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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical And Opera Streams You Absolutely Need To See This Week: May 31 – June 6

By Joseph So on May 31, 2021

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of May 31- June 6.
Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of May 31- June 6.

Critic’s Picks (May 31 – June 6)

“We live in an extraordinary Age” — Carl Sagan. With the decline in COVID cases in most of Europe and North America, a respite from this modern plague beckons. Some venues are striving to reopen for online or in-person performances, while others are looking ahead and announcing their 2021-22 seasons. As reported in Opera Wire, among the theatres announcing their upcoming seasons are Opéra National de Paris, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Badisches Staatsoper Karlsruhe, Théâtre Capitole de Toulouse, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opéra National du Rhin, Pittsburgh Festival Opera, Opéra de Toulon, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Oper Frankfurt, Festival Castell de Peralada, Opera Philadelphia, Spain National Orchestra and Chorus, Opernhaus Zürich, Festival Valle d’Itria, and the Teatro Real de Madrid. Teatro La Fenice will reopen on June 2 with a new production of Faust, with a live audience.

Sadly, not all reopenings went smoothly, and not all for COVID reasons. Slipped Disc reports that Opéra de Lyon cancelled its reopening due to a strike by its staff. Opera Wire reports that La Scala postponed its L’Italiana in Algeri on May 25 when an artist involved in the production tested positive. Similarly, conductor Alan Gilbert, scheduled to open Berlin Philharmonic on June 5, cancelled, to be replaced by Sakari Oramo. Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville, Spain postponed its May 24 opening of Carmen due to two positive tests in its production team. The Deutsches Nationaltheater und Staatskapelle Weimar has announced the cancellation of the remainder of its current season.

The Salzburg Whitsun Festival in Austria reopened with a blockbuster Tosca starring Anna Netrebko and Jonas Kaufmann, replacing the originally announced Anja Harteros and Bryn Terfel. An interesting twist is that it also featured the great Cecilia Bartoli — no, not as Tosca, but as the Shepherd Boy! She made her debut in this cameo role at the age of 10. These performances feature personalized ticketing to facilitate contact tracing, a maximum of 50% capacity, proof of vaccination, and use of face masks. Glyndebourne Festival 2021 started with an opening weekend of Kát’a Kabanová and Il turco in Italia on stage, and The Cunning Little Vixen online. It continues to August 29, with four operas and a concert series. The Czech Philharmonic performed a concert with a live audience of 350 on May 10 in Prague, conducted by Semyon Bychkov. Austria’s Salzburg Easter Festival now takes place on November 1. Wiener Staatsoper reopened on May 19 to a live audience, with COVID precautions. The Prague Summer Nights Young Artists Music Festival is going ahead for an in-person festival (July 5 – Aug 2).

LA Opera will return to live, in-person performances starting with a June 6 performance of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. James Conlon conducts, with Russell Thomas, J’Nai Bridges, and John Relyea. 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. New York’s Teatro Nuovo has announced that it will put on Rossini’s The Barber of Seville on July 27 and 28 on the summer stage at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park. And Toronto’s Luminato Festival, normally taking place in June, will be moved to October this year.

The theme of Met Opera’s nightly free streaming this week is “Aria Code: The Operas Behind the Podcast,” featuring operas highlighted in the Met’s podcast collaboration with WQXR, a classical music station in New York. Top stars featured in this week’s streams include Anna Netrebko, Elīna Garanča, Joseph Calleja, and Roberto Alagna. Met streams start at 7:30 p.m. ET and remain available for 23 hours. A Concert for New York, the first concert involving Met Opera forces since the pandemic, took place successfully on May 16. In the meantime, the virtual Met Stars Live in Concert series came to a successful conclusion with the Three Divas (Ailyn Perez, Nadine Sierra and Isabel Leonard) last Saturday. With COVID numbers now going down in the US, the future for live performances is looking a little brighter. Stay tuned.

Monday 31

Opera InReach | Songs of Childhood — 8:30 p.m. ET. Opera InReach hosts a virtual concert, raising awareness of AAPI heritage month. It features works by composers Kosaku Yamada and Yoshinao Nakada, with text by Rofu Miki and Shuichi Kato, as well as traditional Bicolano and Tagalog folksongs arranged by Lucrecia R. Kasilag. Mezzo Renee Fajardo, baritone Luka Kawabata, and pianist Perri Lo. | Details

Met Opera | Puccini’s Turandot. Starring Christine Goerke, Eleonora Buratto, Yusif Eyvazov, and James Morris, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Production by Franco Zeffirelli. From October 12, 2019. | Details

Tuesday 1

Bayerische Staatsoper | Aribert Reimann’s Lear — 1 p.m. ET. This performance of Lear by Aribert Reimann, premiered on May 30, will be a free video on demand starting at this time and will be available for 30 days. (Normally there is a fee for their on-demand viewing) Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducts, with Christian Gerhaher as Lear and Angela Denoke as Goneril. | Details

Wigmore Hall | Covid’s Metamorphoses — 2:30 p.m. ET. Part of Wigmore Hall’s anniversary week celebrations, “this song gala reflects on our pandemic journey, through the feelings and experiences we have all had in the last 14 months; danger, lockdown, hope and our continued recovery.” Soloists are soprano Sarah Fox, mezzo Christine Rice, tenor Alessandro Fisher, baritone Roderick Williams, and bass William Thomas. Pianist is Graham Johnson. Ticket to this sold-out concert is £25. It’ll also be live streamed and available on demand for 30 days. | Details

