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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical And Opera Streams You Absolutely Need To See This Week: April 5–11

By Joseph So on April 5, 2021

Classical music and opera events happening in and around Toronto for the week of April 5 – 11.

Critic’s Picks (April 5 – 11)

“We live in an extraordinary Age” – Carl Sagan. COVID 19 continues to decimate our musical life, now with the dreaded “Third Wave” made more lethal by new variants. Nearly all European venues are closed to live audiences. At press time, France, Germany and Italy are in lockdown. A 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. 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 number of cases per million population of any country in the world.  The Polish National Opera has cancelled all performances until April 9. However, it will live stream an orchestral concert with Piotr Beczala on April 5, without an audience. 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 suffered a 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. 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 still have performances for live audiences, with Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu scheduled to stage Otello for an audience of 1,000. Also, it has just been announced that the Teatro Real de Madrid has delayed the opening of Peter Grimes from April 8 to 19, due to travel restrictions of the British artists to Spain following Brexit.

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 a new lockdown for the next four weeks, with the Opéra National de Paris cancelling all performances to May 2. It streamed Faust from the Opéra Bastille on March 26, accessible on France 5, made available on Culturebox for six months. The Opéra Comique canceled 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 canceled all performances in March. The Theater an der Wien, Vienna’s third opera house, is closed “until further notice.”

Despite a virulent Third Wave, there are a few interesting events on offer in the US. 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 presents “My Favorite Things: Songs from The Sound of Music” on May 8, a singalong/fundraiser featuring members of the cast from the full production.  The Merola Opera Program presents a virtual charity gala on April 10, “Un Gala In Maschera,” a tribute to Merola’s artistic director, Sheri Greenawald.

Now in its 55th week, the Met’s nightly free streaming continues with “From Page to Stage,” with operas based on great literature, interpreted by singers the likes of Luciano Pavarotti, Jonas Kaufmann, Anna Netrebko, and Placido Domingo. All Met streams start at 7:30 pm ET and remain available for 23 hours. Canadians this week in the Met streams include conductor Yannick Nézét-Séguin and the late, great baritone Louis Quilico. Sondra Radvanovsky and Keri Alkema of the Screaming Divas chat with the new COC General Director Perryn Leech. Toronto Wagner Society interviews the great Canadian baritone Gerald Finley. Young chamber musicians are featured in both RCM’s Rebanks Fellowship Concert, and in WMCT’s Music In the Afternoon concert.

Monday 5

Wiener Staatsoper | Puccini’s La Boheme — 1 pm ET. This Puccini classic stars the new tenor sensation Benjamin Bernheim (Rodolfo) opposite the Mimi of soprano Marina Rebeka. Free with one-time registration. Speranza Scappucci, who made a memorable COC debut two seasons ago, conducts. Performance from November 29, 2018. | Details

Teatr Wielki Polish National Opera | Piotr Beczała — 1 pm ET. A homecoming for the famed Polish tenor in an orchestral concert (without an audience), singing a varied program of Italian and Polish opera arias. Łukasz Borowicz conducts the Orchestra of the Polish National Opera. Available for 48 hours. | Details

Met | Gounod’s Faust. Starring Marina Poplavskaya, Jonas Kaufmann, and René Pape, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Production by Des McAnuff. From December 10, 2011. | Details

Tuesday 6

Toronto Wagner Society | A Morning with Gerald Finley — 11 am ET. Canadian baritone Gerald Finley is the special guest with the Toronto Wagner Society, hosted by TWS President Dr. Frances Henry. | Details

Wiener Staatsoper | Verdi’s Rigoletto — 1 pm ET. Evelino Pidò conducts the Pierre Audi production, starring Carlos Álvarez, Juan Diego Flórez, Olga Peretyatko, Ain Anger, and Nadia Krasteva. | Details

Met | Verdi’s Rigoletto. Starring Christiane Eda-Pierre, Isola Jones, Luciano Pavarotti, Louis Quilico, and Ara Berberian, conducted by James Levine. Production by John Dexter. From December 15, 1981. | Details

Wednesday 7

Met | Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Starring Anna Netrebko, Elena Maximova, Alexey Dolgov, Peter Mattei, and Štefan Kocán, conducted by Robin Ticciati. Production by Deborah Warner. From April 22, 2017. | Details

Thursday 8

Royal Conservatory of Music | Rebanks Family Fellowship Concert — 7:30 pm ET. The GGS is the professional arm of the RCM. Each year, talented current and former Rebanks Fellows are showcased in this concert. This year’s artists are Rebecca Anderson (violin), Adam Harris (baritone), Sonia Bize (harp), Alexander Seredenko (piano), Danny Koo (violin), plus guest artists Trevor Chartrand (piano) and Grace Han (piano). | Details

Met | Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini. Starring Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo, and Cornell MacNeil, conducted by James Levine. Production by Piero Faggioni. From April 7, 1984. | Details

Friday 9

Met | Shostakovich’s The Nose. Starring Andrey Popov, Alexander Lewis, and Paulo Szot, conducted by Pavel Smelkov. Production by William Kentridge. From October 26, 2013. | Details

Saturday 10

Teatro Massimo di Palermo | Verdi’s Requiem — 2 pm ET. Taped last week without audience, it features Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury, mezzo Martina Belli, tenor Francesco Meli, and bass Riccardo Zanellato. Riccardo Muti conducts the Orchestra and Choir of the Teatro Massimo. | Details

Met | Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. Starring Anna Netrebko, Roberto Alagna, Nathan Gunn, and Robert Lloyd, conducted by Plácido Domingo. Production by Guy Joosten. From December 15, 2007. | Details

Sunday 11

Met | Verdi’s Luisa Miller. Starring Sonya Yoncheva, Olesya Petrova, Piotr Beczała, Plácido Domingo, Alexander Vinogradov, and Dmitry Belosselskiy, conducted by Bertrand de Billy. Production by Elijah Moshinsky. From April 14, 2018. | Details

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Screaming Divas with Sondra and Keri | Perryn Leech. This latest episode is of particular interest to Canadian opera fans, as Sondra Radvanovsky and Keri Alkema interview COC’s new General Director, Perryn Leech, who has been the head of the Houston Grand Opera. Leech also is the host of the monthly COC vlog “Check-In With Perryn.”

2) Wigmore Hall | Fretwork: St. Matthew Passion. A performance of a rare St. Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastiani (1622-1683), composed 70 years before Bach’s much more familiar St. Matthew Passion. A shorter and more intimate work for five singers and a small chamber ensemble, set to nearly identical text. Richard Boothby conducts. Available on demand for 90 days.

3) Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall | St. Matthew Passion. From April 11, 2010, it features baritone Christian Gerhaher, mezzo Magdalena Kožená, soprano Camilla Tilling, tenors Mark Padmore and Topi Lehtipuu, and bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff. English Choral conductor Simon Halsey Jirka conducts the Peter Sellars production. Free on demand with registration until April 5. | Details

4) Women’s Musical Club of Toronto | Viano String Quartet plays Schubert and Shaw. Premiered on April 1 and on demand until April 25, the 123rd Season of Music in the Afternoon presents the co-winner of the 2019 Banff International String Quartet Competition.

5) HBD! Project MARCH | Soprano Natalya Gennadi and mezzo Catharin Carew join forces to create HBD!Project, celebrating the birthdays of three or four composers each month, ranging from historical to contemporary. Here’s their episode for March, 2021. Incidentally, the opening music is a mix of Mozart’s Porgi amor and Happy Birthday, arranged by Canadian conductor Jordan De Sousa!

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Joseph So
Joseph So
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