Critic’s Picks (June 14 – 20)
“We live in an extraordinary Age” — Carl Sagan. It is now summer 2021, and with the decline in COVID cases in Europe and North America, the re-opening of concert and opera venues for the summer and next season is gathering steam. According to Opera Wire, recent announcements have come from Bayerische Staatsoper, Opéra de Metz Métropole, Teatro de la Zarzuela, Opéra de Lille, Staatsoper Berlin, Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Göteborg Opera, Stadttheater Klagenfurt, Philharmonie Essen, Hungarian State Opera, Opera de Massy, and others. Audiences can expect various COVID precautions, possibly including proof of vaccination.
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 27, with 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. 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.
In Canada, the Elora Festival (Aug. 5 – 28) will be an online festival. Sinfonia Toronto’s 2021-22 season, “A Joyous Reunion,” will have a hybrid format, combining in-person and virtual concerts. Toronto’s Luminato Festival, normally in June, will take place in October. The TSO has yet to announce next season, but it’s offering a pre-taped stream of “Sarah Jeffrey Plays Mozart” available June 22–29. Toronto Summer Music (July 15 – August 1) will be online, with a mix of chamber music, art song, and dance, all free of charge. Wellington Water Week, a music festival in Wellington, Prince Edward County is now rebranded as the BIGLAKE Festival, under the co-artistic directorship of conductor Johannes Debus and violinist Elissa Lee. It will take place August 20-27. The Canadian Opera Company made an announcement on June 7, with very little details except that the fall season is likely virtual and completely free. It promises more information on the rest of the season in August.
On the streaming front, this is Week 66 of the Met Opera’s free nightly streaming, an astounding feat and only possible from opera companies with enormous archives like the Met. The theme this week is appropriately “Happy Father’s Day,” featuring operas with dads running the gamut from wonderful to dreadful. Top stars include Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Kiri Te Kanawa, Renata Scotto, Natalie Dessay, and many more. 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 compared to just a few short months ago, with fewer and fewer content on offer. Totally understandable given we have been in this pandemic now for a year and a half. With COVID numbers declining, there’s hope that we’ll soon be back to the concert halls and opera houses for the joy of music.
Met Opera | Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra. Starring Kiri Te Kanawa, Plácido Domingo, Vladimir Chernov, and Robert Lloyd, conducted by James Levine. Production by Giancarlo Del Monaco. From January 26, 1995. | Details
Met Opera | Wagner’s Die Walküre. Starring Christine Goerke, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Jamie Barton, Stuart Skelton, Greer Grimsley, and Günther Groissböck, conducted by Philippe Jordan. Production by Robert Lepage. From March 30, 2019. | Details
Collingwood Summer Music Festival | Summer Solstice Series — 7 p.m. ET. First of four livestream events, starting with a fundraiser for the Actors’ Fund of Canada with R.H. Thomson*, followed by Schubert Piano Recital (June 19 3 p.m.), In The Footsteps of Chopin with Dr. Alan Walker* (June 23 7 p.m.), and Chopin Piano Recital (June 26 3 p.m.). Note the two marked (*) are not available on demand. The two piano recitals are played by Festival AD Daniel Vnukowski. | Details
Met Opera | Verdi’s La Traviata. Starring Natalie Dessay, Matthew Polenzani, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Fabio Luisi. Production by Willy Decker. From April 14, 2012. | Details
Met Opera | Mozart’s Idomeneo. Starring Elza van den Heever, Nadine Sierra, Alice Coote, Matthew Polenzani, and Alan Opie, conducted by James Levine. Production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. From March 25, 2017. | Details
Met Opera | 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
Met Opera | Verdi’s Don Carlo. Starring Marina Poplavskaya, Anna Smirnova, Roberto Alagna, Simon Keenlyside, Ferruccio Furlanetto, and Eric Halfvarson, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Production by Nicholas Hytner. From December 11, 2010. | Details
Met Opera | Verdi’s Luisa Miller. Starring Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Bonaldo Giaiotti, and James Morris, conducted by James Levine. Production by Nathaniel Merrill. From January 20, 1979. | Details
1) Canadian Opera Company | Key Change Episode 16: Jack Diamond. The last of this season’s Key Change, Robyn and Julie speak with three people about the Four Seasons Centre: Jack Diamond, lead architect of the FSC, Janice Oliver, who oversaw its design and construction, and soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, a regular on the FSC stage. | Details
2) Glyndebourne | Barber of Seville. Recorded in 2016 Festival, Enrique Mazzola conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Glyndebourne Chorus and a fine cast: Danielle de Niese (Rosina), Alessandro Corbelli (Dr Bartolo), Taylor Stayton (Count Almaviva), Björn Bürger (Figaro). Available until Sunday June 27.
3) Screaming Divas with Sondra and Keri | Lise Davidsen. Few sopranos in recent memory have generated more excitement in the opera world than Norwegian Lise Davidsen, called the “New Kirsten Flagstad” by fans and media alike. She chats with Sondra Radvanovsky and Keri Alkema.
4) Domoney Artists | OperaBreaks: Singing in the Shadows. This series of four short opera clips features singers on the roster of Domoney Artists, to be released in June and July: June 12 – “Dite alla giovine” La Traviata Natalya Gennadi, soprano & Dion Mazerolle, baritone; June 26 – “Green Finch and Linnet Bird”, Sweeney Todd – Caitlin Wood, soprano; July 10 – “Crudel! perché finora”, Le Nozze di Figaro – Caitlin Wood, soprano & Clarence Frazer, baritone; and July 26 – “Vilja” The Merry Widow – Natalya Gennadi, soprano. François Racine directs. | Details
5) Tafelmusik | Dynamic Duos. This video explores duets featuring various instrument pairings, on music written without the usual continuo accompaniment: works by Vivaldi, Couperin, Telemann, Rolla, Saggione, Besozzi, and Leclair. Tickets: $25/$30 and access from June 17, 8 p.m. for one week of extended viewing. | Details
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