Jonas Kaufmann, Joyce DiDonato, Russell Thomas Headline Top 10 Operas to Stream This WeekBy David Salazar
The good news? Some countries are starting to slowly opening up their doors as they transition out of the lockdown. But that’s not to say that everyone is rushing outside (nor should they). This means that there’s still a lot of time to stay indoors and a lot of opera to fill in those hours.
As with the last few weeks, the choices remain rather generous, making it truly challenging to limit it to just 10. But here they are, in all their eclectic glory.
Aging Magician – Beth Morrison Projects (NOW)
This work was set to be showcased in San Diego this season but was ultimately canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Fortunately, Beth Morrison Project is now streaming the unique music-theatre piece on its official website. It is a unique operatic experience that aims to reach a wider range of audience who not only thrill in musical passion, but also visual spectacle; there are some truly striking images that likely work best in the theater, but are still well-captured in the recording.
La Clemenza di Tito – LA Opera (NOW)
While this is an audio recording of the Mozart gem, LA Opera’s stream of the work isn’t without some visual elements, using stills to situate the context of the music, but also providing subtitles to allow them to engage with the work more directly. So while you won’t really get a chance to see the acting taking place, there is enough to allow your imagination to piece something together. The musical performance, led by a fearless Russell Thomas, is quite exemplary and definitely worth the visual compromise.
La Traviata – Opera Australia (NOW)
While Joan Sutherland is the centerpiece of Opera Australia’s new streaming offerings, one can’t ignore more modern productions that it is also showcasing. At the moment, the company’s “La Traviata” at Sydney Harbour is the main spectacle of focus and it is undeniably something special to watch, if only to engage with the spacious atmosphere of its open-air hall.
Werther – Metropolitan Opera (May 11)
I think you could have gone in any number of directions for this week’s Met Opera offerings. But of the seven options on the table this week, there is perhaps no richer combination of the visual and musical than Jonas Kaufmann’s “Werther,” arguably his finest hour on the Met stage to date. It’s a visceral performance that not only showcases the German tenor’s musical virtuosity, but also his immersion into the role; there has perhaps never been a role that Kaufmann has captured so intensely in all its facets. He’s joined by Sophie Koch in her iconic portrayal of Charlotte, and Lisette Oropesa as Sophie. It’s one of the best live in HD broadcast in Met history.
Lady M – Heartbeat Opera (May 11-16)
Everyday this week, you can get a chance to check out this online fantasia from one of the opera world’s unique and experimental companies. With each virtual soirée, audiences will be getting a chance to glimpse the company’s project and get a live performance from cast members. It might not be a more traditional opera-going experience, but it will be like nothing you’ve seen before.
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk – Dutch National Opera and Ballet / OperaVision (May 12)
Shostakovich’s masterpiece will be showcased on OperaVision. The work boasts a cast headlined by Eva-Maria Westbroek in her signature portrayal, Christopher Ventris, and Ludovit Ludha, among others. The late Mariss Jansons conducts, adding to the importance of this particular performance.
The Magic Flute – Pacific Opera Project (May 13)
For those of you who are looking for an opera to introduce to your non-opera-loving friends, this is not a bad place to start. First off, the frame of this showcase will be a unique watch party, which is sure to engage them on some level.
But then the opera itself should offer up something for everyone. Even those who have never played a video game know who Super Mario is and about the world he inhabits. They’ve probably heard of The Legend of Zelda and its characters. That is to say, this is definitely something that almost anyone can enjoy, if only out of mere curiosity on how an opera from the late 1700s gets married to a phenomenon that comes around almost 200 years later.
Die Walküre – Vienna State Opera (May 15)
Wagner’s tetralogy will be streaming between May 14-18 and we would recommend all of four for a cohesive and unique viewing experience. But if you can only do one, especially considering all the opera options out there, then it has to be the second episode in the saga. In this performance, audiences get to here a splendid cast headlined by Tomasz Konieczny and Iréne Theorin, two of the great Wagnerians today. Other cast members include Christopher Ventris, Jongmin Park, Simone Schneider, and Michaela Schuster.
Wozzeck – Opernhaus Zürich (May 15-17)
For those craving some 20th century opera, Opernhaus Zürich will present arguably THE opera of the 20th century in Berg’s masterwork. Christian Gerhaher takes on the title role, but perhaps most interesting to observe is the conducting of Fabio Luisi. A fantastic interpreter of Italian opera, Luisi has shown himself to be a chameleon-like musician in other repertory, adapting his style to its needs, often to excellent results. Few conductors today can truly boast of his versatility. The opera also stars Brandon Jovanovich and Gun-Brit Barkmin.
I Capuletti e I Montecchi – San Francisco Opera (May 16)
If you want to luxuriate in melodious pleasures, then this Bellini opera will do the trick. It’s not performed as often as it should be, which makes the opportunity to stream it all the more pertinent. Throw in the star turns from Nicole Cabell and Joyce DiDonato and you have the ideal cast to truly appreciate the melodic gems it holds.