Lockdown listening: classical music and opera to stream at home

Imogen Tilden

Upcoming live streams

[NEW] The Taiwan Philharmonic are to begin performing again with three concerts that will be live-streamed from Taiwan’s National Theater and Concert Hall. The first, on Sunday 24 May at 19.30 Taiwan time (12.30pm BST), features Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, and Tyzen Hsiao; on Saturday 30 May at 19.30 (12.30pm BST) the orchestra will perform music by Mozart and Dvorak, and on Friday 12 June 19:30 (12:30 BST) the programme is Beethoven’s 5th and 7th symphonies.

• [NEW] Larger, socially distanced groups have continued to be permitted in Sweden, allowing the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra (albeit in a reduced form) to continue to perform to an empty hall. Weekly concerts are streamed live and available on demand for a year. On 20 May you can hear Nina Stemme perform Wagner’s Wesendonck Liede, on 27 May clarinettist Martin Fröst is soloist and also conductor in a programme of Piazzolla, Copland and Beethoven. Check the calendar for the next live-streamed concerts. Past highlights include Janine Jansen’s Bach, or Tchaikovsky’s glorious Serenade for Strings.

• [NEW] The Czech Phil’s third benefit concert – featuring an all-Mozart programme – will be live streamed on Facebook at 7pm BST on Saturday 23 May.

The annual English music festival will take place online this year with performances and talks (some pre-recorded) available over the festival weekend, 22 – 25 May 2020. Artists include Roderick Williams, Paul Guinery, Hilary Davan Wetton, Joseph Spooner and Ensemble Hesperi.

• Outstanding young artists are live-streaming concerts from their homes via recitalstream.org, that features two or three new events each week. Check the schedule for the next concert.

Operas and concerts on demand

[UPDATED] On 22 May (and then available on demand) the Philharmonia Orchestra will be streaming a 2017 Royal Festival Hall concert in which Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted Mahler’s third symphony. A “watch party” will feature five players who took part in the 2017 performance available online to chat and answer questions from during or after the stream. Also already available is an historic June 1970 performance, under Otto Klemperer, of Beethoven’s choral symphony with soloists including mezzo Janet Baker.

• [UPDATED] The Royal Opera House is streaming a new a ballet or opera production on their Facebook and YouTube channels (then available on demand for several weeks). A stunning 2009 revival of Richard Eye’s Traviata with Renee Fleming, Joseph Calleja and Thomas Hampson is currently on offer, coming up – on 22 May - is Joyce DiDonato in Massenet’s Cendrillon. Puccini’s Il trittico comes online on 5 June, David McVicar’s much-loved staging of The Magic Flute on 19 June. More ROH content is available on Marquee TV (see below).

• Watch one of the highlights of last year’s Proms season – the Aurora orchestra’s imaginative and thrilling staging of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. The performance is the first in the orchestra’s new “Aurora Play” series that will see new content each week alongside introductions by conductor Nicholas Collon and other special guests.

• Established opera streaming platform operavision.eu has a rich archive of productions from across Europe all available free. New productions are coming every three or four days (check here). You can also watch via their YouTube channel. May sees a celebration of Russian opera, with Komische Oper Berlin’s Eugene Onegin, Moscow State Stanislavsky Music Theatre’s Queen of Spades and Dutch National Opera’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (from 12 May) among the offerings.

France TV, the French public national television broadcaster, has a classical music and opera channel with some great content including (at time of writing) Purcell’s Indian Queen, staged by Opera Lille with Concert d’Astrée and Emmanuelle Haïm, and a Robert Wilson staging of Turandot.

European cultural streaming platform Arte (which also hosts the fabulous Hope@Homesee below) has regularly changing content from opera houses across Europe. Current highlights include Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice at the Opéra Comique in Paris, Turandot in a production for Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu, and Piazolla’s tango opera Maria de Buenos Aires, a 2019 production from Opéra National du Rhin.

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic is adding videos of past concerts to Facebook twice a week. Some have a specially-recorded introduction by chief conductor Vasily Petrenko. There’s also, in the Live From Liverpool Philharmonic Hall series, there are previously unreleased audio recordings of past concerts.

Scottish Opera’s world premiere production of Anthropocene by Stuart MacRae and Louise Welsh is available until mid July via OperaVision. Read our four-star review here.

