Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Plácido Domingo, Aida Garifullina Headline Top 10 Operas to Stream This Week

By David Salazar

More options, more variety. That is what is going on with the release of more streams from more companies. This week’s recommendations features the best mix of classical performances, traditional operas, and new works to engage the widest range of audience.

Eugene Onegin – Opera Vision / Komische Oper Berlin (NOW)

OperaVision kicks off its Russian festival in May with arguably the most beloved of all Russian operas. While Barrie Kosky is always a major curiosity for any opera lover, what makes this particular showcase standout is Asmik Grigorian as Tatiana. As one of the most fascinating rising stars, this is a rare opportunity to engage with her artistry.

Agrippina – Boston Baroque Live – (NOW)

Handel’s comic work was a big hit earlier this season at the Metropolitan Opera, so there is some momentum for this performance by Boston Baroque. Boasting a solid cast led by Susanna Phillips, David Hansen, Amanda Forsythe, Ken Deas, and Martin Pearlman at the podium. Baroque fans rejoice.

The Merry Widow – Opera Australia (NOW)

Opera Australia launched its own streaming platform with the intent of highlighting the country’s biggest opera icon, Dame Joan Sutherland. For this first week, the company will showcase a 1988 performance of the Léhar operetta with Sutherland in the title role. Richard Bonynge conducts. Opera lovers the world over have long adored “La Stupenda’s” vocal fireworks. Comparing her studio and live recordings, there is always an added flare in her live performances, so this is yet another opportunity to have that experience.

OtelloTeatro alla Scala (May 4)

This performance from La Scala’s 2001-02 season features Plácido Domingo in one of his final productions of Verdi’s fame character, a role that he dominated for several decades as its chief interpreter. He is flanked by Barbara Frittoli in one of her finest interpretations of her career and Leo Nucci, one of the great Verdians. And then there’s Riccardo Muti, who dominates this very work. The fact that he adds the French version of the concertato adds to the interest factor of this performance for those unfamiliar with this edition of the score.

ErnaniTeatro dell’Opera di Roma (May 5, 2020)

From one Verdi opera to another. This time audiences can check out the early Verdi classic with a solid cast consisting of Verdi specialists. Most will likely be attracted by the star power of Ildar Abdrazakov as Silva, but the really star attractions here are Luca Salsi as Carlo and Tatiana Serjan as Elvira. Francesco Meli is also a fine complement in the title role.

Pelléas et Mélisande –  Vienna State Opera  (May 7)

Debussy’s opera is one of the most fascinating in the repertory for those that both love it and for those that can’t quite come to grips with it. Vienna is offering up a few opportunities to re-engage with the work, always a promising proposition. This performance’s cast includes Franz-Josef Selig, Bernarda Fink, Adrian Eröd, Simon Keenlyside, Olga Bezsmertna, and Maria Nazarova. Keenlyside is the one to keep the eyes out on.



La BohèmeMetropolitan Opera (May 8)

Back in 1977, the Metropolitan Opera tried out a little experiment in which it would broadcast a live performance to audiences on television. It eventually became a massive hit for the company and for years thereafter, the Met would broadcast major performances on television for audiences to behold. The Live in HD series is a spiritual sequel to that initial experience and a major part of the operatic landscape today. That 1977 broadcast was Puccini’s “La Bohème” and it starred Luciano Pavarotti and Renata Scotto. Simply watching this showcase is akin to reliving a historic moment.

The Presence of Odradek – Bare Opera  (May 10)

So we move from the old to the new, historic to historic. Bare Opera will showcase the world premiere of a new experimental opera by David Rosenmeyer and Malena Dayen. If the COVID-19 outbreak has taught us anything, it is that music reigns supreme and that opera transcends the stage, the screen, and yes, the internet. This experiment will undeniably be interesting as it is the latest in a string of similar attempts by other opera companies. Will the online opera endure? This is the time to start finding out.

We Shall Not Be Moved – Opera Philadelphia – (May 10)

Opera Philadelphia’s streaming program is the ultimate bit of counter-programming. Whereas a lot of companies are showcasing a mix of their classical productions, with some modern interjections, Opera Philadelphia is throwing out that rule book (with one exception) and placing the focus on modern operas. This week’s selection “We Shall Not Be Moved” is but the second in its series and an opportunity to see what the organization has been building over the last few years with its festival.

Teatro Colón – Aida Garifullina in Concert (May 10)

We end this week’s recommendations with a shift from opera to concert performance. Soprano Aida Garifullina is one of the major stars in the opera world and the Teatro Colón arguably its most beautiful proscenium. This concert was enthusiastically received back in Buenos Aires when it took place and the stream will provide audiences worldwide with an opportunity to see why.