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.
From Ravenna, online through late July
The inaugural concert of the Ravenna Festival was recorded live on June 23. Riccardo Muti led his Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra in heaven-sent Mozart, concluding with the Jupiter Symphony. Rosa Feola is the radiant soprano for the motet “Exsultate, jubilate” and the solo “Et incarnatus est,” from the Mass in C minor, KV 427. Another highlight already posted is Handel’s Il Trionfo del tempo e del disinganno—high-minded moral allegory, clothed in baroque splendor of the composer’s Roman period. Coming this week: Valery Gergiev leads the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra in an all-Beethoven program; Fabio Petretti and the Italian Jazz Orchestra pay tribute to Federico Fellini; and the early-music ensemble La Fonte Musica offers “O Oriens” (O Rising Sun), a program of 15th-century sacred selections, at the Basilica di San Vitale, one of this gemlike city’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. (ravennafestival.live)
Through August 28 Mussorgsky, Boris Godunov, Sofia Opera and Ballet. From the creator of Sorochintsy Fair, the epic of a conscience-stricken medieval tsar with much for his conscience to be stricken about. Staged outdoors in front of St. Alexander Nevsky Memorial Cathedral, a backdrop not to be improved upon. Icons, too. (operavision.eu)
Through November 11 Wagner, Tristan und Isolde, La Monnaie/De Munt Brussels. Shades of Ian Fleming? The hero’s hallucinatory death scene, which consumes virtually the entire final act, finds the man caked in gold leaf. What a way to go. (operavision.eu)
For Home Schoolers and Those Who Care for Them
Through October 10 Verdi, Rigoletto for Children. Considerable sex and violence, wrapped in an hour’s worth of that rhapsodic music. This interactive TV show from Italy is designed for the participation of classroom audiences and singalong. English subtitles. (operavision.eu )