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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical And Opera Streams You Absolutely Need To See This Week: January 25 – 31

By Joseph So on January 25, 2021

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of January 25 – 31.
Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of January 25 – 31.

Critic’s Picks (January 25 – 31)

“We live in an extraordinary Age” – Carl Sagan. Sadly, COVID-19 continues to decimate our musical life, with a depressing list of postponements and cancellations to start the new year. Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège cancelled concerts by Juan Diego Flórez (Jan. 8) and Jonas Kaufmann (Jan. 10) due to pandemic measures by the government of Belgium. Opera houses in Darmstadt, Kassel, Wiesbaden, Marburg and Gießen would remain closed until Easter. To that list now you can add Staatsoper Hannover, Deutsches Nationaltheater and Staatskapelle Weimar, Oper Frankfurt, Semperoper Dresden, and National-theater Mannheim. The Palau de Les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia, Spain has announced the cancellation of its whole run of Verdi’s Falstaff (Jan. 21 – 31) due to COVID-19 cases in the production team.

Interestingly, a new study in Dortmund by Fraunhofer Heinrich Institute & Konzerthaus Dortmund has concluded that concert halls and theatres are not COVID superspreader venues when the proper precautions are taken. Let’s hope they are right! Elsewhere, the Wiener Staatsoper has cancelled all performances until at least Jan. 28, on order from the Austrian federal government; Opernhaus Zürich, Grand Théâtre de Genève, and Theater Basel are closed until at least Feb. 28, due to the Swiss federal authorities extending the lockdown. The Italian government has declared a State of Emergency to last until April 30. The Opéra de Monte Carlo has updated performance times for its upcoming Thaïs due to the new curfew imposed in Monaco.

The Royal Swedish Opera has announced that it will extend closure until at least March 26, 2021, due to the current COVID-19 infection situation. If the pandemic situation allows, the opera house will reopen its doors for the premiere of Richard Strauss’ opera Ariadne auf Naxos on March 27. According to Opera Wire, Teatro Massimo di Palermo will be livestreaming the opening of its 2021 season with the performance of the complex site-specific opera Il Crepuscolo dei Sogni on Jan. 26.

The Met Opera’s nightly free streaming features “Antiheroes” this week, with plenty of star singers giving their all — Jonas Kaufmann, Juan Diego Florez, Simon Keenlyside, Željko Lučić, Evgeny Nikitin and others. All Met nightly streams start at 7:30 p.m. ET and are available for 23 hours. On the Video-On-Demand front, a good choice is the recital by the great pianist Grigory Sokolov. COC audiences will be interested in the audio interview of both COC General Directors, the departing Alexander Neef and the incoming Perryn Leech. To hear opera stars of tomorrow, there are some terrific voices at the just concluded Vinas Vocal Competition from Barcelona. Finally, for fans of concept productions, here’s a jaw-dropping treatment of the Puccini warhorse guaranteed to knock your socks off — you get two Toscas, in the persons of Angel Blue and a Norma Desmond-like Catherine Malfitano, courtesy of the 2019 Aix-en-Provence Festival.

Monday 25

Bayerische Staatsoper | Montagsstucke XI: Sehnliches Verlangen (Ardent Desire) — 2:15 p.m. ET. Zubin Mehta conducts the Bayerisches Staatsorchester in Schubert’s Great C Major Symphony. Soprano Camilla Nylund sings Richard Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder. | Details

Wiener Staatsoper | Wagner’s Die Walküre — 1 p.m. ET. Performance from January 13, 2016. Adam Fischer conducts the production by Sven-Eric Bechtolf, starring Christopher Ventris, Ain Anger, Waltraud Meier, Linda Watson, and Tomasz Konieczny. One-time free registration required. | Details

Met | Mozart’s Don Giovanni Starring Hibla Gerzmava, Malin Byström, Serena Malfi, Paul Appleby, Simon Keenlyside, Adam Plachetka, Matthew Rose, and Kwangchul Youn, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From October 22, 2016. | Details

Tuesday 26

Teatro Massimo di Palermo | Il Crepuscolo dei Sogni (The Twilight of the Dreams) — 2 p.m. ET. Soprano Carmen Giannattasio, baritone Markus Werba, and bass-baritone Alexandros Stavrakakis star in this creation by director Johannes Erath, a site-specific performance for the 2021 opening of the Teatro Massimo season. “Every corner of the opera house becomes part of a wider stage, under a moonlight that transform everything it encounters…a musical “winter journey” with music by Rossini, Verdi, Monteverdi, Schubert, Richard Strauss and many more.” Teatro Massimo’s Musical Director Omer Meir Wellber conducts. | Details

Met | Rossini’s Le Comte Ory Starring Diana Damrau, Joyce DiDonato, Susanne Resmark, Juan Diego Flórez, Stéphane Degout, and Michele Pertusi, conducted by Maurizio Benini. From April 9, 2011. | Details

