COVID-19 Information & News | Last updated: April 20th, 2020

Written by: Kevin Rogers [posting updates]


This article, begun April 2020, presents various updates from the Classical Music world. It contains details from organisations about how they are managing this crisis, and how you might still be able to interact with them. The links herewith, which all open in new tabs, take you to the organisations mentioned within this article. Of course, an endeavor such as this can never be comprehensive, but I shall keep adding as I receive, and as time allows. Stay safe, everyone. As H.M. The Queen said to us all, “we will meet again”.

Contents, most recent first:

Met Opera Nightly Opera Streams, week 6, April 20–26

The Met’s series of free Nightly Opera Streams continue with a week of operas both scintillating and searing. From Strauss’s thrilling psychodrama Elektra, starring Nina Stemme in a masterful staging by Patrice Chéreau, to Rossini’s La Cenerentola, an effervescent take on the Cinderella story starring Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez, it’s a lineup that runs the operatic gamut. The week also includes an unprecedented free event: Our newly announced virtual At-Home Gala on April 25, featuring more than 40 artists performing live from their homes around the world at 1PM EDT.

  • Monday, April 20 | Strauss’s Elektra
  • Tuesday, April 21 | Puccini’s Tosca
  • Wednesday, April 22 | Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann
  • Thursday, April 23 | Lehár’s The Merry Widow
  • Friday, April 24 | Viewers’ Choice: Verdi’s La traviata
  • Saturday, April 25 | Live Start Time of 1PM EDT
  • Sunday, April 26 | Rossini’s La Cenerentola
  • The Royal Ballet’s The Metamorphosis | 7 p.m. BST, April 17th

    A dark, surrealist nightmare is conjured up in Arthur Pita’s dance-theatre adaptation of Kafka’s novella, broadcast free online as part of the Royal Opera House’s #OurHouseToYourHouse series. Gregor Samsa, a travelling salesman, awakes one morning to find that he has been turned into a monstrous insect. His mother, father and younger sister respond to his transformation in very different ways.

    Arthur Pita created his award-winning dance-theatre adaptation of Franz Kafka’s 1915 novella in 2011 on The Royal Ballet Principal Edward Watson, and it was first performed in the Linbury Studio Theatre. The extraordinary choreography captures the devastation of Gregor Samsa’s transformation into a monstrous insect and his family’s struggle to accept him. Frank Moon’s evocative score and stark designs by Simon Daw become sinister and claustrophobic as Gregor’s life turns into a dark, surrealist nightmare. The Metamorphosis won a South Bank Sky Arts Award and, for his role Edward Watson won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance.

    • Royal Opera House streaming options can be found here
    • April 17th, 2020
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    Mahler’s New York – A Digital Festival | April 16th-30th

    The New York Philharmonic will present Mahler’s New York: A Digital Festival — a two-week celebration of the composer / conductor who spent time in New York as the Philharmonic’s tenth Music Director (1909–11) — April 16–30, 2020, at The festival will feature seven video broadcasts, audio of the complete symphonies, an archival exhibit, a virtual walking tour, the all-day Mahler Grooves celebration, recipes, and education materials. Philharmonic musicians will appear in video introductions to each of the ten symphonies and in performances from their homes. To approximate the experience of a live, in-person festival, content will be released over the course of the two weeks; a complete schedule is available here. Festival partners include Google Arts & Culture; Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; Neue Galerie New York, Café Sabarsky; and WQXR.

    The digital festival brings online the festival of the same name that had been scheduled to take place this month at David Geffen Hall before the 2020 European tour, where the Orchestra would have opened the Concertgebouw’s Mahler Festival as the first American orchestra in the festival’s 100-year history. All of these performances were cancelled in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

        Video broadcasts:

      • Resurrection Symphony with Leonard Bernstein in 1963 JFK Tribute: First-ever rebroadcast
      • Mahler grooves: Philharmonic Musicians Perform from Home
      • Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts
      • Symphony No. 1 with Lorin Maazel from Live From Lincoln Center
      • Kindertotenlieder with Alan Gilbert and Thomas Hampson
      • Symphony No. 7 from A Concert For Unity with Alan Gilbert
      • Audio of complete symphonies:

