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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical And Opera Streams You Absolutely Need To See This Week: May 10 – 16

By Joseph So on May 10, 2021

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of May 10 – 16.
Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of May 10 – 16.

Critic’s Picks (May 10–16)

“We live in an extraordinary Age” — Carl Sagan. COVID-19 continues to decimate the musical world. Now well into the second year of the pandemic, some venues are struggling to re-open for late spring and summer performances, despite the uncertainties. As reported in Slipped Disc, French president Emmanuel Macron has approved the reopening of concert halls and opera houses with audience starting May 19, with up to 900 attendees indoors and 1,000 outdoors, increasing to 5,000 starting June 9. The Salzburg Whitsun Festival in Austria will take place May 21-24, with personalized ticketing to facilitate contact tracing, a maximum of 50% capacity, proof of vaccination, and use of face masks. Glyndebourne is going ahead with its Festival (May 20 to August 29), opening with Kát’a Kabanová, the first in a program of four operas and a concert series. According to Opera Wire, the Czech Philharmonic will perform a concert with a live audience of 350 on May 10 in Prague, conducted by Semyon Bychkov. This marks the Czech Republic’s first cultural event with a live audience since the pandemic lockdown.

Some Italian theatres are reopening, notably Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Teatro Alla Scala. Teatro dell’Opera di Roma presented Luisa Miller conducted by Michele Mariotti on April 30, in a concert performance, but without the planned live audience. Opernhaus Zurich reopened on May 1 for a ballet performance with a limited audience of 50 people. Austria’s Salzburg Easter Festival is postponed to November 1, with a revised program to be announced in May. Wiener Staatsoper will reopen on May 19 to a live audience, with COVID precautions. The Bolshoi and Teatro La Fenice have reopened with a schedule of performances into the summer months. The Prague Summer Nights Young Artists Music Festival is going ahead for an in-person festival (July 5-Aug 2).

While things are re-opening in France, Austria, Italy and the UK, the news from Germany is grim. The German Parliament has granted Chancellor Angela Merkel’s federal cabinet the power to impose more stringent measures on the federal level and the states will have to comply. Opera Wire just reported that Oper Frankfurt, Staatsoper Stuttgart, and Nationaltheater Mannheim are extending their shutdown, joining opera houses in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Wiesbaden, and Dresden.

On this side of the pond, San Francisco Opera is presenting live performances at the Marin Center, a Drive-In cinema (May 13), presenting the Barber of Seville. LA Opera has launched a Signature Recital Series online, to showcase singers Russell Thomas, J’Nai Bridges, Christine Goerke, Julia Bullock, and Susan Graham. Looking further into the future, two orchestras have announced summer plans: LA Philharmonic reopens the Hollywood Bowl in July, and the Cleveland Orchestra returns to the Blossom Festival on July 11. It has just been announced that Toronto’s Luminato Festival, normally taking place in June, will be moved to October this year.

This week is the Grand Finals of the Met National Council Auditions, and its streams focus on operas starring former winners who have gone on to great careers, the likes of Renee Fleming, Susan Graham, and Ben Heppner. A must-see is the documentary The Audition, a behind-the-scenes look at the 2007 Competition. Canadians featured in the Met streams this week include Sondra Radvanovsky, Teresa Stratas, and Ben Heppner, all former winners, with Stratas as early as 1959! Met streams start at 7:30 p.m. ET and remain available for 23 hours. This week marks the final round of the Montreal International Music Competition (Piano), with real-time live streams May 10 to 13.

Monday 10

CMIM (Piano) | Final Round — 10 a.m. ET. Livestreaming that spans four days. Finalists are Alice Burla (Canada), Marcel Tadokoro (France), Su Yeon Kim (South Korea), Chaeyoung Park (South Korea), Yoichiro Chiba (Japan), Ying Li (China), Dimitri Malignan (France), Francesco Granata (Italy). | Details

Wiener Staatsoper | Nabucco — 1 p.m. ET. Marco Armiliato conducts, with Plácido Domingo, Freddie De Tommaso, Riccardo Zanellato, and Anna Pirozzi. Performances from January 22, 2021. | Details

