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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical And Opera Streams You Absolutely Need To See This Week: June 7–13

By Joseph So on June 7, 2021

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of June 7–13.
Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of June 7–13.

Critic’s Picks (June 7–13)

“We live in an extraordinary Age” — Carl Sagan. It is almost summer 2021, and with the decline in COVID cases in Europe and North America, many performing arts organizations are gearing up for summer events and announcing their 2021-22 season. As reported in Opera Wire, these companies include Opéra National de Paris, Badisches Staatsoper Karlsruhe, Théâtre Capitole de Toulouse, Opéra National du Rhin, Teatro La Fenice, Opéra de Toulon, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Oper Frankfurt, Opernhaus Zürich, Teatro Real de Madrid, Opera Holland Park, Dutch National Opera, Teatro Regio di Parma, Hungarian State Opera, Staatsoper Berlin, and many others.

The Salzburg Whitsun Festival in Austria re-opened 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. The Prague Summer Nights Young Artists Music Festival is going ahead for an in-person festival (July 5-Aug 2).

On this side of the Atlantic, the Santa Fe Opera will take place July 10 to August 23, with an in-house, socially distanced audience, plus nightly simulcast in its lower parking lot. The Chicago Lyric Opera will present a film of Pagliacci in August starring Russell Thomas and Ailyn Perez. Tanglewood and Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer festivals will happen, in the case of BSO at 50% capacity. The picture is less clear in Toronto. The Luminato Festival, normally to take place in June, has been moved to October. According to the video blog of the new Canadian Opera Company General Director Perryn Leech, an announcement of its 2021-22 season will take place on June 7. Toronto Summer Music Festival’s program announcement is on the same day. I will report on both next week. While the TSO has not announced its new season, it is offering a pre-taped stream of “Sarah Jeffrey Plays Mozart” available June 22-29.

LA Opera returned to live, in-person performances with a June 6 performance of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. James Conlon conducted, with Russell Thomas, J’Nai Bridges, and John Relyea. 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.

On the streaming front, this is Week 65 of the Met Opera’s free nightly streaming, an astounding feat and only possible from opera houses with enormous archives like the Met. The theme this week is “Changing the Scene: Updated Settings for Classic Operas,” featuring concept or reimagined productions. These approaches have been around for decades in Europe, but North American audiences are typically more resistant to new interpretations. Top stars featured in this week’s streams include Natalie Dessay, Joyce DiDonato, Jonas Kaufmann, and Piotr Beczala. Met streams start at 7:30 p.m. ET and remain available for 23 hours. There seems to be a certain “livestream fatigue” these days, with fewer initiatives from independent artists, compared to just a few short months ago. Let’s hope that we’ll soon be back in the concert halls and opera houses. Meanwhile, an excellent opera-on-demand stream is the Opera de Lille Tosca starring Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury. Equally interesting is the Screaming Divas interviewing top American tenor Matthew Polenzani.

Monday 7

Met Opera | Verdi’s Rigoletto. Starring Diana Damrau, Oksana Volkova, Piotr Beczała, Željko Lučić, and Štefan Kocán, conducted by Michele Mariotti. Production by Michael Mayer. From February 16, 2013. | Details

Tuesday 8

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

Wednesday 9

Met Opera | Bellini’s La Sonnambula. Starring Natalie Dessay, Juan Diego Flórez, and Michele Pertusi, conducted by Evelino Pidò. Production by Mary Zimmerman. From March 21, 2009. | Details

Thursday 10

Met Opera | 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

Friday 11

Met Opera | Thomas Adès’s The Tempest. Starring Audrey Luna, Isabel Leonard, Iestyn Davies, Alek Shrader, Alan Oke, William Burden, Toby Spence, and Simon Keenlyside, conducted by Thomas Adès. Production by Robert Lepage. From November 10, 2012. | Details

Saturday 12

Met Opera | Verdi’s Falstaff. Starring Lisette Oropesa, Angela Meade, Stephanie Blythe, Jennifer Johnson Cano, Paolo Fanale, Ambrogio Maestri, and Franco Vassallo, conducted by James Levine. Production by Robert Carsen. From December 14, 2013. | Details

Sunday 13

Glyndebourne Opera | Rossini’s The Barber of Seville — 12 p.m. ET. This Rossini classic stars Danielle de Niese (Rosina), Taylor Stayton (Count Almaviva), Alessandro Corbelli (Dr Bartolo), and Björn Bürger (Figaro). Enrique Mazzola conducts. | Details

Met Orchestra Musicians | Spotlight Series — 3 p.m. ET. This concert, “At Peak Performance with the MET Orchestra Musicians,” takes place on the 101st floor of 30 Hudson Yards, a soaring skyscraper known for its triangular observation deck that floats over the West Side of Manhattan. The concert was filmed in front of an invited audience, featuring mezzo Tamara Mumford, in a program of Ravel, Yoshimatsu, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Bizet, Händel, and Rossini. Tickets $15. | Details

Met Opera | Mozart’s Così fan tutte. Starring Amanda Majeski, Serena Malfi, Kelli O’Hara, Ben Bliss, Adam Plachetka, and Christopher Maltman, conducted by David Robertson. Production by Phelim McDermott. From March 31, 2018. | Details

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Wigmore Hall | Mitsuko Uchida. Premiered last week and now on demand, the great Japanese pianist plays two sets of Schubert Impromptus, D899 and D935. It feels good to see a live audience in the hall!

2) Opera de Lille | Puccini’s Tosca. Livestreamed on June 3 and now on demand, Alexandre Bloch conducts the Puccini classic starring Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury (Tosca), Jonathan Tetelman (Mario Cavaradossi), and Gevorg Hakobyan (Baron Scarpia). A barebones staging, yet it works quite well.

3) Screaming Divas with Sondra and Keri | Matthew Polenzani. After a Memorial Day break, the Screaming Divas are back to their shenanigans, here chatting with the American tenor Matthew Polenzani.

4) Medici TV | Eighty Minutes with the Magical Martha Argerich. In honour of her 80th birthday on June 5, Medici TV is streaming this compilation of clips of the great pianist in performance over six decades.

5) Fabio Armiliato Official Channel | Daniela Dessi: Vier letzte Lieder. This week’s Critic’s Picks ends on a poignant note, with a video of the late Italian soprano in a repertoire not usually associated with her. Known for her Verdi, Puccini, Bellini, and Donizetti, Dessi takes on this beautiful and most taxing of Strauss song cycles. Francesco La Vecchia conducts the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma. This song cycle about the end of life was recorded in December 2011. Sadly, less than five years later, Dessi passed away from cancer, at a much too young age of 59. This video has just appeared on the YouTube channel of Dessi’s husband, tenor Fabio Armiliato. It is a performance to honour and enjoy.

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Joseph So
Joseph So
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