      • From The New York Philharmonic This Week, Hosted by Alec Baldwin
      • WQXR To Broadcast Symphony No. 1 from Jaap van Zweden’s Philharmonic Debut
      • Archival exhibit and Virtual walking tour

      • In Partnership with Google Arts & Culture
      • Mahler Grooves, April 23rd

      • Day of Activities, Culminating in Concert Broadcast
      • Mahler Eats and Mahler Drinks: Food and Cocktails
      • Mahler Draws: Mahler Caricatures
      • Mahler Spins: DJ Set with Assistant Principal Timpani / Percussionist Kyle Zerna (@dr._sweers)
      • Vienese recipes

      • In Partnership with Neue Galerie New York, Cafe Sabarsky
    • April 15th, 2020
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    Met Opera Nightly Opera Streams, week 5, April 13–19

    The Met’s series of free Nightly Opera Streams continues with a week that includes some of the biggest hits of recent seasons—as well as our very first Viewers’ Choice selection, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, starring Patricia Racette. Renée Fleming appears in two of her signature roles—as the title character of Dvořák’s Rusalka (pictured), and as the Marschallin in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier—and two more of our era’s great sopranos, Anna Netrebko and Angela Gheorghiu, headline Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur and Puccini’s La Rondine, respectively. Lovers of low voices won’t be left out, as the lineup also includes René Pape’s magnificent take on perhaps the greatest bass role of all, the tortured tsar at the heart of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov.

  • Monday, April 13 | Dvořák’s Rusalka
  • Tuesday, April 14 | Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov
  • Wednesday, April 15 | Puccini’s La Rondine
  • Thursday, April 16 | Rossini’s Le Comte Ory
  • Friday, April 17 | Puccini’s Madama Butterfly
  • Saturday, April 18 | Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur
  • Sunday, April 19 | Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier
  • Wigmore Hall | Entire video library made available

    Reaching new audiences around the world, Wigmore Hall’s past live streamed events are now available to view on demand.

    • Click here to go to Wigmore Hall’s website.
    • April 10th
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    Berlin State Opera | Daily video-on-demand programme

    Staatsoper Unter den Linden’s daily video-on demand programme. To provide you with operas and concerts over the period of the Corona virus, we have organised a programme which you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home. Listen to recordings by your favourite artists from the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. Here you will find an overview of our schedule online and a link to our daily video-on-demand offer. Our programme, which will change every day from 12 noon, is available to you 24 hours a day. We kindly ask for your understanding that for most of the videos we can’t provide english subtitles.

    Among the operas available via streaming are, for example, Richard Strauss’s »Der Rosenkavalier« in the current production by André Heller under the musical direction of Zubin Mehta, Massenet’s »Manon« from 2007 under the musical direction of Daniel Barenboim with Anna Netrebko in the title role alongside Rolando Villazón, and Furrer’s »Violetter Schnee«, which was premiered at the Berlin Staatsoper in 2019 in a production by Claus Guth under the baton of the composer featuring Anna Prohaska, Elsa Dreisig, Martina Gedeck, Gyula Orendt, Georg Nigl and Otto Katzameier, among others. The programme will also present recordings of symphony concerts by the Staatskapelle Berlin, such as the Brahms cycle from Buenos Aires, as well as ballet performances.

    • Details can be found on the Staatoper’s website by clicking here.
    • The programme includes:
      • Richard Wagner’s Parsifal, April 10th & 13th
      • Beethoven’s Piano Concertos Nos.1–5, April 11th
      • Anton Bruckner’s Symphonies 1–9, April 12th
      • Sergei Prokofiev’s The Gambler, April 14th
      • Sergei Prokofiev’s Betrothal in a Monastery, April 15th
      • Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, April 16th
      • Beat Furrer’s Violetter Schnee, April 17th
      • Daniel Barenboim playing Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, April 18th, 20th, 22nd & 24th
      • Jules Massenet’s Manon, April 19th
      • Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie, April 21st
      • George Frideric Handel’s The Triumph of Time and Truth, April 23rd
      • Giuseppe Verdi’s Il trovatore, April 25th
      • Luigi Cherubini’s Medea, April 26th
    • April 10th, 2020
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    Detroit Symphony Orchestra | Live from Orchestra Hall | DSO Replay

    Detroit Symphony Orchestra has allowed free access to all of its Live from Orchestra Hall concerts. These were free when web-streamed live, and the archive is now available to watch here. Regular readers will be well aware of the series because they were regularly reviewed by The Classical Source.