Wednesday 27

Wigmore Hall | Holocaust Memorial Day Talk — 5 a.m. ET. Many Hungarian Jewish musicians perished in the Holocaust. In this Holocause Memorial Day Talk, musicologist Dr Agnes Kory examines the lives of these musicians in Hungary prior to and after the Hungarian Nazi laws of 1938 and 1939, with musical interludes. Note the livestream is pre-dawn Toronto time, but it’ll be available on demand. | Link

Met | Gounod’s Faust Starring Marina Poplavskaya, Jonas Kaufmann, and René Pape, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. From December 10, 2011. | Details

Thursday 28

Tafelmusik Online Concert Hall | Close Encounters: Divertimento — 8 p.m. ET. Members of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (John Abberger oboe; Christopher Verrette violin; Patrick G. Jordan viola; Margaret Gay violoncello; Pippa Macmillan double bass) perform a program of works by Johann Michael Haydn, Johann Baptist Vanhal, Franz Anton Hoffmeister, and František Adam Míča. Tickets: $20. | Details

Met | Verdi’s Falstaff Starring Lisette Oropesa, Angela Meade, Stephanie Blythe, Jennifer Johnson Cano, Paolo Fanale, Ambrogio Maestri, and Franco Vassallo, conducted by James Levine. From December 14, 2013. | Details

Friday 29

Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall | Kirill Petrenko and Daniil Trifonov — 2 p.m. ET. The centrepiece is Trifonov playing the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 1. Plus a world premiere of Catamorphosis, by Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdóttir, commissioned jointly by the Berlin Phil and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. A third piece is Josef Suk’s tone poem A Summer’s Tale. This is not free but Berlin Phil is worth it! You can purchase a ticket – various options, including free one-week trial. | Details

Met | Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer Starring Anja Kampe, Mihoko Fujimura, Sergey Skorokhodov, David Portillo, Evgeny Nikitin, and Franz-Josef Selig, conducted by Valery Gergiev. From March 10, 2020. | Details

Saturday 30

Met | Verdi’s Rigoletto Starring Diana Damrau, Oksana Volkova, Piotr Beczała, Željko Lučić, and Štefan Kocán, conducted by Michele Mariotti. From February 16, 2013. | Details

Sunday 31

Teatro Massimo di Palermo | Concerto Prokofiev-Stravinsky 2 p.m. ET Livestreaming of a concert with mezzo Vasilisa Berzhanskaya, tenor Giulio Pelligra and bass Alexandros Stavrakakis, in a program of Sergej Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 in D major op. 25, and Igor Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella.” Gabriele Ferro conducts the Teatro Massimo Orchestra. | Details

Met | Verdi’s Macbeth Starring Maria Guleghina, Dimitri Pittas, Željko Lučić, and John Relyea, conducted by James Levine. From January 12, 2008. | Details

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Canadian Opera Company | Key Change Episode 6: Perryn Leech and Alexander Neef (audio podcast) Join co-hosts Robyn Grant-Moran and Julie McIsaac for an interesting chat with the COC’s departing General Director Alexander Neef and the company’s incoming top guy Perryn Leech. Hear their thoughts on opera and music in general, both as a music lover and as an intendant. You can either listen to the show, or if you prefer, download the 16-page transcript of the podcast.

2) WDR Klassik | WDR Symphony Orchestra Recorded live on Jan. 15 at the Kölner Philharmonie and now on demand, Baiba Skride plays Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor. Andris Poga conducts.

3) Wigmore Hall | Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien Streamed on Jan. 19 and available on demand, the violin-piano duo perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Sonata in F; Prokofiev 5 Melodies Op. 35bis; and Franck Sonata in A for violin and piano.

4) The World Human Rights Concert 2020 | Grigory Sokolov To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, this recital, livestreamed on December 12 is now available on demand. It took place in the Human Rights Chamber of the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The great Grigory Sokolov gives a recital of Schumann and Chopin.

5) Gran Teatre del Liceu | 58È Concurs Tenor Viñas: Concert Final This vocal competition took place on the stage of the Liceu on January 24, featuring some terrific young voices of the future: Carmen Artaza, Olga Syniakova, Enrique Alcantara, Vasily Sokolov, My Chuan, Inna Demenkova. Quite an accomplishment to put this on in the middle of a pandemic!

6) Aix en Provence | Tosca Finally, here’s a 2019 Aix-en-Provence Festival Tosca, in a jaw-dropping production by Christophe Honoré. Totally original for sure, with beautiful singing, particularly from Angel Blue as Tosca. But Blue had to share the spotlight with another diva — a Norma Desmond-like former Tosca (Catherine Malfitano) trying to relive her glory. Quite an outrageous premise. Joseph Calleja is Cavaradossi and Alexey Markov is Scarpia. Genius or travesty? You decide.

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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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