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CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical And Opera Streams You Absolutely Need To See This Week: July 19 – 25

By Joseph So on July 19, 2021

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of July 19 – 25.
Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of July 19 – 25.

Critic’s Picks (July 19 – 25)

“We live in an extraordinary Age” — Carl Sagan. The late spring/early summer 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, as reported on Opera Wire and elsewhere. Audiences can expect various heath precautions, possibly including proof of vaccination. At the Paris Opera last March, a negative COVID test within 48 hours was required for admission. Sadly, a new COVID surge is happening as I write in the UK and several European countries, making the reopening even more challenging. Music fans will just have to sit tight and see how things transpire in the coming months.

On this side of the Atlantic, the big news is the 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. Of the three major unions at the Met, two of three are settled. Let us hope this paves the way to a reopening in the fall. One more piece of Met news — the Met will require mandatory audience vaccination for the 2021-22 season. Given the troubling signs of a Delta variant-driven surge in cases, the Met policy may prove to be prudent.

Elsewhere in North America, the Santa Fe Opera has reopened on July 10, with an in-house, socially distanced audience, plus nightly simulcast in its lower parking lot. The Chicago Lyric Opera presents a film of Pagliacci in August starring Russell Thomas and Ailyn Perez. Also taking place are the Tanglewood and Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer festivals, 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 is putting 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. The big news at the Toronto Summer Music Festival (July 15 – August 1) is the announcement of a week of in-person concerts (July 26 – 31). 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. A more detailed announcement will come on August 16.

All good things must come to an end. This week’s free streaming from the Met, its 72nd week, will be its last, a phenomenal record during the pandemic. This service has generated enormous goodwill from the viewing public, and the Met is giving them a final say — the theme of the final week of streaming is “Viewers’ Choice,” with performances voted on by the viewers. 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. Let’s hope the recent surge of 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 19

Toronto Summer Music Festival | Beethoven Sonatas Part 2 — 7:30 p.m. ET. Violinist Jonathan Crow and pianist Philip Chiu perform Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano and Violin, No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 12; Kevin Lau — If Life Were a Mirror; and Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano and Violin, No. 7 in C minor, Op. 30. | Details

Met Opera | Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Starring Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Susanne Mentzer, Dwayne Croft, and Bryn Terfel, conducted by James Levine. Production by Jonathan Miller. From November 11, 1998. | Details

Tuesday 20

Toronto Summer Music Festival | Midsummer Melodies — 7:30 p.m. ET. Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka has cancelled due to illness. In her place are soprano Jamie Groot, mezzo Simona Genga, tenor Asitha Tennekoon, and baritone Clarence Frazer, joined by collaborative pianist Steven Philcox, in songs by Schubert, Wolf, Strauss, Mahler, Dvořák, Finzi, Butterworth, Jake Heggie and Derek Holman. | Details

Met Opera | Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. Starring Tatiana Troyanos, Jean Kraft, Plácido Domingo, and Vern Shinall; Teresa Stratas, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, and Allan Monk, conducted by James Levine. Production by Franco Zeffirelli. From April 5, 1978. | Details

Wednesday 21

Met Opera | Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles. Starring Diana Damrau, Matthew Polenzani, Mariusz Kwiecień, and Nicolas Testé, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. Production by Penny Woolcock. From January 16, 2016. | Details

Thursday 22

Toronto Summer Music Festival | Echo Chamber Toronto — 7:30 p.m. ET. Echo Chamber Toronto combines chamber music with contemporary dance. The Rosebud String Quartet is joined by a group of dancers in a program of works by Schubert, Beethoven, Britten, plus contemporary composers Caroline Shaw and Carmen Braden. | Details

Met Opera | Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Starring Erin Morley, Hibla Gerzmava, Kate Lindsey, Christine Rice, Vittorio Grigolo, and Thomas Hampson, conducted by Yves Abel. Production by Bartlett Sher. From January 31, 2015. | Details

Friday 23

Toronto Summer Music Festival | Romantic Inspirations — 7:30 p.m. ET. Mayumi Seiler, violin; Jonathan Crow, violin; Juan-Miguel Hernandez, viola; Rémi Pelletier, viola; Rachel Mercer, cello; Adrian Fung, cello; Philip Chiu, piano; Asitha Tennekoon, tenor; Neil Deland, horn; and Michael McMahon, piano, in a program of works by Wagner, Schubert, Brahms, and Louise Ferenc. | Details

Met Opera | Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment. Starring Natalie Dessay, Felicity Palmer, Juan Diego Flórez, and Alessandro Corbelli, conducted by Marco Armiliato. Production by Laurent Pelly. From April 26, 2008. | Details

Saturday 24

San Francisco Opera | Elektra — 1 p.m. ET. A performance from 2017 with soprano Christine Goerke in the title role, joined by Adrianne Pieczonka (Chrysothemis), Michaela Martens (Klytaemnestra), Alfred Walker (Orest), and Robert Brubaker (Aegisth), conducted by Henrik Nánási. Available until Monday 3 am. Free, registration required. | Details

Met Opera | Verdi’s Il Trovatore. Starring Anna Netrebko, Dolora Zajick, Yonghoon Lee, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Marco Armiliato. Production by David McVicar. From October 3, 2015. | Details

Sunday 25

Toronto Summer Music Festival | Beethoven Sonatas Part 3 — 2 p.m. ET. Violinist Jonathan Crow and pianist Philip Chiu play Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano and Violin, No. 2 in A Major, Op. 12 and Sonata for Piano and Violin, No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47 “Kreutzer,” as well as “Peace” by Jessie Montgomery. | Details

Met Opera | Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera. Starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Kathleen Kim, Stephanie Blythe, Marcelo Álvarez, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Fabio Luisi. Production by David Alden. From December 8, 2012. | Details

Video-on-demand performances:

1) Royal Opera House Covent Garden | Danielle de Niese Masterclass. Premiered June 21 and now on demand, Australian-American soprano Danielle de Niese teaches a masterclass with three artists of the ROH’s National Opera Studio (Judith Le Breuilly, Thomas Hopkinson and Monica McGhee), performing arias by Mozart, Rossini, Strauss, Verdi and Massenet.

2) Wigmore Hall | Lady Antonia Fraser. Acclaimed author/biographer Lady Antonia Fraser discusses her lifelong love of music and literature with author/broadcaster Hugo Vickers. Her most famous book, Mary Queen of Scots, is now 52 years old! This event also features a performance of ‘Lady Antonia’s Songs’, a collection of four new songs composed by Stephen Hough, set to text by Lady Antonia, performed by mezzo Kitty Whately and pianist Simon Lepper.

3) Royal Conservatory of Music | Music of my Life Series (Ep. 4): A Conversation with Mervon Mehta. RCM Professor Peter Simon interviews Mervon Mehta, son of celebrated conductor Zubin Mehta, former actor, and ED of Performing Arts at RCM. An interesting interview! | Details

4) Théâtre antique d’Orange | Samson et Dalila. Performed on July 10 and now free on demand, this performance stars Roberto Alagna and Canadian mezzo Marie-Nicole Lemieux, conducted by fellow Canadian Yves Abel. If you are wondering why there were so few masks and no social distancing, it was because opera houses in France (Bastille, Palais Garnier, Aix-en-Provence and others) require proof of vaccination for admittance. | Details

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Joseph So
Joseph So
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