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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical And Opera Streams You Absolutely Need To See This Week: March 15 – 21

By Joseph So on March 15, 2021

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of March 15 – 21.
Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of March 15 – 21.

Critic’s Picks (March 15 – 21)

“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. Italy, faced with a possible third wave, will be in full lockdown over Easter. L’Opéra Grand Avignon will stay closed until the beginning of the new 2021-22 season in the fall. Others are reopening for limited livestreaming, a few even planning ambitious in-person events in the summer. The situation is fluid and frankly confusing.

Despite the extremely 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). 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. UPDATE: It has just been announced on March 15 that the Salzburg Easter Festival is now postponed to the weekend of All Saints Week in Nov. 2021.Program details will be announced in May.

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. However, it has just announced a livestream of a new production of Der Rosenkavalier on March 21. The news at La Scala is not good — there has been an outbreak of COVID cases in the Corps de Ballet, with 35 dancers and 3 staff members tested positive. The planned recording of the Tribute to Nureyev has been suspended.

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.

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 throughout March.

Opéra National de Paris has cancelled all live 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. It will however stream Faust from the Opéra Bastille on March 26, accessible on France 5, and will then be made available on Culturebox for six months. 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. Opéra de Rouen Normandie has cancelled all performances in March.

On this side of the pond, there are tentative signs of a resumption. Houston Grand Opera will present My Favorite Things: Songs from The Sound of Music on May 8, a singalong and fundraiser featuring members of the principal cast from the full production. The Merola Opera Program will present a virtual charity gala, scheduled on April 10. Un Gala In Maschera is a tribute to Merola’s artistic director, Sheri Greenawald. San Francisco Opera is streaming its Ring Cycle throughout March. Now in its 53rd week, the Met’s nightly free streaming continues with Viewers’ Choice. All Met streams start at 7:30 p.m. ET and remain available for 23 hours. Lots of interesting Canadian shows, from the National Ballet, Pacific Opera Victoria, Toronto Operetta Theatre, and a masterclass from University of Toronto.

Monday 15

Met | Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Starring Anna Netrebko, Kathleen Kim, Ekaterina Gubanova, Kate Lindsey, Joseph Calleja, and Alan Held, conducted by James Levine. Production by Bartlett Sher. From December 19, 2009. | Details

Tuesday 16

Met | Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West. Starring Eva-Maria Westbroek, Jonas Kaufmann, and Željko Lučić, conducted by Marco Armiliato. Production by Giancarlo Del Monaco. From October 27, 2018. | Details

Wednesday 17

Met | Donizetti’s Anna Bolena. Starring Anna Netrebko, Ekaterina Gubanova, Tamara Mumford, Stephen Costello, and Ildar Abdrazakov, conducted by Marco Armiliato. Production by Sir David McVicar. From October 15, 2011. | Details

Thursday 18

University of Toronto Faculty of Music | Joyce El-Khoury Masterclass — 3 p.m. ET. Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury is having a fabulous international career, particularly acclaimed in the bel canto repertoire. She’s the master teacher this year, in the Riki Turofsky Master Class in Voice at the U of T. Not to be missed. | 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

Friday 19

Toronto Operetta Theatre | The Gondoliers. TOT is trying something new, a dinner and a show – to be enjoyed at home! An original production of The Gondoliers conceived for online viewing. On March 19 and 20, watch the show (ticket: $20) and enjoy a takeout dinner from Chabrol Restaurant ($35 per person). The show will be available on demand until 5 April. Cast includes TOT regulars Tonatiuh Abrego, Bradley Christensen, Daniela Agostino, Stephanie O’Leary, Elizabeth Beeler, Gregory Finney, and others. Pianist Narmina Afandiyeva, accordionist Matti Pulkki, conductor Derek Bate, and stage director Guillermo Silva-Marin. | Details

Met | Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Starring Joyce DiDonato, Juan Diego Flórez, Peter Mattei, John Del Carlo, and John Relyea, conducted by Maurizio Benini. Production by Bartlett Sher. From March 24, 2007. | Details

Saturday 20

San Francisco Opera | Wagner’s Siegfried — 1 p.m. ET. SFO’s March Ring Festival continues with Siegfried, in the Francesca Zambello production, with a stellar cast. Free stream, available until 11:59 p.m. Pacific time Sunday. Registration required. | Details

Met | Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Starring Renée Fleming, Ramón Vargas, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Valery Gergiev. Production by Robert Carsen. From February 24, 2007. | Details

Sinfonia Toronto | Inspiration — 8 p.m. ET. Sinfonia Toronto’s concert features inspirational music, such as Mozart’s Serenade K, 525, “Eine kleine Nachtmusik,” and conductor Nurhan Arman’s orchestral arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No. 3. Ticket is $15 and the concert will be available online for four weeks. | Details

Sunday 21

Bayerische Staatsoper | Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier — 9 a.m. ET. A big deal for Strauss fans, especially if you love the magnificent, traditional, 50-year-old Jurgen Rose-Otto Schenk production that has delighted Munich audiences all these years. This new one is directed by enfant terrible Barry Kosky, starring Marlis Petersen, a former Sophie, as the Marschallin. Vladimir Jurowski conducts. You can be sure it will be totally different stylistically. Not to be missed, but if 9:30 am is too early for you, it will be available on demand from March 23rd on for thirty days. | Details

Met | Handel’s Agrippina. Starring Brenda Rae, Joyce DiDonato, Kate Lindsey, Iestyn Davies, Duncan Rock, and Matthew Rose, conducted by Harry Bicket. Production by Sir David McVicar. From February 29, 2020. | Details

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Pacific Opera Victoria Two Sopranos, One Friendship. Premiered March 12 and available for one month, this delightful show stars Aviva Fortunata and Claire de Sevigne, two sopranos who are also great friends. It’s a mix of opera duets, including Mira o Norma, and storytelling. It ends with the lovely Ivor Novello “We’ll gather lilacs” A feel good show. | Details

2) National Ballet of Canada Spotlight Series. Like other companies, the National is dark right now. But it is generously offering free streams of its many gems, which you can explore here. Of particular interest are these three contemporary pieces, superbly choreographed and danced – Piano Concerto #1, Petite Morte, and Chroma.

3) Wigmore Hall | Steven Osborne 50th Birthday Concert. Streamed on March 12 and now on demand, Scottish pianist Steven Osborne celebrates his Big 5-0 at Wigmore, joined by several wonderful artists, including fellow pianist Paul Lewis, and soprano Ailish Tynan, who sang a superb Der Hirt auf den Felsen.

4) Cliburn Masterpiece | Gaspard de la unit. A new episode of the Cliburn Masterpiece series, an exploration of Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit with Canadian pianist and composer Marc-André Hamelin and 2009 Cliburn Gold Medalist Haochen Zhang.

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Joseph So
Joseph So
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