For music lovers around the world, a silver lining of the pandemic was the Metropolitan Opera’s nightly stream of content from its vast video archive.
Since lockdown began, we’ve been whisked, for free, to the multiple Egypts of Aida, Akhnaten, Julius Caesar, and The Magic Flute. We’ve thrilled to Wagner’s all-encompassing Ring des Nibelungen as staged by Otto (“Once upon a time”) Schenk and Robert (“Behold the Machine!”) Lepage. We’ve cheered a skinhead Anthony Roth Costanzo as a revolutionary pharaoh (Akhnaten again, a popular favorite) and Joyce DiDonato as the lethal Agrippina, wife and mother of Roman emperors.
The glories of Mozart, Verdi, and Puccini have passed before our eyes, populated by generation upon generation of operatic royalty. We’ve lost count of the Carmens.
With live performances back on the horizon, the company turned the tap off in July. For New Yorkers, though, there’s a last fix on Monday, September 27, as the new season opens with Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, the Met’s first-ever performance of an opera by a Black composer. A historic occasion, it’s open to all comers al fresco and free of charge in a simulcast to Times Square and (another first) Marcus Garvey Park, in Harlem. Fans elsewhere can catch the show at the movies on “The Met: Live in HD” on October 28.
Meanwhile, blessedly for all who since July have been suffering from Met Deprivation Syndrome, an annual subscription to the Met Opera on Demand service runs at $149.99, or $14.99 monthly. Pennies a day, really. Beyond the full-length titles we’ve been spoiled with, the catalogue includes specials, anthologies, and documentaries, as well as vast numbers of historic radio broadcasts, all complete with track listings for easy navigation. Caveat: you may never leave your cave again.
Met Opera On Demand is available on the Met Opera Web site
Matthew Gurewitsch writes about opera and classical music for AIR MAIL. He lives in Hawaii