals, made more poignant with the passing of Dmitri Hvorostovsky in 2017. | Details

Piano Lunaire | The Beaver Moon — 8 p.m. ET. This concert is a fully edited, digital presentation of the Blue Moon Gala with Stephen Runge and Adam Sherkin from last October.

Tuesday 1

Wiener Staatsoper | Strauss’ Capriccio — 1 p.m. ET. Michael Boder, conductor. Camilla Nylund, Markus Eiche, Michael Schade, Adrian Eröd, Wolfgang Bankl, and Angelika Kirchschlager. | Details

Met | Verdi’s Aida. Starring Leontyne Price, Fiorenza Cossotto, James McCracken, and Simon Estes, conducted by James Levine. From January 3, 1985. One of Leontyne Price’s last opera performances, who retired in a blaze of glory. | Details

Wednesday 2

IRCPA | Moving Artists Forward: A Conversation with Managers Kathy Domoney and Andrew Kwan. 4:30 p.m. ET Two well known Canadian managers/agents have nurtured the careers of many artists. Here they give their thoughts on how to manage in this difficult time for the performing arts. You need to RSVP to info@ircpa.net to get a link to join the Zoom event. | Details

Wiener Staatsoper | Puccini’s La Boheme — 1 p.m. ET (performance on December 22, 2019). Marco Armiliato, conductor. Stefan Pop, Irina Lungu, Samuel Hasselhorn, and Mariam Battistelli. | Details

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 striking Francois Girard production originally scheduled at the COC this fall. It will arrive in fall, 2022. | Details

Thursday 3

Wiener Staatsoper | Kienzl’s Don Quixote — 1 p.m. ET (performance in June 2016). Kevin Rhodes, conductor. Maria Yakovleva, Denys Cherevychko, Ketevan Papava, Roman Lazik, Olga Esina. | Details

Royal Conservatory of Music | Adrianne Pieczonka with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra conducted by Johannes Debus 8 p.m. ET. Part of the Beethoven 250 Festival, Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka sings Schubert’s “Erlkönig”, “Der Engel” and “Traume” from Wesendonck-Lieder, and Leonore’s great scena from Fidelio. Orchestral selections are Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont, op. 84, and Symphony No. 2 in D major, op. 36. Tickets: $55. Details.

Met | Verdi’s Macbeth. Starring Anna Netrebko, Joseph Calleja, Željko Lučić, and René Pape, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From October 11, 2014. | Details

Friday 4

Wiener Staatsoper | Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande — 1 p.m. ET (performance on June 30, 2017). Alain Altinoglu, conductor. Bernarda Fink, Adrian Eröd, Simon Keenlyside, among others, Olga Bezsmertna, Maria Nazarova. | Details

San Francisco Opera | Celebrating the Voices of SFO — 10:30 p.m. ET. Co-Hosted by Matthew Shilvock and Eun Sun Kim, this virtual concert features Janai Brugger, Sondra Radvanovsky, Michael Fabiano, Artur Ruciński, Nicola Luisotti and others. Livestreamed is free as part of Opera is ON, but archival access is available for donors of $75 and up and to all San Francisco Opera subscribers and members. Registration required [HERE].| Details

Upper Canada Choristers and Cantemos | Comfort and Joy — 7:30 p.m. ET. A live-stream from Grace Church on-the-Hill in Toronto, with Cantemos and some choristers on stage, and the rest of the choir live via the internet. Program includes “Gloria” by Antonio Vivaldi, the premiere of the song “Comfort and Joy” by Laurie Evan Fraser, and three Villancicos de Navidad from Spain.

Met | Bizet’s Carmen. Starring Barbara Frittoli, Elīna Garanča, Roberto Alagna, and Teddy Tahu Rhodes, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. From January 16, 2010. | Details

Saturday 5

Wiener Staatsoper | Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West — 1 p.m. ET (performance in October 2013). Franz Welser-Möst, conductor. Nina Stemme, Jonas Kaufmann, Tomasz Konieczny. | Details

Met | Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. Starring Jessye Norman, Kathleen Battle, Tatiana Troyanos, and James King, conducted by James Levine. From March 12, 1988. An iconic performance not to be missed. | Details

Sunday 6

Wiener Staatsoper | Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila — 1 p.m. ET (performance on May 18, 2018). Marco Armiliato, conductor. Elina Garanca, Roberto Alagna, Carlos Álvarez, and Sorin Coliban. | Details

Met | Puccini’s Tosca. Starring Shirley Verrett, Luciano Pavarotti, and Cornell MacNeil, conducted by James Conlon. From December 19, 1978. Sadly, all three stars are no longer with us, but we have this video legacy to remind us how terrific they were. | Details

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Glyndebourne Opera | Dvořák’s Rusalka. The annual Glyndebourne tour is cancelled due to the pandemic, but it’s offering instead a stream of its Rusalka. Robin Ticciati conducts; Sally Mathews is Rusalka. Available only until Monday 30 November. Don’t miss it!

2) Oper Frankfurt | Simone Osborne and Gordon Bintner in Recital. Live streamed on Nov. 27 and now on demand, the two Canadians, fest artists at Frankfurt Opera, sing songs and arias by Mendelssohn, Verdi, Wagner, and musical theatre. Simone Di Felice is the pianist.

3) Den Norske Opera & Ballett | Kirsten Flagstad Jubilee Concert. Premiered on Nov. 29 and now on demand, this concert celebrates the 125th anniversary of the birth of the great Norwegian soprano. Kirill Karabits conducts the Den Norske Opera Orchestra, featuring the voices of mezzo Astrid Nordstad, sopranos Birgitte Christensen, Eli Kristin Hanssveen, and Elisabeth Teige, tenor Henrik Engelsviken and others.

4) Screaming Divas with Sondra and Keri | Golda Schultz. Streamed on Nov. 27 and now on demand, Sondra and Keri chat with the wonderful South African soprano Golda Schultz. I lifted this from Sondra and Keri: “Join us as we talk with the amazingly talented and beautiful-hearted soprano, Golds Schultz, about our mutual love of singing, the path it can take you on, using our voices as women to change the narrative, and the importance of kindness.”

5) Erica Miner | Staged For Murder Virtual Book Party (Zoom) 5 p.m. ET Now for something a little different – former Met Opera violinist and now celebrated author is hosting a virtual book party on the occasion of the e-book release of her Opera Mystery, Staged For Murder. There’ll be music, an author interview, a quiz and more. To register, sign up [HERE] and put ‘Book Party’ in the ‘Message’ section. You will receive the Zoom link shortly before the event. | Details

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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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