Enjoy a feast of free Opera streamings

Opera From The Metropolitan Opera in New York

Opera buffs are in opera heaven with the Met’s series of free Nightly Opera Streams that features outstanding performances from the award-winning Live in HD series.

A great advantage for South Africans is that it is streamed nightly in the US, which means we can watch it daily until midnight!

You can watch it in subtitles and there as some fantastic backstage interviews after each viewing. Registration on the Met Opera site is free.

Week 57: Once Upon a Time

Wicked witches, fairy godmothers, and storybook princesses cast their spell in the next week of free Nightly Opera Streams. Enjoy an enchanting lineup of fairy tale–inspired operas, bookended by two charming takes on the classic Cinderella story.

Monday, April 19, Rossini’s La Cenerentola

A timeless tale told in a florid bel canto style, Rossini’s enchanting masterpiece offers an ideal showcase for a virtuosic mezzo-soprano to rocket from rags to riches. But in this retelling, the supporting characters soar just as high: Cinderella’s Prince, her stepfather, and the Prince’s valet are given memorable arias, and the composer rounds out his score with ingenious ensemble flourishes. A vivacious masterpiece, La Cenerentola brings stock fairy-tale characters to dazzling life.

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Rossini’s charming take on the Cinderella story features a brilliant cast, led by bel canto stars Joyce DiDonato in the title role and Juan Diego Flórez as her Prince Charming. Alessandro Corbelli delivers a comic tour de force as Don Magnifico, Cinderella’s stepfather. Pietro Spagnoli is Dandini, the Prince’s valet, who, disguised as his master, puts the prospective brides to the text, and Luca Pisaroni is the philosopher Alidoro, who takes the place of the fairy godmother. Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leads Cesare Lievi’s whimsical production. From May 10, 2014

Week 58: This week of free Nightly Opera Streams celebrates virtue, freedom, and the power of the human spirit. Enjoy a remarkable lineup of inspiring operas, including never-before-streamed telecasts of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra and Beethoven’s Fidelio.

Tuesday, April 20, Wagner’s Lohengrin

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This 1986 telecast performance makes the very most of Wagner’s glowing music, a lush, Romantic tale of a holy knight and the maiden who loves him.

Wagner’s opera demands singing actors who can truly inhabit their parts, and that’s just what we have here. Is it possible for a Knight of the Holy Grail to look more enticing than Peter Hofmann? No wonder Elsa (Eva Marton) falls in love at first sight. Marton’s heroine is innocent, but she is also a passionate, real-life young woman—which is good, because Leonie Rysanek is positively demented as Ortrud, the sorceress who accuses Elsa and Lohengrin of using magic. With James Levine’s superb conducting, the orchestra and chorus are similarly magical.

Wednesday, April 21, Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito

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Mozart turns an ancient Roman story of desire, betrayal, murder, and public unrest into something timeless and profound.

Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s dramatic production brings ancient Rome to life for this gripping tale of revenge, terror, and attempted murder. Giuseppe Filianoti is the Emperor Tito who chooses Servilia (Lucy Crowe) to be his Empress. But when she tells him she is already in love with Annio (Kate Lindsey) he decides to wed Vitellia (Barbara Frittoli) instead. Unaware of the honor about to be bestowed on her, Vitelllia, daughter of the deposed emperor, is determined to seek revenge on Tito and ensnares her lover Sesto (Elīna Garanča) in her dark plot. Early music specialist Harry Bicket conducts. From December 1, 2012. 

Thursday, April 22, Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West

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Puccini’s action-packed tribute to the American Wild West. Its sweeping, evocative score deftly captures the feel of a Gold Rush–era mining camp—the perfect place for a sweet-talkin’ bandit to fall for a gun-totin’ bar owner with an enormous soprano voice and a heart of gold.

