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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical And Opera Streams You Absolutely Need To See This Week: July 12–18

By Joseph So on July 12, 2021

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of July 12–18.
Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of July 12–18.

Critic’s Picks (July 12 – 18)

“We live in an extraordinary Age” — Carl Sagan. The decline in COVID cases in Europe and North America has led to a slew of announcements regarding the reopening of concert and opera venues for the summer and next season. Announcements have come from Bayerische Staatsoper, Opera National de Paris, 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, Bilbao Opera, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Opera National de Bordeaux, Theatre Essen, Staatsoper Stuttgart, Polish National Opera, Oper Köln, Wiener Volksoper, Staatstheater Wiesbaden and others. Audiences can expect various heath precautions, possibly including proof of vaccination. That said, the most recent COVID numbers have shown a troubling surge in some European countries, notably the UK, Netherlands, Spain, France, and Portugal. It appears the road to normalcy may not be a smooth one.

On this side of the Atlantic, the big news is the recently announced agreement between the Metropolitan Opera and its local chapter of IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees). The agreement includes a 3% wage cut and a 4.5% annuity cut for three years, plus a lump sum payment equal to eight weeks of bridge pay as well as several other concessions, far short of what the Met’s Peter Gelb wanted. Let us hope this paves the way to a reopening in the fall. Elsewhere in North America, the Santa Fe Opera has reopened on July 10, 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 has returned to live, in-person performances. LA Philharmonic is reopening in the Hollywood Bowl this month, as is the Cleveland Orchestra, returning to the Blossom Festival. 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 it is good to hear the once ubiquitous New York City Opera is back, with a summer season in Bryant Park. Michigan Opera Theatre is offering free summer concerts featuring its Touring Ensemble at several Detroit neighbourhoods and in parks elsewhere in Michigan.

In Canada, the Elora Festival (Aug. 5 – 28) will be all online. 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 National Ballet of Canada recently announced their new season; as has the Toronto Symphony, which opens in November. Toronto Summer Music Festival (July 15 – August 1) opens online this week, with a mix of chamber music, art song, and dance, all free of charge. With the recent announcement of Ontario entering Stage 3 on July 16, perhaps there is a possibility of a small in-house audience later in the run? Wellington Water Week, a music festival in Wellington, Prince Edward County, is now rebranded as the BIGLAKE Festival (August 20-27), under the co-artistic directorship of conductor Johannes Debus and violinist Elissa Lee. The Canadian Opera Company’s announcement on June 7 had no details, only the promise of a free online fall season. Its General Director Perryn Leech just said on his vlog a few days ago that a more detailed announcement will come on August 16.

On the streaming front, this is Week 70 of the Met Opera’s free nightly streaming, an astounding feat only possible from opera companies with enormous archives like the Met. The theme this week is “Operas of Puccini.” Streams start at 7:30 p.m. ET and remain available for 23 hours. San Francisco Opera is streaming one opera every weekend in July: Jenufa, Les Troyens, Elektra, and Luisa Miller in July. There are noticeably less streaming initiatives from independent artists, understandable given that we have been in this pandemic for a year and a half. With COVID numbers declining in Europe and North America, there’s hope that the Delta variant can be kept at bay, and we will soon return to the concert halls and opera houses doing what we love, to make and to enjoy music.

Monday 12

Met Opera | Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. Starring Karita Mattila, Marcello Giordani, and Dwayne Croft, conducted by James Levine. From February 16, 2008. | Details

Tuesday 13

Met Opera | Puccini’s La Bohème. Starring Renata Scotto, Maralin Niska, Luciano Pavarotti, Ingvar Wixell, and Paul Plishka, conducted by James Levine. Production by Fabrizio Melano. From March 15, 1977. This seminal performance ushered in the modern era of Met operas shown on television, and now online. Not-to-be-missed. | Details

Wednesday 14

Met Opera | Puccini’s Tosca. Starring Shirley Verrett, Luciano Pavarotti, and Cornell MacNeil, conducted by James Conlon. From December 19, 1978. | Details

Thursday 15

Toronto Summer Music Festival | Opening Night: Charles Richard-Hamelin — 7:30 p.m. ET. This one hour opening concert features the terrific Quebec pianist in a program of Mozart (Fantasia in C minor, K.475 and Piano Sonata No. 14 in C minor, K. 457) and Chopin Preludes. Free concert, registration not required. | Details

