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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical And Opera Streams You Absolutely Need To See This Week: February 1 – 7

By Joseph So on February 1, 2021

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of February 1 – 7.
Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of February 1 – 7.

Critic’s Picks (February 1 – 7)

“We live in an extraordinary Age” — Carl Sagan. COVID-19 continues to decimate our musical life, with a depressing start to 2021. Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège canceled concerts by Juan Diego Flórez and Jonas Kaufmann due to pandemic measures by the government of Belgium. Opera houses in Darmstadt, Kassel, Wiesbaden, Marburg, Gießen, Staatsoper Hannover, Deutsches Nationaltheater and Staatskapelle Weimar, Oper Frankfurt, Semperoper Dresden, and National-theater Mannheim, Deutsche Oper Am Rhein, Finnish National Opera — all closed for various lengths of time, and some won’t reopen until Easter. The Palau de Les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia, Spain announced that Daniele Gatti’s Verdi Requiem is postponed to July 1 and the upcoming Tristan und Isolde will be replaced by Falstaff, due to the large orchestra and chorus requirements for the Wagner opera. Falstaff, originally scheduled for February, will now be presented on March 2, 7, 11, and 14.

Interestingly, a new study by Fraunhofer Heinrich Institute & Konzerthaus Dortmund has concluded that concert halls and theatres are safe when attendance is kept to 50% of capacity. Let’s hope they are right! Opernhaus Zürich, Grand Théâtre de Genève, and Theater Basel are closed until at least Feb. 28. The Italian government has declared a State of Emergency to last until April 30. The Royal Swedish Opera has extended its closure until at least March 26. If the pandemic situation allows, the opera house will reopen for the premiere of Richard Strauss’ opera Ariadne auf Naxos on March 27.

The Met Opera’s nightly free streaming celebrates Black History Month by featuring performances given by many of the great African American singers, the likes of Leontyne Price, Jessye Norman, and Kathleen Battle. All Met nightly streams start at 7:30 p.m. ET and available for 23 hours. San Francisco Opera announced its screenings of Tosca originally from 2009 starring Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka at the Fort Mason Flix Drive-In. Originally schedule for December, it is now scheduled for Feb. 12 and 13. The opera will be screened twice a day at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., allowing for 98 cars per show, parked six feet apart. Masked required for anyone over 2 years old while outside the vehicle. However, going out is not encouraged except to use the facilities.

An interesting and unusual lineup of Video-On-Demand this week. Tenor David Webb gives an intensely personal take in Winter Journey, highlighting the importance of mental healthcare. Remember Canadian soprano Ambur Braid? She’s now a Fest artist at Oper Frankfurt, here singing arias and duets from Butterfly and Tosca. I am intrigued by a new documentary from the von Karajan Institute called Two Geniuses: Karajan and Mozart. Comparing the conductor with Mozart — brilliant or chutzpah? You decide. And don’t miss Canadian tenor Isaiah Bell in The Human Voice, a gender-bending twist of La voix humaine and a fresh take on this classic work, updated to our time.

Monday 1

Wigmore Hall | Cédric Tiberghien — 2:30 p.m. ET. A regular at Wigmore, the French pianist returns to play a program of Robert Schumann, Beethoven, and Webern. | Details

Bayerische Staatsoper | Montagsstucke XII — 2:15 p.m. ET. The young dancers from the Bayerisches Junior Ballett Munich perform a triple bill, including a world premiere of Unsterbliche Geliebte by Austrian choreographer Jörg Mannes, set to Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58, and Martina La Ragione’s UnHeaven, set to music by Carl Orff. | Details

Wiener Staatsoper | Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro — 9:30 a.m. ET (Live Stream). This is the venerable production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, starring Andrè Schuen, Federica Lombardi, Louise Alder, Philippe Sly, and Virginie Verrez. Philippe Jordan conducts. Free but one-time registration required. | Details

Met | Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. Starring Angel Blue, Golda Schultz, Latonia Moore, Denyce Graves, Frederick Ballentine, Eric Owens, Alfred Walker, and Donovan Singletary, conducted by David Robertson. Production by James Robinson. From February 1, 2020. | Details

Tuesday 2

Met | Verdi’s La Forza del Destino. Starring Leontyne Price, Isola Jones, Giuseppe Giacomini, Leo Nucci, and Bonaldo Giaiotti, conducted by James Levine. Production by John Dexter. From March 24, 1984. One of the last performances of Price before retirement. | Details