Puccini’s musical vision of the American West is vividly brought to life in Giancarlo Del Monaco’s atmospheric production. Deborah Voigt is Minnie, the girl of the title and owner of a bar in a Californian mining camp. Marcello Giordani sings Dick Johnson, the bandit-turned-lover hunted by the cynical sheriff Jack Rance (Lucio Gallo), who wants Minnie for himself. Complete with whiskey-drinking cowboys, gunplay, a poker game, and a snowstorm, La Fanciulla del West is Puccini at his most colorful. From January 8, 2011. 

Friday April 23, Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra

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The title ruler of Simon Boccanegra is one of the repertory’s most compelling characters, a 14th-century Doge of Genoa, beset on all sides, juggling political adversaries bent on murder with his love for his long-lost daughter Amelia. In addition to Boccanegra’s searing internal conflict between public duty and private grief, the story offers cloak-and-dagger intrigue, passionate young love, and noble sacrifice—set to an unfailingly dramatic, enveloping score that only Verdi could have created.

Sherrill Milnes brought vivid theatrical force to his portrait of Simon Boccanegra, mixing poetry and power to reveal Boccanegra’s heart to the audience. Anna Tomowa-Sintow is the long-lost daughter he finds, but, he discovers, she loves Gabriele Adorno (Vasile Moldoveanu), a man determined to destroy him. James Levine’s superb conducting and Tito Capobianco’s dramatic production add to the gripping performance.

Saturday, April 23, Philip Glass’s Satyagraha

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Philip Glass’s Satyagraha is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and his ideology of achieving change through peaceful protest and civil disobedience. With a libretto assembled using text from the Bhagavad Gita, sung in the original Sanskrit, the opera has no concrete plot, instead layering various historical vignettes, political statements, philosophical musings, and parables to form a meditative work that is as much manifesto as music or theater. 

Set to lines from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita, Satyagraha depicts scenes (arranged thematically rather than chronologically) from the life of Gandhi as he developed his philosophy of non-violent resistance in South Africa between 1896 and 1913. Director Phelim McDermott made his debut with a production that employed everyday materials like newspaper and corrugated tin to create towering puppets and striking tableaus. In this 2011 performance, tenor Richard Croft gives a moving performance as Gandhi, leading a remarkable ensemble cast conducted by Dante Anzolini.

Sunday, April 25, Beethoven’s Fidelio

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Jürgen Flimm’s haunting production of Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio brings the work’s desperate plea for freedom and justice into the modern era, reminding us just how powerful and urgent its story is. Under James Levine’s passionate leadership, Beethoven’s score blazes, as does the superb cast. Karita Mattila is Leonore, the faithful wife who disguises herself as a man to search for her husband Florestan (Ben Heppner), unjustly imprisoned by his political enemy, Pizarro (Falk Struckmann). René Pape is Rocco, the jailor caught between conscience and duty. The work’s magnificence does not depend on psychological nuance or development but rather lies in the music’s ability to overwhelm the audience with the power of genuine emotion. From October 28, 2000.

Monday, April 26, Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites

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Since its premiere in 1957, Poulenc’s shattering drama about a group of Carmelite nuns during the French Reign of Terror has maintained its ability to shock: Its blunt final scene is about as intense and gripping as opera gets. But the opera is also disarmingly tender, with scenes of great intimacy and sweetness, and a sensitive score well suited to its almost entirely female cast. The composer’s deep-seated fascination with spiritual music enabled him to craft an opera that brilliantly conveys the power of faith and loyalty, even during one of history’s darkest moments.

To close out the 2018–19 season, Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin led a starry revival of the opera, which was also included as part of the Live in HD series of cinema transmissions. Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard is the fearful Blanche de la Force, who joins a convent of Carmelite nuns in order to escape the terrors of the French Revolution. The exceptional cast also features sopranos Erin Morley and Adrianne Pieczonka and mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill as some of Blanche’s fellow sisters, with tenor David Portillo as the protective Chevalier de la Force. Maestro Nézet-Séguin leads a gripping performance throughout—from the opera’s chaotic first bars to the chilling death scene of Madame de Croissy (sung by the incomparable Karita Mattila) to the work’s harrowing final moments.

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