    • Click here for instant access to DSO’s Live from Orchestra Hall.
    • April 10th, 2020
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    Ballett and Oper Zürich’s co-production of Verdi’s Requiem

    With the Messa da Requiem, Christian Spuck brought one of Verdi’s key works to the stage. In a large-scale co-production by the Ballett and Oper Zürich, the German choreographer and director ventured to portray an unusual interpretation of Verdi’s funeral mass in his scenic-choreographic production.

    36 dancers, the choir and supplementary choir of the Opernhaus Zürich as well as four highly acclaimed soloists joined together under the direction of Fabio Luisi for 13 wide-ranging scenes dedicated to one of the most fundamental themes of humanity. Christian Spuck does not seek a merer religious interpretation of the liturgical text. Instead, he is interested in focusing on people who, in their vulnerability and helplessness, are in the search for comfort. In poetic tableaux he deals with basic human emotions and focuses on the feelings of fear, rage, pain, sadness and the search for redemption.

    • Watch by clicking here. Available until April 11th.
    • April 10th
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    Daniel Barenboim plays Beethoven | Piano recital in Boulez Saal | Live this evening April 10th at 6 p.m. BST

    The legendary Daniel Barenboim, among his countless other accomplishments, is one of the world’s foremost Beethoven experts, having played or conducted just about every note the composer ever wrote. In this sensational live concert behind the closed doors of Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal—the first in an upcoming series of Moments musicaux (musical moments) with Barenboim—he regales us with Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, a late masterwork brimming with heart and humor that the great Alfred Brendel called “the greatest of all piano works.” For this monumental work during this important Beethoven year, we—and Ludwig himself—couldn’t be in better hands!

    2020: AN ISOLATION ODYSSEY: 40 members of the Orchestra of Opera North create digital performance under lockdown

    Conducted from an empty church in Stockholm, 40 members of the Orchestra of Opera North perform Richard Strauss’s epic Also sprach Zarathustra in living rooms, kitchens and gardens across Yorkshire in a new film, released today.

    When the Leeds-based company’s performances of the piece – famously used to soundtrack the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey – were cancelled as the coronavirus pandemic intensified, two members of the ensemble decided that the show must go on, virtually. Daniel Bull (cello) and Lourenço Macedo Sampaio (viola) contacted Swedish conductor Tobias Ringborg, who had been due to take the podium for the concerts at Huddersfield and Leeds Town Halls. In a church in Stockholm, Tobias filmed himself conducting a pianist performing the piece. Next, Daniel, Lourenço and 40 of their colleagues donned full concert dress and filmed themselves in isolation, performing their parts in time with Tobias’ baton. “We added instrument by instrument until this amazing ‘performance’ took shape”, says Daniel. “It has really felt like watching a huge building being constructed, with Tobias’ musical vision as a starting point, much like an actual rehearsal and concert.” “This project has been incredibly meaningful to me as I have been away from my home country for a long time now, and I don’t know when I will be able to visit my family back in Portugal”, Lourenço says. “The reason we all make music is to connect with one another and with our audiences, and it couldn’t feel more empowering to continue doing what we love most in these unprecedented and difficult times.”

    The Company’s productions currently available for streaming include its entire landmark 2016 Ring cycle, available for free via The final edit of a film of Opera North’s recent production of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, livestreamed from Leeds Grand Theatre in February 2020, is now available for free in partnership with OperaVision.

    Other Opera North productions currently available through a range of partners include Bernstein’s short American opera Trouble in Tahiti, which can currently be watched via Now TV and Sky on-demand services, Jonathan Dove’s family opera The Adventures of Pinocchio, available via Marquee TV, and Don Giovanni, available via Digital Theatre.
    A performance of Opera North’s acclaimed new production of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, recorded in February, will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 this Saturday 11 April, and will be available for 30 days through BBC Sounds.

    BBC Proms Statement

    Like all cultural organisations, we at the BBC Proms are currently dealing with unprecedented challenges and uncertainty. We are still hoping that the Proms will be part of the summer this year, although that will involve adapting and changing the festival we originally planned. We are working hard to find the best way to deliver Sir Henry Wood’s mission to make the best classical music available to the widest possible audience.

