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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical And Opera Streams You Absolutely Need To See This Week: February 8–14

By Joseph So on February 8, 2021

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of February 8 – 14.
Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of February 8 – 14.

Critic’s Picks (February 8 – 14)

“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 cancelled concerts in January by Juan Diego Flórez and Jonas Kaufmann. Virtually all German opera houses are closed for varying lengths of time, some until Easter. The Palau de Les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia, Spain announced that Daniele Gatti’s Verdi Requiem is rescheduled to July 1 and the upcoming Tristan und Isolde will be replaced by Falstaff, due to the large orchestra and chorus requirements for Wagner. 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! In Switzerland, 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 Ariadne auf Naxos on March 27.

Here’s the latest courtesy of Opera Wire: Wiener Staatsoper has postponed its Le nozze di Figaro (Feb. 1) and the premiere of Carmen (Feb. 7) to later dates (not yet announced.) Opéra National de Paris has cancelled its concert of Il Trovatore at the Opéra de Bastille, as well as chamber concerts (Feb. 11-25) at the Studio and Amphithéâtre Bastille. Additionally, the ballet program scheduled for February at the Palais Garnier and the Academy concert (Feb. 17) are cancelled. La Monnaie in Brussels announced that it will remain closed in February and will stream an all-Mozart program. Toulouse’s Théâtre du Capitole will remain closed into March, cancelling the scheduled Pelléas et Mélisande.

A bit of good news — the Salzburg Easter Festival is going ahead with modifications. It opens April 2 with a Mozart choral concert conducted by Christian Thielemann, starring Golda Schultz and others. An orchestral concert of Grieg and Beethoven with Thielemann conducting pianist Denis Matsuev follows on April 3. Hilary Hahn headlines an orchestral concert of Mozart and Schumann conducted by Antonio Pappano (April 4). The festival ends on April 5 with a Gala Concert featuring Anna Netrebko, Golda Schultz and Yusif Eyvazov, performing excerpts from Turandot, conducted by Thielemann. Meanwhile, the peripatetic Netrebko returns to the Mariinsky Theatre on February 10 to sing Tatiana in Eugene Onegin, opposite Alexey Markov and Mikhail Petrenko, conducted by Valery Gergiev.

The Russian diva has been the subject of some controversy lately, having appeared a few days ago in a video chat with Met General Manager Peter Gelb that drew the ire of the Met orchestra musicians who have not been paid since last April. The musicians responded by announcing a virtual concert (Feb. 21) with Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu, who has been supportive of the Met musicians. She sings “Song to the Moon” from Rusalka in a new arrangement for soprano and bass quintet, as well as “Our Father” by Anton Pann. She’ll engage in a live chat at the end of the event. The musicians will also perform Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 2 in G major, Op. 77.

On this side of the pond, the Met’s nightly free streams continues its celebration of Black History Month for a second week, featuring African American singers Eric Owens, Leona Mitchell, Jessye Norman, Kathleen Battle, Harolyn Blackwell, Florence Quivar, and J’Nai Bridges. All Met nightly streams start at 7:30 p.m. ET and are available for 23 hours. Opera Naples — that’s Florida, not Italy — is going ahead with its in-house (!) Under the Stars Festival, featuring a recital (Mar. 10) with tenor Joseph Calleja as well as a production of La Traviata (Mar. 11, 13). Also scheduled is a concert West Side Story (Mar. 12) starring Isabel Leonard as Maria and Alex McKissick as Tony.

Here are some interesting Video-On-Demand shows this week. American soprano Angel Blue, in her YouTube channel Faithful Friday, interviews tenor Lawrence Brownlee. Last week, I recommended tenor Isaiah Bell in his gender-bending adaptation of Poulenc’s La voix humaine. This week it’s soprano Miriam Khalil singing the same piece, unchanged, for Opera In Concert. Musicians of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra are offering performances on demand. Some of these shows require the purchase of a ticket. If you are able, show your support by purchasing a ticket in this very difficult time for the performing arts.

Monday 8

Bayerische Staatsoper | Montagsstucke: Dairy of One Who Disappeared — 2:15 p.m. ET. Tenor Pavol Breslik sings Janácek’s song cycle as staged by Friederike Blum. The text tells the story of a young man who falls in love with a gypsy girl Zefka, and he decides to leave his family to be with her. An evocative work not often performed in Canada, however tenor Colin Ainsworth gave a powerful performance several years ago in Toronto. Breslik is accompanied by pianist Robert Pechanec. Free livestream. | Details

Wiener Staatsoper | The Nutcracker — 1 p.m. ET. Performance from October 7, 2012, the Nureyev-choreographed production starring Liudmila Konovalova, Vladimir Shishov, and the Corps des ballet of the Vienna State Ballet | Details

University of Toronto Faculty of Music | U of T Festival of Song Presents Songs of Hope and Comfort — 5 p.m. ET. A collection of performances from U of T’s Voice and Collaborative Piano Students under the guidance of John R. Stratton Visitor in Music, Steven Blier. The concert will be livestreamed, with a link available at closer to the start of the event. | Details