Met Opera | Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Starring Hui He, Elizabeth DeShong, Bruce Sledge, and Paulo Szot, conducted by Pier Giorgio Morandi. Production by Anthony Minghella. From November 9, 2019. | Details

Friday 16

Toronto Summer Music Festival | Russell Braun Masterclass — 2 p.m. ET. For voice fans: the celebrated Canadian baritone Russell Braun, a terrific singer and noted teacher at the U of T Faculty of Music, gives a class to TSMF Art of the Song Fellows. | Details

Toronto Summer Music Festival | Gryphon Trio — 7:30 p.m. ET. Annalee Patipatanakoon, violin; Roman Borys, cello; and Jamie Parker, piano perform a program of works by Valentin Silvestrov, Bruce A. Russell, and Beethoven. Free concert, registration not required. | Details

Met Opera | Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West. Starring Barbara Daniels, Plácido Domingo, and Sherrill Milnes, conducted by Leonard Slatkin. Production by Giancarlo Del Monaco. From April 8, 1992. | Details

Saturday 17

San Francisco Opera | Berlioz’s Les Troyens — 1 p.m. ET. Second of SFO’s free streams in July, this Berlioz masterpiece has a superlative cast led by Bryan Hymel (Aeneas), Anna Caterina Antonacci (Cassandre), and Susan Graham (Dido). Donald Runnicles conducts. Available until 3 am ET Monday. Free registration required. | Details

Met Opera | Puccini’s La Rondine. Starring Angela Gheorghiu, Lisette Oropesa, Roberto Alagna, Marius Brenciu, and Samuel Ramey, conducted by Marco Armiliato. Production by Nicolas Joël. From January 10, 2009. | Details

Sunday 18

Toronto Summer Music Festival | Beethoven Sonatas (Part 1) — 2 p.m. ET. First of five by Jonathan Crow and Philip Chiu, performing a complete cycle of Beethoven’s Sonatas for Piano and Violin, plus a new composition in each show. Beethoven — Sonata for Piano and Violin, No. 1 in D Major, Op.12; Reena Esmail — When the Violin; and Beethoven — Sonata for Piano and Violin, No. 5 in F Major, Op. 24 “Spring.” Free, no registration required. | Details

Met Opera | Puccini’s Turandot. Starring Nina Stemme, Anita Hartig, Marco Berti, and Alexander Tsymbalyuk, conducted by Paolo Carignani. Production by Franco Zeffirelli. From January 30, 2016. | Details

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Jerusalem Music Centre | Murray Perahia Masterclass. A must-see for fans of piano pedagogy — and fans of the great American pianist Murray Perahia. This is one of a series of three masterclasses given recently by Perahia in the Jerusalem Music Centre, where he is the president. A recurring hand injury has reduced his performing, but his teaching is equally stimulating. Great students too!

2) Screaming Divas with Sondra and Keri | Renee Fleming. If any singer qualifies as “America’s Prima Donna” the last quarter century, it would be soprano Renee Fleming. She chats with the Screaming Divas about her stellar career, life under COVID, and all sorts of other fun stuff.

3) Wigmore Hall | Stephen Hough. A performance from June 2020, streamed last week (July 8) and now on demand for 30 days, British pianist Stephen Hough plays a program of works by Bach and Schumann.

4) Tafelmusik | Café Counterculture. This program is back and it is now free! Café Counterculture “combines Tafelmusik’s baroque flair with arrangements of ’60s folk favourites by Joni Mitchell, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Simon and Garfunkel.” It features Elisa Citterio, violin; Marco Cera, oboe; Dominic Teresi, bassoon; and Charlotte Nediger, harpsichord, with guests Alex Samaras, vocalist and Andrew Downing, double bass/arranger. Free on demand from July 8 to August 5.

5) Royal Conservatory of Music | Music of my Life: Adrienne Clarkson. This new online series features prominent Canadians in conversation with Mervon Mehta, RCM’s Executive Director of Performing Arts, about music that is meaningful to them. In this episode, the Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, former broadcaster and former Governor General of Canada is the guest. | Details

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Joseph So
Joseph So
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