Wednesday 3

Met | Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites. Starring Maria Ewing, Jessye Norman, Betsy Norden, Régine Crespin, and Florence Quivar, conducted by Manuel Rosenthal. An inspired production by John Dexter, done on a very low budget in the mid ‘70s, and it remains one of the Met’s most acclaimed. From April 4, 1987. | Details

Thursday 4

Met | Rossini’s La Cenerentola. Starring Elina Garanča, Lawrence Brownlee, Simone Alberghini, Alessandro Corbelli, and John Relyea, conducted by Maurizio Benini. Production by Cesare Lievi. From May 9, 2009. | Details

Friday 5

Met | Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Starring Carol Vaness, Kathleen Battle, Frederica von Stade, Thomas Allen, and Ruggero Raimondi, conducted by James Levine. Production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. From December 14, 1985. | Details

Saturday 6

San Francisco Opera | Wagner’s Lohengrin — 7 a.m. ET. Tenor Brandon Jovanovich (Lohengrin), soprano Camilla Nylund (Elsa), mezzo Petra Lang (Ortrud), bass-baritone Gerd Grochowski (Telramund). Nicola Luisotti conducts. Available until 11:59 p.m. the next day. Free registration required here. | Details

Met Stars Live in Concert | Anna Netrebko — 1 p.m. ET. The Russian soprano performs live from the historic Spanish Riding School in Vienna, singing songs by Rachmaninoff, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Dvořák, Fauré and Strauss, with pianist Pavel Nebolsin. Netrebko is joined by mezzo Elena Maximova for duets from Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Queen of Spades. Available on demand for 14 days. Tickets $20 USD | Details

Met | Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. Starring Jessye Norman, Kathleen Battle, Tatiana Troyanos, and James King, conducted by James Levine. Production by Bodo Igesz. From March 12, 1988. | Details

Sunday 7

Met | Puccini’s Tosca. Starring Shirley Verrett, Luciano Pavarotti, and Cornell MacNeil, conducted by James Conlon. Directed by Tito Gobbi. From December 19, 1978. | Details

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Oper Frankfurt | Bühne frei! Streamed Jan. 29, Canadian soprano Ambur Braid, a Fest artist at Oper Frankfurt, is joined by tenor A J Glueckert, mezzo Karolina Makula, and baritone Liviu Holender, in a recital of arias and duets from opera by Donizetti, Puccini, and Lehár. Pianist is In Sun Suh.

2) NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester Hamburg | Dvořák & Mahler. Streamed Dec. 18 and now on demand, cellist Gautier Capuçon plays Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor. This is followed by Alan Gilbert conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with soprano Anna Prohaska.

3) Wigmore Hall | Tenor David Webb’s ‘Winter Journey’. Streamed Jan. 29, this concert is “the culmination of David Webb’s personal ‘Winter Journey’, a 500-mile cycle ride over 12 days in the darkest month of the year to raise funds for mental health charities MIND and Music Minds Matter (Help Musicians UK).” Webb speaks of his personal battle with mental illness. Winterreise “delves deep into humankind’s propensity to feel, our emotional turmoil, grief, loss, depression and suicide with some of the most hauntingly beautiful music written.” Webb is joined by tenors Alessandro Fisher and Rupert Charlesworth, and baritone Benedict Nelson. Iain Burnside is at the piano.

4) Eliette and Herbert von Karajan Institute | Two Geniuses: Karajan & Mozart. A new documentary from the Karajan Institute compares the conductor and the composer – “both born and raised in Salzburg, both musical geniuses.” This documentary tries to uncover the similarities and differences between the two. Many artists interviewed, including Francisco Araiza, Paata Burchuladze, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Janet Perry, Anna Tomowa-Sintow, and Rolando Villazon. Is the comparison well considered or chutzpah? You decide.

5) Oslo Philharmonic | Sergei Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2. Streamed on Jan. 22 and now on demand, Norwegian pianist Håvard Gimse plays Rach 2, arguably the most beloved of all compositions by the Russian composer, conducted by Vasily Petrenko.

6) Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra | Wintermezzo: Lise Davidsen. This concert features the magnificent voice of Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen, in a program of Sibelius Songs. Edward Garner conducts the Bergen Philharmonic. Also on the program is Sibelius Symphony No. 11. From Jan. 26 and now on demand. | Details

7) City Opera Vancouver | The Human Voice: Isaiah Bell. Critic’s Picks ends this week with something unusual, the work of a fine singer who is also a creative artist, tenor Isaiah Bell. He has written four(!) short operas, plus a one-man show, The Book of My Shames, which had a Toronto run two years ago. The Human Voice is his latest work, a gender-bending adaptation of Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine, with a new libretto by the tenor. | 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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