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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical And Opera Streams You Absolutely Need To See This Week: March 29 – April 4)

By Joseph So on March 29, 2021

 Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of March 29 – April 4.
Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of March 29 – April 4.

Critic’s Picks (March 29 – April 4)

“We live in an extraordinary Age” – Carl Sagan. For a second year, COVID-19 continues to decimate our musical life. With the onset of the dreaded Third Wave led by new variants, any plan to reopen has proven challenging. Nearly all European venues are closed to live audiences. France has just announced a new lockdown for Paris. Italy and Germany are in full lockdown mode. Austria’s Salzburg Easter Festival is postponed to coincide with All Saint’s Day on November 1, with revised program to be announced in May. In other words, the situation is unpredictable due to the ever-changing pandemic developments.

At press time, the Prague Summer Nights Young Artists Music Festival is going ahead for an in-person festival (July 5-Aug 2), despite the Czech Republic having the highest cases per million population of any country in the world. Due to government decree, the Polish National Opera has cancelled all performances until April 9, affecting the previously announced Die Zauberflöte (March 26, 27, 28), and Werther with Piotr Beczala (April 9 and 11). Bayerische Staatsoper München streamed its new Der Rosenkavalier on March 21 but cancelled the performance on April 3, as well as performances of La Traviata (April 9, 11, 15).

La Scala’s COVID outbreak in the Corps de Ballet, where 35 dancers and 3 staff members tested positive, led to a delay of the recording of the Tribute to Nureyev Gala. It finally happened on March 28. La Scala did livestream an opera concert on March 24 starring Francesco Meli and Maria Agresta. 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. Spain is literally alone in Europe performing for live audiences, with Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu scheduled to stage Otello for an audience of 1,000. Their decision is perhaps bolstered by a new study by Fraunhofer Heinrich Institute & Konzerthaus Dortmund, which 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 Royal Swedish Opera has cancelled all shows with a live audience into June, meaning for the rest of the 2020-21 season. France has just announced a new lockdown for the next four weeks. The Opéra National de Paris has cancelled all performances up to May 2, given the lockdown in Paris. It streamed Faust from the Opéra Bastille on March 26, accessible on France 5, made available on Culturebox for six months. The Opéra Comique cancelled La Belle Hélène in March starring Canadian mezzo Marie–Nicole Lemieux. Toulouse’s Théâtre du Capitole remains closed, cancelling the scheduled Pelléas et Mélisande. Opéra de Rouen Normandie has cancelled all performances in March. The Theater an der Wien, Vienna’s third opera house, is closed until further notice.

On this side of the pond, there’re modest activities. After its Ring festival, San Francisco Opera is streaming Don Pasquale (April 3-4), The Fall of the House of Usher (April 10-11), and Don Carlo (April 17-18), this last with Michael Fabiano. LA Opera is launching a Signature Recital Series online, to showcase singers the likes of Russell Thomas, J’Nai Bridges, Christine Goerke, Julia Bullock, and Susan Graham, in venues across the country and in Europe, available on-demand. 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.

Now in its 55th week, the Met’s nightly free streaming continues with “Love Triangles,” starring great singers the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and Renee Fleming. All Met streams start at 7:30 p.m. ET and remain available for 23 hours. Canadians this week in the Met streams include soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, tenor Joseph Kaiser, and baritone Russell Braun. Watch for TSO Live Streams starting March 31 to June, with one or two concerts per month on a pay-to-view basis. The Screaming Divas chat with American bass-baritone Christian Van Horn. Esprit Orchestra brings back a comic mini-opera Toothpaste starring Barbara Hannigan. Also don’t miss the Strauss bon-bon of Frühlingsstimmen, played by the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Riccardo Muti, on the 2021 New Year’s Concert from the Musikverein.

Monday 29

Met | Bellini’s Norma. Starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Joyce DiDonato, Joseph Calleja, and Matthew Rose, conducted by Carlo Rizzi. Production by Sir David McVicar. From October 7, 2017. This performance stars the great Norma of our time, Sondra Radvanovsky. She’s well supported by the wonderful DiDonato as Adalgisa. Not-to-be-missed. | Details

Tuesday 30

Met | Strauss’s Capriccio. Starring Renée Fleming, Sarah Connolly, Joseph Kaiser, Russell Braun, Morten Frank Larsen, and Peter Rose, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. Production by John Cox. From April 23, 2011. A connoisseur’s piece, this is Strauss’s last opera, a meditation on the enduring powers of both word and music. | Details