Met | Wagner’s Das Rheingold. Starring Wendy Bryn Harmer, Stephanie Blythe, Patricia Bardon, Richard Croft, Gerhard Siegel, Dwayne Croft, Bryn Terfel, Eric Owens, Franz-Josef Selig, and Hans-Peter König, conducted by James Levine. Production by Robert Lepage. From October 9, 2010. | Details

Tuesday 9

Wiener Staatsoper | Don Giovanni — 1 p.m. ET. Performance from November 1, 2015, Adam Fischer conducts, starring Mariusz Kwiecien, Erwin Schrott, Marina Rebeka, Juliane Banse, and Benjamin Bruns. | Details

Met | Verdi’s Ernani. Starring Leona Mitchell, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes, and Ruggero Raimondi, conducted by James Levine. Production by Pier Luigi Samaritani. From December 17, 1983. | Details

Wednesday 10

Wiener Staatsoper | La Clemenza di Tito — 1 p.m. ET. Performance from April 4, 2016, Adam Fischer conducts, starring Benjamin Bruns, Caroline Wenborne, Margarita Gritskova, Hila Fahima, and Miriam Albano. | Details

Met | Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Starring Kathleen Battle, Rockwell Blake, Leo Nucci, Enzo Dara, and Ferruccio Furlanetto, conducted by Ralf Weikert. Production by John Cox. From December 3, 1988. | Details

Thursday 11

Wiener Staatsoper | Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro — 1 p.m. ET. Performance from February 4, 2021. Philippe Jordan conducts, starring Andrè Schuen, Federica Lombardi, Philippe Sly, Louise Alder, and Virginie Verrez. | Details

Met | Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera. Starring Aprile Millo, Harolyn Blackwell, Florence Quivar, Luciano Pavarotti, and Leo Nucci, conducted by James Levine. Production by Piero Faggioni. From January 26, 1991. | Details

Friday 12

Wiener Staatsoper | Mozart’s The Magic Flute — 1 p.m. ET. Performance from January 4, 2015. Adam Fischer conducts, starring Benjamin Bruns, Olga Bezsmertna, Íride Martínez, Markus Werba, and Annika Gerhards. | Details

Toronto Wagner Society | Interview of Michael Volle — 11 a.m. ET. Calling all Wagner lovers — Michael Volle, one of the great Wotan’s of our time, joins the Toronto Wagner Society for a Zoom chat. Normally this event is limited to only members of the TWS, but this time, members of Wagner Societies in the US and the UK are invited, and this invitation is being extended to the general public at no charge. Those interested can email the Toronto Wagner Society closer to the date for the Zoom link.

Glenn Gould School/Royal Conservatory | Rebanks Family Fellowship Concert — 7:30 p.m. ET. In this free livestream, artists of the GGS-RCM Rebanks Fellowship program perform a varied program of works by Handel, Bach, Liszt, Ravel, Mussorgsky and others. | Details

Met | Philip Glass’s Akhnaten. Starring Dísella Lárusdóttir, J’Nai Bridges, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Aaron Blake, Will Liverman, Richard Bernstein, and Zachary James, conducted by Karen Kamensek. Production by Phelim McDermott. From November 23, 2019. | Details

Saturday 13

Wiener Staatsoper | Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio — 1 p.m. ET. Performance from October 12, 2020. Antonello Manacorda conducts the Hans Neuenfels production, starring Lisette Oropesa, Christian Nickel, Regula Mühlemann, Emanuela von Frankenberg, Stella Roberts, Daniel Behle, and others. | Details

Met | Berlioz’s Les Troyens. Starring Tatiana Troyanos, Jessye Norman, Plácido Domingo, and Allan Monk, conducted by James Levine. Production by Fabrizio Melano. From October 8, 1983. | Details

Sunday 14

Met | Wagner’s Die Walküre. Starring Hildegard Behrens, Jessye Norman, Christa Ludwig, Gary Lakes, James Morris, and Kurt Moll, conducted by James Levine. Production by Otto Schenk. From April 8, 1989. | Details

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Toronto Symphony Orchestra | TSO On Demand. Available starting Feb. 12, musicians of the TSO led by concertmaster Jonathan Crow perform the Beethoven Septet; Schubert: String Trio in B-flat Major, D. 471 (First Movement); and a TSO commission — Emilie LeBel: Haareis auf Morschem Holz (Hair Ice On Rotten Wood). Tickets $20. | Details

2) Faithful Friday with Angel Blue | Lawrence Brownlee. American soprano Angel Blue interviews “King of the High C” Lawrence Brownlee, about life during the pandemic, his career, and his work as a social activist.

3) Opera In Concert | Francis Poulenc/Jean Cocteau: The Human Voice (Play & Opera). Available Feb. 5 to 12. Ticket: $20. A double-bill presentation – a monodrama by Jean Cocteau, The Voice, in English, featuring Chilina Kennedy, followed by a forty-minute, one-act opera by Francis Poulenc, La voix humaine, in French with English subtitles, featuring Miriam Khalil. Narmina Afandiyeva is the pianist. | Details

4) Oslo Philharmonic | Erich Wolfgang Korngold Violin Concerto. Premiered on Jan 21 and now on demand, violinist Guro Kleven Hagen and conductor Vasily Petrenko perform Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D major.

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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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