• Ghent’s Opera Ballet Vlaanderen has productions including 2013’s Parsifal, winner of International Opera’s Best Wagner Anniversary Production (and which featured 250 litres of fake blood). And if you want to venture a little off opera’s beaten track, there’s Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sadko and Halévy’s La Juive. Their content is also available via OperaVision.

• The New York Philharmonic is broadcasting past concerts every Thursday at 7.30pm EST (12.30am BST) on Facebook and YouTube. Several feature specially recorded introductions by Alec Baldwin who chats to the soloists (including Renée Fleming and Yo Yo Ma, all in their respective homes of course). Full details at nyphil.org/playson, where there’s lots of content from its April Mahler festival celebrating its former music director.

The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their acclaimed Bach Cantata Pilgrimage with a new cantata every Sunday on their YouTube channel, selected to match the liturgical calendar. The series kicked off with BWV 67 Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ, composed for the the first Sunday after Easter, and first performed on 16 April 1724. It’s audio only, but EBS leader Kati Debretzeni has recorded a lovely introduction, and there’s listening notes from John Eliot Gardiner. More information here. There’s plenty of other music to explore on the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra’s YouTube channel, including Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, recorded in 2017 in Venice’s historic Teatro La Fenice, and his Vespro della Beata Vergine recorded in the Palace of Versailles.

• New music specialists the London Sinfonietta’s digital channel features interviews with many of its commissioned composers, performance guides and performances of short works by composers including Steve Reich and Harrison Birtwistle, as well as Tansy Davies and Nick Drake’s recent chamber opera Cave.

• There’s a new concert each night – the “concert du jour” (available for 24 hours only) – plus a great selection of on-demand content from the Philharmonie de Paris, including Samstag, from Stockhausen’s Licht opera cycle, and Hans Krása’s children’s opera, Brundibar – plus jazz, chamber music and masterclasses. A well-designed search facility helps you navigate the wide variety of music.

• Each evening at 7.30pm EST, New York’s Metropolitan Opera is also streaming a past production from its award-winning Live in HD series. Each opera is available to stream, free, for 23 hours. More details on @MetOpera.

• Violinist Isabelle Faust live-streamed a solo Bach recital on 5 April from Leipzig’s Thomaskirche, the church where JS Bach was Kapellmeister from 1723 until his death in 1750. The spine-tingling 60-minute concert is on Arte.tv, free to view until 4 July.

• Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra has a huge array of past concerts to watch, organised by composer (including a Beethoven and a Mahler symphony cycle), by conductor (well represented are former chief conductors Bernard Haitink, Mariss Jansonsand, Daniele Gatti; plus Andris Nelsons and Ivan Fischer – (although women on the Concertgebouw podium are conspicuous by their absence), and soloists. There are also conducting masterclasses, portraits of the orchestra’s members, and documentaries – enough to keep you engaged for weeks to come.

• The Dutch National Opera has on its YouTube channel the world premiere production of William Jeth’s Ritratto, which was never actually publicly performed. There’s also, currently, Richard Jones’s production of Janácek’s Cunning Little Vixen (with costumes by Anthony McDonald). Content changes regularly.

• The Melbourne Recital Centre has a range of performances from the past few years of predominantly Australian performers and repertoire in an admirably easy-to-navigate site.

Garsington Opera has made available its 2019 production of Smetana’s Bartered Bride in a staging our critic declared “full of charm and wit”, as well as its Nozze di Figarocaptured in 2017.

• Brussels’s famous opera house La Monnaie has curated a “virtual season” with seven recent productions (including Tristan und Isolde, Aida, Dusapin’s specially-commissioned Macbeth Underworld, and a hallucinogenic La Gioconda). Not all the surtitles are in English – try this database of librettos to gen up). You can also access the same content on its YouTube channel.

• The Bavarian State Opera (Bayerische Staatsoper) is livestreaming a chamber music concert each Monday evening, which is then available on demand for a fortnight. The first, featuring Christian Gerhaher, the Schumann Quartet, and pianist Igor Levit was watched by almost 50,000 live. Check the schedule here.

