Opera Scotland

First production of Parsifal

Opportunities to enjoy opera online

Posted 10 Apr 2020

 The current coronavirus pandemic has us all in self-isolation and enduring huge frustration of various kinds.

But it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and the crisis has brought opera fans one major consolation, that of access to a large number of free-to air streamings or recordings of opera. Many of the offerings are for a limited period, but we are told that new operas are to be made available while the crisis lasts.

You will generally be invited in return to make an online contribution to the host institution or a fund for artists. Few of these sites seem to have paywalls, but please help where you can.


Offerings from European companies

Appropriately, on Good Friday Parsifal is prominent. There are even three versions to choose from: Wiener Staatsoper, Bayerisch Staatsoper and from the New York Met The home page illustration is of the first ever production at Bayreuth.

Vienna State Opera presents scheduled streams of previous productions  every Saturday at 6pm. The streams are free to view, but registration is required.

Dutch National Opera makes performances available – check out operaballet.nl/en/online.

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 – so if you don't know the plot try this database of librettos to gen up). You can also access the same content on its YouTube channel.

The Teatro Massimo in Palermo has several concerts and recent opera productions recorded live available to watch on demand.

The Teatro Regio in Turin has set up a YouTube channel Opera on the Sofa and is making available past productions from the historic theatre. The opening offering is Nabucco, staged last February.

Deutsche Oper Berlin have 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 September 2016 is available  via a Soundcloud embed.


US companies

New York’s Metropolitan Opera is streaming past productions from its award-winning Live in HD series of cinema transmissions while the opera house is closed. Productions will be available from 11.30pm GMT for 23 hours. More details on @MetOpera or metopera.org/.


UK companies 

The Royal Opera House is making available weekly ballets or operas streamed live (and then available on demand) on their Facebook and YouTube channels. 2009’s Acis and Galatea is on 3 April, 7pm (BST), the 2010 outing of Jonathan Miller’s Così fan tutte on 10 April and, on 24 April, the 2013 production of Britten’s Gloriana. More ROH content is available on Marquee TV (see below)

Opera North’s acclaimed semi-staged Ring cycle from 2016 is available on their website. Their 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 their production of Britten’s Turn of the Screw, captured live on 21 February 2020.

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


General offerings

More generally, established opera streaming platform operavision.eu has a wonderful archive of productions from across Europe all available free. The site might be short of live operas to stream at the present time, but instead it has announced an increase in its archival offerings. You can also watch via their YouTube channel.

Arts and culture streaming platform Marquee TV has extended their trial period to 30 days, giving free access to a huge array 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.


Phew! No excuses, then, at not having anything to enjoy…


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