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

By Joseph So on March 1, 2021

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

Critic’s Picks (March 1 – 7)

“We live in an extraordinary Age” – Carl Sagan. For a second year, COVID-19 continues to decimate our musical life. Virtually all European opera houses are closed to live audiences, for varying lengths of time, some to Easter and beyond. A few organizations are reopening for limited livestreaming, some even planning ambitious in-person events into the summer. Here are the latest updates:

Despite the high COVID rates in the Czech Republic, the Prague Summer Nights Young Artists Music Festival hopes for the best with an in-person festival (July 5 – Aug 2) with COVID protocols in place. In Austria, the Salzburg Easter Festival (April 2 – 5) is going ahead. It opens April 2 with a Mozart choral concert conducted by Christian Thielemann, starring Golda Schultz, followed by an orchestral concert of Grieg and Beethoven with Thielemann conducting pianist Denis Matsuev. 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.

The Polish National Opera has announced a new program for March and April. It opens with Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet followed by Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with Aleksandra Kurzak, followed by Die Zauberfloete (March 26, 27, 28), Cardillac (April 23, 25, 27, 29), and Werther with Piotr Beczala (April 9 and 11). In Switzerland, the Grand Théâtre de Genève and Theater Basel are closed until March 31, joining Opernhaus Zürich, which is closed until Easter. The Bayerische Staatsoper has cancelled its run of Judith, a concert for orchestra paired with Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle on March 5, 8 & 11, 2021. The performances were supposed to star Nina Stemme and John Lundgren, with Oksana Lyniv conducting the production by Katie Mitchell. Wiener Staatsoper, though closed to a live audience, streamed Carmen on Feb. 21, starring Anita Rachvelishvili as Carmen and Piotr Beczala as Don José, replacing Charles Castronovo who’s recovering from COVID.

The Palau de Les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia, Spain has rescheduled Daniele Gatti’s Verdi Requiem 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. Opéra de Monte-Carlo has announced the cancellation of a recital on Feb. 24 by Sir Bryn Terfel due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions.

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 and with the proper precautions. Let’s hope they are right! 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. It has just announced it will stream a Tosca with Malin Byström available all March.

Opéra National de Paris has cancelled all performances until April 5. One of the last things before shutting down was the livestreaming of a radical Regieoper Aida on Feb. 18 with Sondra Radvanovsky and Jonas Kaufmann, now available on YouTube. The Opéra Comique in Paris has cancelled its upcoming La Belle Hélène in March starring Canadian mezzo Marie–Nicole Lemieux. La Monnaie in Brussels is closed in February but will stream an all-Mozart program. Toulouse’s Théâtre du Capitole will remain closed into March, cancelling the scheduled Pelléas et Mélisande.

On this side of the pond, the Met’s nightly free streaming continues with “Celebrating Women’s History Month,” with operas featuring megastars Mirella Freni, Beverly Sills, Marilyn Horne, Jessye Norman, and Renee Fleming. All Met nightly streams start at 7:30 p.m. ET and remain available for 23 hours. Other interesting videos on demand: Sondra and Keri of the Screaming Divas chat with David Walker, the General Director of Palm Beach Opera, about its producing opera with a live audience during the pandemic. Brott Opera’s Don Giovanni at Home from last June is back for the month of March. Finally, Against the Grain Theatre’s Joel Ivany in conversation with the great Canadian baritone Gerald Finley.

Monday 1

Wiener Staatsoper | Bizet’s Carmen — 1 p.m. ET. Andrés Orozco-Estrada conducts the Calixto Bieito production starring Anita Rachvelishvili, Piotr Beczala, Erwin Schrott, and Vera-Lotte Boecker From Feb. 21, 2021. | Details

Met | Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. Starring Beverly Sills, Alfredo Kraus, Håkan Hagegård, and Gabriel Bacquier, conducted by Nicola Rescigno. Production by John Dexter. From January 11, 1979. | Details

Tuesday 2

Wiener Staatsoper | Verdi’s Otello — 1 p.m. ET. Graeme Jenkins conducts the Christine Mielitz production, starring Roberto Alagna, Aleksandra Kurzak, Dalibor Jenis, Antonio Poli From March 18, 2018. | Details

Met | Verdi’s Falstaff. Starring Mirella Freni, Barbara Bonney, Marilyn Horne, Susan Graham, Paul Plishka, Frank Lopardo, and Bruno Pola, conducted by James Levine. Production by Franco Zeffirelli. From October 10, 1992. | Details

Wednesday 3

Wiener Staatsoper | Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos — 1 p.m. ET. Christian Thielemann conducts the Sven-Eric Bechtolf production starring Johan Botha, Soile Isokoski, Sophie Koch, Daniela Fally, and Jochen Schmeckenbecher. From Oct. 23, 2014. | Details