• The EU-wide Early Music Day was, of course, online-only this year but featured live streamed concerts that can all be watched on demand alongside plenty of previous concerts and shorter performances. Don’t miss Steven Devine’s performance of Bach’s 48 Preludes and Fugues on the harpsichord at the York Early Music Centre, or if you need a lift, Bach’s Toccata and Fugue (other Baroque composers are available) arranged for four very nimble-fingered recorder players.

• The Gstaad Menuhin Festival and Academy has an online space where you can watch performances, backstage interviews and masterclasses from previous festivals. Registration is required, but this will also enable the non-German speakers among us to access the English-language version of the written content.

Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal’s Intermission series features a regularly updated selection of past concerts each available for two or three days.

Deutsche Oper Berlin has a regularly changing programme of past productions available on demand. Check for details.

• The audio stream of Missy Mizzoli’s Breaking the Waves (which was at the Edinburgh international festival last year) captured in Opera Philadelphia’s premiere production in September 2016 is available via a Soundcloud embed.

• Arts and culture streaming platform Marquee TV is offering a 14-day trial period, giving free access to a huge range of theatre and ballet productions and a large and varied collection of operas that includes most of Glyndebourne festival’s recent productions (from Brett Dean’s Hamlet to Jonathan Kent’s glorious staging of Purcell’s Fairy Queen, bonking bunnies and all). Other must-sees include Arvo Pärt’s Adam’s Passion, and Opera North’s award-winning production of Jonathan Dove’s children’s opera, Pinocchio, and one of the greatest opera events of the last decade: Aldeburgh festival’s outdoor production of Peter Grimes, staged on the beach where Britten’s opera is set. Registration (and thus credit card details) are required to activate the free trial period, but you can cancel anytime.

• The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra has a wide array of past concerts on demand and will be adding more regularly. Of many wonderful concerts, try Daniel Barenboim’s joyful performance of Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto under the baton of Mariss Jansons (from November 2017), or watch its celebrated and much missed chief conductor Jansons conducting Bruckner’s Mass No 3 F minor.

Opera North’s acclaimed semi-staged Ring cycle from 2016 is available on its website. The 2017 production of Trouble in Tahiti is available via Now TV and Sky on-demand services, and, on operavision (more of which below) you can watch its production of Britten’s Turn of the Screw, recorded live on 21 February 2020.

• The Teatro Massimo in Palermo has several concerts and recent opera productions recorded live available to watch on demand. At the time of writing the operas include Madame Butterfly, La Traviata, a Barber of Seville (check out the witty animated opening) and a Cav and a Pag. And there’s more to come, we are promised.

The Teatro Regio’s YouTube channel, Opera on the Sofa, is making available past productions from the historic Turin theatre. The opening offering is Nabucco, staged last February, and there’s also Madama Butterfly, La Sonnambula and a Carmen.

Vienna State Opera is making a different opera available to watch each day via its streaming platform. There’s also a large archive of previous ballet and opera productions that can be watched with a subscription.

• Many UK organisations live stream concerts and make them available via YouTube or other channels. Check out Wigmore Hall, which has a huge selection of its past chamber music concerts free to watch, or try the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s YouTube channel or Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

• Part of its new portal, Lincoln Center at Home, the New York arts venue is posting on Facebook past concerts from its Live from the Lincoln series. Highlights include Jaap van Zweden conducting the New York Philharmonic in Act 1 of Die Walküre, Mahler 5, or Joshua Bell’s Seasons of Cuba. Check for regular additions.

• The Academy of Ancient Music’s Streaming Sunday sees a new concert uploaded each week that you can watch on their YouTube channel. Scotland’s Dunedin Consort has on Facebook a recent all-Bach programme recorded at Washington DC’s Library of Congress.

• The London Philharmonic Orchestra launched LPonline with a remarkable performance of a movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 10 led by Anne-Sophie Mutter from Munich, with her fellow musicians in Tonbridge, Pimlico and Barnes. More content includes listening guides, Spotify playlists and even a chance for the violas to shine.

• The London Mozart Players’ “At Home” series features a daily changing selection of imaginatively-curated streams, workshops, family-friendly broadcasts and even live recitals. Check its YouTube channel or its website.

The London Symphony Orchestra is streaming full-length concerts on Sunday and Thursday evenings on its YouTube channel. Each performance will be available up to midnight (UK time) on the day of broadcast, and thereafter on streaming site Stingray Classica (currently offering a free 30-day trial).