Wednesday 31

Toronto Symphony Orchestra LiveStreams | All Mozart Program — 7:30 p.m. ET. TSO kicks off its new livestreaming series with a Mozart concert conducted by Simon Rivard, featuring the overture to La finta giardiniera, Violin Concerto No. 3 (soloist Zeyu Victor Li), and Symphony No. 40. Tickets $50, $20, and $10. Stream available for seven days. | Details

Met | Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux. Starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Elīna Garanča, Matthew Polenzani, and Mariusz Kwiecień, conducted by Maurizio Benini. Production by Sir David McVicar. From April 16, 2016. | Details

Thursday 1

Deutsche Oper Berlin | Wagner’s Rienzi — 9:00 a.m. ET. This is a rarity, early Wagner where he doesn’t sound like himself! I saw this very production in Berlin, and to my ears it’s more Italian than anything. It stars Torsten Kerl and Camilla Nylund. If 9 am is too early for Wagner, it’s available on demand until April 4. | Details

Met | Verdi’s Il Trovatore. Starring Eva Marton, Dolora Zajick, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes, and Jeffrey Wells, conducted by James Levine. Production by Fabrizio Melano. From October 15, 1988. | Details

Friday 2

Met | Massenet’s Werther. Starring Lisette Oropesa, Sophie Koch, Jonas Kaufmann, and David Bizic, conducted by Alain Altinoglu. Production by Sir Richard Eyre. From March 15, 2013. | Details

Saturday 3

Brott Music | Handel’s Messiah Easter Weekend Special. Brott Music are doing a three-day virtual Handel’s Messiah to celebrate Easter. Originally recorded in December 2020, Boris Brott, the National Academy Orchestra and Arcady Singers are joined by four superb soloists in this memorable musical celebration, accompanied by stunning artworks marking Christ’s journey. From April 2-4. | Details

Met | Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore. Starring Anna Netrebko, Matthew Polenzani, Mariusz Kwiecień, and Ambrogio Maestri, conducted by Maurizio Benini. Production by Bartlett Sher. From October 13, 2012. Tickets are $10. | Details

Sunday 4

Trio Arkel | La Bonne Chanson — 3 p.m. ET. Marie Bérard and Winona Zelena of Trio Arkel are joined by baritone Russell Braun, pianist Carolyn Maule, violinist Erika Raum and violist Remi Pelletier in a program of Beethoven, Shostakovich, Vaughan Williams, and Fauré. Tickets: Pay What You Can ($20 suggested). | Details

Met | Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Starring Nina Stemme, Ekaterina Gubanova, Stuart Skelton, Evgeny Nikitin, and René Pape, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Production by Mariusz Treliński. From October 8, 2016. | Details

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Screaming Divas with Sondra and Keri | Christian Van Horn Streamed March 26, the peripatetic divas chat with American bass-baritone Christian Van Horn, who sang Enrico brilliantly in the COC Anna Bolena opposite the two divas a few years ago. In between sipping vodka martini’s, the three chat about Van Horn “jumping into a new production of Faust at the last minute, singing every performance like it is your last, fame, CVH Podcast, spending time at home during the pandemic and storytelling on stage.” A fun show.

2) Teatro alla Scala | Omaggio a Nureyev Delayed due to a COVID outbreak at the ballet, it finally happened on March 28 and now available on demand. This show is a gem, featuring the best of La Scala Ballet has to offer.

3) Tafelmusik | Musik In Motion Critic’s Picks last featured the work of painter Darby Milbrath, in the first episode of this series. Now it’s cellist Keiran Campbell, playing Bach Cello Suite no. 1 in G Major. Future episodes include visual artist Alex McLeod and the Toronto Dance Theatre choreographer Hanna Kiel.

4) Esprit Orchestra | Film Bites: Toothpaste It’s good to have this amusing 6-minute mini-opera back! Composer Alexina Louie and librettist Dan Redican, directed by Larry Weinstein and conducted by Alex Pauk. The heroine is a very young Barbara Hannigan, before she became the international star soprano she is today. It also features comedian Mark McKinney, lip-synching to the voice of baritone Doug McNaughton. At the end, we get Alexina, Dan, Larry and Alex discussing the making of Toothpaste.

5) Wiener Philharmoniker | Fruhlingsstimmen Ending this week’s Critic’s Picks is this sublime Strauss Waltz, virtually an obligatory item in all New Year’s Concert from Vienna. Now with the world going through a horrible period, all the more reason we need music and the arts to soothe our soul and cheer our spirits. Riccardo Muti conducts the Vienna Philharmonic.

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Joseph So
Joseph So
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