Remember opera and concerts in real time, in real space? They’re creeping back. The news of the UceLi Quartet playing Puccini’s “Crisantemi” (Chrysanthemums) to a full house of 2,292 potted plants at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu went viral. The annual festival in hallowed Ravenna, in its day the seat of empire and kingdoms, led the way for a musical reawakening with a magical evening mostly devoted to Mozart. The Viennese, unsurpassed in their ardor for great musical tradition, heard favorite divas and divos in recital at the Staatsoper—and an intoxicating mix of symphonic and chamber fare at the nearby Musikverein, which in the last three weeks of June roared to life with no fewer than 43 gilt-edged concerts.
Blame social-distancing for the heart-breakingly sparse houses—seldom has attendance seemed so truly a privilege. Happily, a lot of the most exclusive current events are free to all on the internet, briefly or for an extended period. At the same time, fully staged opera from before the pandemic (often decades before) continues to stream in overwhelming profusion. Here are some options for the discerning music lover’s consideration.