Met Opera | Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila. Starring Elīna Garanča, Roberto Alagna, Laurent Naouri, Elchin Azizov, and Dmitry Belosselskiy, conducted by Sir Mark Elder. Production by Darko Tresnjak. From October 20, 2018. | Details

Wednesday 2

Met Opera | Bizet’s Carmen Starring Aleksandra Kurzak, Clémentine Margaine, Roberto Alagna, and Alexander Vinogradov, conducted by Louis Langrée. Production by Sir Richard Eyre. From February 2, 2019. | Details

Thursday 3

Royal Conservatory of Music/Glenn Gould School | New Music Ensemble — 3 p.m. ET. Two programs of New Music — Abalone (world premiere) by Anna Höstman; Matt Curlee’s The Yellow Wallpaper; and Laconisme de l’aile by by Kaija Saariaho, and a set of cello pieces performed by GGS faculty member/TSO Principal Cello Joseph Johnson, all free to watch. Also, Season One of Music of My Life is now available on demand. | Details

Women’s Musical Club of Toronto | A Career Develop.m.ent Award Celebration — 1:30 p.m. ET. This special concert features Francine Kay, Jeanie Chung, and Charles Richard-Hamelin, piano; James Ehnes and Blake Pouliot, violin; Yegor Dyachkov, cello; Shannon Mercer, soprano; Vincent Lauzer, recorder; and Michael Bridge, accordion. Available on demand until June 24 on YouTube. | Details

Met Opera | Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment. Starring Pretty Yende, Stephanie Blythe, Kathleen Turner, Javier Camarena, and Maurizio Muraro, conducted by Enrique Mazzola. Production by Laurent Pelly. From March 2, 2019. | Details

Sinfonia Toronto | Virtuosity — 8 p.m. ET. This newly released archival video features chamber symphonies by Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergey Prokofiev, conducted by Nurhan Arman – Prokofiev’s opus 50 and Shostakovich’s opus 118. Tickets are $15. | Details

Friday 4

Oper Frankfurt | Mozart’s Requiem — 1:30 p.m. ET. This free stream of Mozart Requiem features Thomas Guggeis conducting the Choir and Orchestra of the Frankfurt Opera, with soprano Florina Ilie, mezzo Cecelia Hall, tenor Michael Porter, and bass Thomas Faulkner. | Details

Met Opera | The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. Starring Angel Blue, Golda Schultz, Latonia Moore, Denyce Graves, Frederick Ballentine, Eric Owens, Alfred Walker, and Donovan Singletary, conducted by David Robertson. Production by James Robinson. From February 1, 2020. | Details

Saturday 5

Met Opera | Verdi’s Macbeth. Starring Anna Netrebko, Joseph Calleja, Željko Lučić, and René Pape, conducted by Fabio Luisi. Production by Adrian Noble. From October 11, 2014. | Details

Sunday 6

Met Opera | 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

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Wigmore Hall | Sir Andras Schiff. Streamed May 30 and now on demand for 90 days. “Sir Andras Schiff has been performing at Wigmore Hall regularly since his debut in 1978 and has become a firm audience favourite. He shows no signs of slowing down as he joins the Summer 2021 Series with two evening recitals; this second programme features music by Mozart.”

2) Pacific Opera Victoria | Bon Appétit/The Italian Lesson. This comic double-bill stars Canadian mezzo Megan Latham. Her Julia Child is priceless, giving fellow Julia/mezzo Jamie Barton a run for her money. The equally funny Italian Lesson centers around a Park Avenue matron translating Dante’s Divine Comedy while being terribly distracted. Two amusing chamber pieces by Lee Hoiby. Available until June 21.

3) Fred Plotkin on Fridays | Stephanie Blythe. This episode features the terrific veteran American mezzo, Stephanie Blythe, in a heartfelt and candid chat with Fred Plotkin, reflecting on her long career and the impact of the pandemic on the performing arts.

4) Oper Frankfurt | Marlis Petersen Liederabend. German soprano Marlis Petersen sings “Innenwelt,” a recital of songs that reflects the inner world, the soul of the composer and the interpreter – songs by Brahms, Wolf, Strauss, Reger, Liszt, Mahler. The encore is Träume, the last of the Wesendonck-Lieder by Wagner. Stephan Matthias Lademann is the pianist. Program HERE.

5) Canadian Opera Company | Key Change: Opera and Criticism Podcast. Episode 15 revisits the topic of opera and criticism, last with American critic Anne Midgette. This time, the guest is Karen Fricker of the Toronto Star. As a seasoned writer and academic, Fricker “makes the case for criticism as a historical record, shares her hopes for the future of performance art.” | Details

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Joseph So
Joseph So
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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical And Opera Streams You Absolutely Need To See This Week: May 31 – June 6

By Joseph So on May 31, 2021

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of May 31- June 6.
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THE SCOOP | Elora Festival’s 2021 Summer Festival Line-Up Moves Ahead

By Michael Vincent on June 11, 2021

The Elora Festival has pulled the curtain on this summer’s festival lineup, announcing nine events online.
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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical And Opera Streams You Absolutely Need To See This Week: June 14 – 20

By Joseph So on June 14, 2021

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of June 14 – 20.
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