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

Thursday 4

Wiener Staatsoper | Massenet’s Manon — 1 p.m. ET. Frédéric Chaslin conducts the Andrei Serban production starring Nino Machaidze, Juan Diego Flórez, and Adrian Eröd. From June 9, 2019. | Details

Wigmore Hall | Kirill Gerstein — 2:30 p.m. ET. Berlin-based, Russian-American pianist Kirill Gerstein plays a program of works by Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, and Schubert. | Details

Met | Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Starring Golda Schultz, Kathryn Lewek, Charles Castronovo, Markus Werba, Christian Van Horn, and René Pape, conducted by James Levine. Production by Julie Taymor. From October 14, 2017. | Details

Friday 5

Wiener Staatsoper | Janácek’s Katja Kabanova — 1 p.m. ET. Tomáš Netopil conducts the André Engel production starring Angela Denoke, Misha Didyk, Jane Henschel, and Dan Paul Dumitrscu. From April 27, 2017. | Details

Minnesota Orchestra | Soaring Strings — 9 p.m. ET. Livestream of concert conducted by guest maestro Juraj Valčuha, with Canadian violinist James Ehnes, playing Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2, paired with Mendelssohn Symphony No. 4. | Details

Met | Britten’s Peter Grimes. Starring Patricia Racette, Anthony Dean Griffey, and Anthony Michaels-Moore, conducted by Sir Donald Runnicles. Production by John Doyle. From March 15, 2008. | Details

Saturday 6

Wiener Staatsoper | Verdi’s Aida — 1 p.m. ET. Marco Armiliato conducts this Verdi gem in the Nicolas Joel production starring Elena Guseva, Gregory Kunde, Ekaterina Gubanova, and Simone Piazzola From June 29, 2019. | Details

Tapestry Opera | Our Song D’Hiver — 8 p.m. ET. Soprano Mireille Asselin and pianist Frédéric Lacroix perform “works from the Francophone world in this delightful bilingual fusion of recital and ‘kitchen concert’”. Joining them are Acadian guitarist Maxim Cormier, Métis composer Ian Cusson, and Franco-Ontarian composer Marie-Claire Saindon. | Details

Met | Dvořák’s Rusalka. Starring Renée Fleming, Emily Magee, Dolora Zajick, Piotr Beczała, and John Relyea, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Production by Otto Schenk. From February 8, 2014. | Details

Sunday 7

Wiener Staatsoper | Verdi’s La Traviata (Live!) — 12 p.m. ET. Giacomo Sagripanti conducts the Simon Stone production starring Pretty Yende, Juan Diego Flórez, Igor Golovatenko, and Margaret Plummer. | Details

Confluence Concerts | John Beckwith Songbook — 2/5/8 p.m. ET. Canadian composer John Beckwith turns 94, and here’s a “marathon event at which a great majority of his song catalogue — spanning from 1947 to 2021 — will be sung by students, professionals, friends and colleagues. A co-production with the University of Toronto and the Canadian Art Song Project.” | Details

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

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Against the Grain Theatre | From the Director’s Chair: Gerald Finley AtG’s Joel Ivany chats with the great, UK-based Canadian baritone Gerald Finley about his career and his thoughts on the musical profession facing the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

2) Komische Oper Berlin | Die Tote Stadt A performance from September 2018 and now on demand. Production by Canadian director Robert Carsen and designer Michael Levine, starring Aleš Briscein (Paul), Sara Jakubiak (Marie/Marietta), and Günter Papendell (Frank/Fritz). Ainārs Rubiķis conducts.

3) Screaming Divas with Sondra and Keri | David Walker With the pandemic raging away, few opera companies dare to present anything with a live audience, except the Palm Beach Opera’s 2021 Festival (Feb. 19 – 27) presenting La bohème, Die Zauberflöte, and Pagliacci. Sondra and Keri chat with David Walker, General Director of PBO, about how he and his team did it.

4) Brott Opera | Don Giovanni at Home This performance, originally aired last July, is brought back for the month of March. All artists perform at home. Phillip Addis (Don Giovanni), Simon Chalifoux (Leporello), Stephanie DeCiantis (Donna Elvira), Shantelle Przybylo (Donna Anna), River Guard (Don Ottavio), Marie-Andrée Mathieu (Zerlina), Jamal al-Titi (Massetto), and John Fanning (Commendatore). | Details

5) Tafelmusik | Musik In Motion This new video series features visual artists interpreting baroque music. The inaugural segment features painter Darby Milbrath, painting while listening to a Tafelmusik recording of Vivaldi. Segments will premiere once a month, with forthcoming episodes featuring visual artist Alex McLeod, Tafelmusik cellist Keiran Campbell, and others. Read more about it here.

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Joseph So
Joseph So
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