• [NEW] Chineke! Orchestra’s concert (Coleridge-Taylor, Bruch and Beethoven) from Sunday 23 February 2020 has just been made available on YouTube. It was filmed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, was conducted by Fawzi Haimor and featured Tai Murray as soloist.

Easter music

English Touring Opera has uploaded its staging of Bach’s St John Passion which premiered in London on 5 March 2020 and had been due to tour across the UK featuring local choirs. The broadcast weaves together footage of the live performance at the Hackney Empire, with 90 individual video contributions made by choir members in isolation from Cumbria to Cornwall who were due to participate in performances across the country.

• An abridged version of Bach’s oratorio St Matthew Passion, with Streetwise Opera (who work with people affected by homelessness) and The Sixteen, is available to watch on YouTube. It was filmed live at Campfield Market, Manchester, in March 2016.

• You can also watch The Sixteen’s performance of James MacMillan’s Stabat Mater in the Sistine Chapel from April 2018.

Newly created content on social media

Gramophone magazine’s charity gala on Sunday 10 May featured musicians including Lise Davidsen, Stephen Hough, Víkingur Ólafsson, Rachel Podger and Ian Bostridge performing from their homes. You can catch up with it on demand until 11.59pm on 17 May.

• The Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s Sunday Sounds series each week features a different RSNO musician performing from their home live at 3pm. Watch here, rsno.org.uk/Sunday, on Facebook or YouTube. There’s also new concerts from previous years made available to watch each Friday – check www.rsno.org.uk/rsno-online/ or the Glasgow orchestra’s YouTube channel.

• Outstanding young artists are live-streaming concerts from their homes on this impressive new platform, recitalstream.org/ Concerts are then available on demand for a fortnight. It’s free, but donations – that go direct to the performers - are welcome.

• [NEW] What’s lockdown life like in Nottingham with Britain’s most musical family (or at least surely a prime contender for the title)? Have a peek inside the Kanneh-Mason household with regular Facebook live streams featuring short performances from cellist Sheku and his siblings. Don’t miss their scratch chamber orchestra arrangement of the first movement of Beethoven’s third concerto – a work that Isata had been due to perform at the Royal Albert Hall on 18 April.

• Violinist Elena Urioste and her pianist husband Tom Poster are posting short clips each day of their performances of anything from Mozart to Messiaen, Nat King Cole to nursery rhymes. Don’t miss the Come on Eileen/Toxic/Baby Shark mashup, or their themed costumes to match the music. Send in your requests, and drop in to #UriPosteJukeBox to brighten your day. Wonderful stuff.

• Violinist Daniel Hope’s hugely successful Hope at Home series has come to an end but you can catch them all 30+ episodes on demand via the ARTE Concert website.

• Every evening at 6.30pm BST there’s a live organ recital from Worcester Cathedral on Facebook Live.

• Pianist Igor Levit has now finished his two month run of nightly house concerts on Twitter (52 concerts), but you can still catch up with his wonderful series of mini recitals.

• Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is playing short pieces that give him comfort and is posting them regularly on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Search hashtag #SongsofComfort.

• Fellow cellist Gautier Capuçon, on lockdown in Paris, is posting daily doses of Bach on Twitter.

• And Alisa Weilerstein has embarked on a #36daysofBach project – each day a different movement of Bach’s six Cello Suites will be streamed on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Bass Matthew Rose and cellist Steven Isserlis are introducing each other to new music each day on Twitter. Follow their dialogue and listen to their choices (here’s the first one).

Ivan Fischer and musicians from his Budapest Festival Orchestra are live streaming chamber concerts in a series they have called Quarantine Soirées. Check the website for details.

Critics’ daily picks

Week eight: lushness from Renée Fleming and a torrid thriller from Korngold
Week seven slo-mo Pärt, a glorious Figaro and Beethoven’s tenth (yes really)
Week six: Dancing horses and bonking bunnies
Week five: Stockhausen’s devilish Saturday and a Beethoven marathon
Week four: Klemperer’s Choral symphony, a world premiere and splendidly sinister Britten
Week three: A charismatic Don Giovanni and ear-bending new sounds from Australia
Week two: Argerich, Aida and Hans Abrahamsen
Week one: Igor Levit, Il Trovatore and the Berlin Phil