Met Opera | Puccini’s La Bohème. Starring Teresa Stratas, Renata Scotto, José Carreras, Richard Stilwell, and James Morris, conducted by James Levine. Production by Franco Zeffirelli. From January 16, 1982 is this exceptional performance that has withstood the test of time. Stratas is a most affecting Mimi, Carreras an ardent Rodolfo, and Renata Scotto an over-the-top Musetta. If you have never seen this, it’s a must! | Details

Tuesday 11

Met Opera | Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Starring Carol Vaness, Karita Mattila, Dawn Upshaw, Jerry Hadley, Samuel Ramey, Ferrucio Furlanetto, and Kurt Moll, conducted by James Levine. Production by Franco Zeffirelli. From April 5, 1990. | Details

Wednesday 12

Met Opera | Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Starring Jane Eaglen, Katarina Dalayman, Ben Heppner, Hans-Joachim Ketelsen, and René Pape, conducted by James Levine. Production by Dieter Dorn. From December 18, 1999. A wonderful performance, with Eaglen and Heppner in excellent form. Incidentally, Eaglen will be the guest of a Toronto Wagner Society Zoom interview on May 26. Details to follow. | Details

Thursday 13

Royal Conservatory of Music | Piano Showcase — 3 p.m. ET. Postponed from April 10, this free online concert features Glenn Gould School students in a recital of Debussy’s Préludes, Book 1, L. 117. | Details

Women’s Musical Club of Toronto | Rolston String Quartet — 1:30 p.m. ET. WMCT’s Music in the Afternoon series presents the Rolston String Quartet in a program of Haydn and Grieg. Available on demand until June 2. | Details

Met Opera | Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. Starring Renée Fleming, Christine Schäfer, Susan Graham, Eric Cutler, Thomas Allen, and Kristinn Sigmundsson, conducted by Edo de Waart. Production by Nathaniel Merrill. From January 9, 2010. | Details

Friday 14

Met Opera | The Audition. This documentary captures the 2007 Met National Council Auditions, an excellent year with many winners going on to terrific careers – Michael Fabiano, Angela Meade, Jamie Barton, Amber Wagner, and Alek Shrader. It also had the tragedy of the passing from lymphoma of tenor Ryan Smith the following year. To get into the mood for the Grand Finals Concert on Sunday, the Susan Froemke documentary is a terrific choice. | Details

Saturday 15

Met Opera | Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Starring Isabel Leonard, Lawrence Brownlee, Christopher Maltman, Maurizo Muraro, and Paata Burchuladze, conducted by Michele Mariotti. Production by Bartlett Sher. From November 22, 2014. | Details

Sunday 16

Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions | Grand Finals — 3 p.m. ET. Hear the stars of tomorrow in this Met Auditions Grand Finals concert, featuring winners of the semifinals that just concluded. | Details

Met Opera | 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

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Wigmore Hall | Jonathan Plowright. Streamed May 3, the British pianist plays Busoni’s arrangement of Bach’s D minor Chaconne, followed by Liszt’s Consolations S172, and Grieg’s Holberg Suite Op. 40. Available for 30 days after the livestream.

2) Teatro Dell’Opera di Roma | Luisa Miller. Livestreamed on May 8 and on demand, Michele Mariotti conducts a concert performance of the Verdi opera, featuring young singers from Rome Opera’s Fabricca Young Artists Program as well as veteran singers.

3) CMIM | Charles Richard-Hamelin Masterclass. Recorded March 12 and premiered May 7 to coincide with the 2021 Concours Musical International de Montreal, the brilliant Canadian pianist Charles Richard Hamelin, himself a 2014 winner and Silver Medallist of the 2015 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, coaches pianist Yuyang Xie, Grand Prize winner of the Canadian Music Competition (2019) in Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3 first movement. Proceedings in French, with French subtitles only.

4) Royal Swedish Opera | Puccini’s Tosca. Streamed on OperaVision on 7 May and available for 6 months, this semi-staged concert performance stars Malin Byström (Tosca), Daniel Johansson (Cavaradossi) and Łukasz Goliński (Scarpia). Matteo Beltrami conducts the Royal Swedish Opera Orchestra and Chorus.

5) Royal Conservatory of Music | Music of My Life: A Conversation with Cynthia Dale. This new series is part of RCM’s new digital platform, “RoyalConservatory.Live” featuring over 40 concerts from its archives. In this episode, actor and music theatre star Cynthia Dale chats with RCM’s Mervon Mehta. Free registration here.

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Joseph So
Joseph So
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