Jonas Kaufmann, Joyce DiDonato, Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland & The Top 10 Operas to Stream This Week

By David Salazar
(Credit: Bill Cooper / Marty Sohl)

Even though reopening plans are in full effect, there are still several opera companies streaming performances online. So with the lockdown very much in flux, here are 10 operas we think you should check out this week.

Don Giovanni – Glyndebourne (Streaming Now)

Last week, the Glyndebourne Festival kicked off its streaming service with the first of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas. This week’s offering is “Don Giovanni” with a rock-solid cast headlined by Gerald Finley and Luca Pisaroni. Other cast members include Anna Samuil,  Kate Royal William Burden, Brindley Sherratt, Anna Virovlansky, and Guido Loconsolo.

Ellen West – Beth Morrison Projects (Streaming Now)

One of the crowning achievements of the 2020 Prototype Festival, this work is not only renowned for its dramatic and musical brilliance, but for the creative team behind it. Lidiya Yankovskaya conducts a cast headlined by Nathan Gunn and Jennifer Zetlan.

“Intense is the best descriptor for Gordon’s opera. I had the privilege of being seated next to Gordon during the performance. Afterward, I said to him that ‘Ellen West’ was a wild emotional ride. ‘It was,’ he replied,” stated OperaWire’s review of this year’s run.

Lucrezia Borgia – Opera Australia (Streaming Now)

For those who want more classic recordings, it is impossible to overlook this Joan Sutherland showcase of the famed Donizetti opera. The production includes Ron Stevens, Magreta Elkins, Graeme Ewer, and Robert Allman under the musical direction of Richard Bonynge.

Rigoletto – Opéra National de Paris (June 1)

Verdi’s middle-period masterwork will be streamed with an excellent cast featuring Michael Fabiano as the Duke, Olga Peretyatko as Gilda, and Quinn Kelsey as the title character. Claus Guth’s productions are acquired tastes but there is no denying their ability to surprise.

La Vida Breve – Palau de les Arts (June 2-4, 2020)

Given the fact that “Götterdämmerung” is also streaming this week, that would seem to be the more obvious choice. But “La Vida Breve” is not performed as often, so this is yet another opportunity to familiarize yourself with a unique opera from the repertoire. The cast includes Cristina Gallardo-Domas and Jorge de León with the late Lorin Maazel in the pit.

Trouble in Tahiti – OperaVision / Opera North (June 2, 2020) 

OperaVision will also stream “Candide” this week, but “Trouble in Tahiti” doesn’t get as much buzz or notable performances, so this is an ideal opportunity to check out this rare gem. What’s more, it has a fantastic cast headlined by Wallis Giunta and Quirijn de Lang. Tobias Ringborg conducts.

Andrea Chenier – Vienna State Opera (June 4, 2020)

Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Harteros might just be the finest opera pairing of the last decade. The two have performed countless works together over recent years and this “Andrea Chénier” is undoubtedly one of the crowning achievements of their collaborations.

ToscaMetropolitan Opera (June 4, 2020)

There are some pretty solid offerings this week from the Met, including “Thaïs” with Renée Fleming and Thomas Hampson, as well as Anna Netrebko’s famed “I Puritani.” But the pick has to go to “Tosca” with Luciano Pavarotti, Cornell MacNeil, and, of course, Shirley Verrett. Three legends on stage singing some of opera’s most passionate music. James Conlon conducting is the icing on the cake.

Il Trittico – Royal Opera House (June 5, 2020) 

Antonio Pappano leads a solid cast of singers including Eva-Maria Westbroek, Ermonela Jaho, and Lucio Gallo in leading roles of Puccini’s famed opera. Puccini’s triptych is one of the great operatic experiences and this ensemble from the ROH is as good as it gets in recent times.

Agrippina – Metropolitan Opera / PBS (June 7, 2020)

This might be considered cheating a bit since we included a Met stream already this week. But we can’t recommend “Agrippina” enough. Starring Joyce DiDonato, Kate Lindsey, and Brenda Rae, it was arguably the high point of the Met Opera’s 2019-20 season. Unlike other offerings, this showcase will be broadcast on PBS’s Great Performances, so while it might not be available to everyone, it is worth checking out for those who can see it.