    Due to the current situation we are delaying the announcement of our season, the publication of the Official Proms Guide and tickets won’t be going on sale on 16 May as had been planned. We are closely following developing news and guidance from the government and public health authorities, and will update everyone with our plans for the 125th-anniversary season of the Proms by the end of May. Our number one priority will always be the safety of everyone involved with, and attending the Proms.

    All of us at the BBC Proms stand with music lovers everywhere and cultural friends and artists around the world affected by COVID-19.

    Pay it forward – free concert tickets at St John’s Smith Square for NHS staff

    Like many other cultural venues across the UK, the London concert hall St John’s Smith Square is currently closed to the public due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Closed doors means a drastic reduction in income. One way of helping to ease the immediate financial pressures of lockdown is the ‘pay it forward’ model, where customers are invited to purchase goods or services in advance, to be redeemed when lockdown has ended.

    Inspired by the ‘clap for our carers’ initiative and with a desire to look ahead to life after lockdown, St John’s has launched a ‘pay it forward’ campaign with a difference. Supporters are invited to give to the campaign to fund free concert tickets for NHS staff.

    With an initial target of 500 tickets, gifts received during the 4-week campaign will be used to create an NHS free tickets fund. When St John’s is able to reopen to the public, NHS workers will be invited to register for the free tickets scheme and redeem their tickets for a concert of their choice at St John’s.

    St John’s Smith Square Director Richard Heason comments:

      “The current situation has left many of us feeling quite helpless yet wanting to do something positive to let NHS staff know how much we appreciate all that they are doing for us. As an organisation that lives and breathes music, we wanted to give people a way of saying thank you through music”.

    For further information and to give to the campaign, please visit the Crowdfunder page here:

    Royal Opera House | The Royal Opera & The Royal Ballet

    The Royal Opera House is offering a free programme of curated online broadcasts as part of our #OurHouseToYourHouse series. Full-length productions, musical masterclasses and glimpses behind the scenes can be seen for free any time, anywhere across the globe. This will include the following broadcasts, available on demand, for free, via the our Facebook and YouTube channels:

  • Così fan tutte, The Royal Opera, 2010 – 10 April 2020, 7pm BST
  • The Metamorphosis, The Royal Ballet, 2013 – 17 April 2020, 7pm BST
  • Gloriana, The Royal Opera, 2013 – 24 April 2020, 7pm BST
  • The Winter’s Tale, The Royal Ballet, 2014 – 1 May 2020, 7pm BST
  • Met Opera Nightly Opera Streams, week 4, April 6–12

    The Met’s free Nightly Opera Streams continue with a week of performances that show off opera at its most thrilling, thought-provoking, and uplifting.

  • Monday, April 6 | Verdi’s Aida | Starring Anna Netrebko, Anita Rachvelishvili, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Quinn Kelsey, Dmitry Belosselskiy, and Ryan Speedo Green, conducted by Nicola Luisotti. From October 6, 2018
  • Tuesday, April 7 | Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West | Starring Deborah Voigt, Marcello Giordani, and Lucio Gallo, conducted by Nicola Luisotti. From January 8, 2011
  • Wednesday, April 8 | Verdi’s Falstaff | Starring Lisette Oropesa, Angela Meade, Stephanie Blythe, Jennifer Johnson Cano, Paolo Fanale, Ambrogio Maestri, and Franco Vassallo, conducted by James Levine. From December 14, 2013
  • Thursday, April 9 | Wagner’s Parsifal | Starring Katarina Dalayman, Jonas Kaufmann, Peter Mattei, Evgeny Nikitin, and René Pape, conducted by Daniele Gatti. From March 2, 2013
  • Friday, April 10 | Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette | Starring Diana Damrau, Vittorio Grigolo, Elliot Madore, and Mikhail Petrenko, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. From January 21, 2017
  • Saturday, April 11 | Donizetti’s Don Pasquale | Starring Anna Netrebko, Matthew Polenzani, Mariusz Kwiecien, and John Del Carlo, conducted by James Levine. From November 13, 2010
  • Sunday, April 12 | Mozart’s Così fan tutte | Starring Amanda Majeski, Serena Malfi, Kelli O’Hara, Ben Bliss, Adam Plachetka, and Christopher Maltman, conducted by David Robertson. From March 31, 2018
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