Metropolitan Opera streams performances every night of the week

The Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, New York – courtesy Wikimedia Commons

During the current closure of the Metropolitan Opera season, the Company is ensuring that audiences around the world are still able to watch some of its magnificent repertoire of works. Each night of the week, a different opera from the Company’s Live in HD series is being made available for free streaming on the Met website, with each performance available for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 pm EDT until 6:30 pm the following day.

The first three productions this week feature Gaetano Donizetti’s bel canto Tudor trilogy, starting this evening – Monday, April 27 – with Anna Bolena. Set to a libretto by Felice Romani, the opera had its World Premiere at the Teatro Carcano, Milan, in 1830, and tells of the events leading up to the execution of the second wife of Henry VIII. Recorded at the Met on October 15, 2011, this performance stars Anna Netrebko in the title role, Ekaterina Gubanova, Stephen Costello, and Ildar Abdrazakov. The conductor is Marco Armiliato.

The following production, on Tuesday, April 28, is Maria Stuarda – the tragic account of the martyred Mary Queen of Scots. With a libretto by Giuseppe Bardari – adapted from a play by Friedrich Schiller – the opera had its World Premiere at Teatro alla Scala, Milan, in 1835. The action takes place in the latter part of the 16th century in the London court of Queen Elizabeth I, and at Fotheringhay Castle, where Mary was imprisoned before her execution. Starring Elza van den Heever as Queen Elizabeth, Joyce DiDonato as Mary, Queen of Scots, and Matthew Polenzani as Leicester, the production is conducted by Maurizio Benini, and was recorded on January 19, 2013.

From the Metropolitan Opera production of ‘Roberto Devereux’

Roberto Devereux rounds off the trilogy of the Tudor queens on Wednesday, April 29. Set to a libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, it received its World Premiere at Teatro San Carlo, Napoli, in 1837, and relates the dramatic and heart-rending story of the love between Elizabeth I and the Earl of Essex – she torn between her heart and her duty to her country, he torn between the love of two women. Sondra Radvanovsky sings the role of the queen, Matthew Polenzani takes the title role, Elīna Garanča is Sarah and Mariusz Kwiecien is her husband, the Duke of Nottingham. Recorded on April 16, 2016, the production is led by Maurizio Benini.

Thursday, April 30features a contemporary work – Nico Muhly’s Marnie. Based on Winston Graham’s 1961 novel, the libretto by Nicholas Wright tells of a young con-woman – sung by Isabel Leonard – who takes on a number of identities until her meeting with Mark Rutland – sung by Christopher Maltman. Marnie – in what the Met describes as a “cinematic production” by Michael Mayer – premiered during the Metropolitan Opera’s 2018-19 season. This recording, on November 10, 2018, is led by Roberto Spano.

Friday, May 1 features Verdi’s Aida as the Viewers’ Choice in this week’s productions. It marks the final appearance of soprano Leontyne Price on the opera stage. With a libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, Aida was commissioned for the opening of Khedivial Opera House in Cairo, and premiered on December 24, 1871. The European premiere took place at La Scala, Milan, in 1872. This Met production was transmitted live on January 3, 1985, with a cast which featured Fiorenza Cossotto, James McCracken and Simon Estes. The conductor was James Levine.

From the Metropolitan Opera production of ‘Luisa Miller’

It’s Verdi again on Saturday evening, May 2, as the Metropolitan Opera screens a performance of Luisa Miller, recorded on April 14, 2018. The title role is sung by Sonya Yoncheva, with Piotr Beczala as Rodolfo and Plácido Domingo as Luisa’s father. The opera, with a libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, premiered on December 8,1849, at Teatro San Carlo in Naples – immediately before Verdi’s Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata, and centers on the doomed love between Luisa and Rodolfo, complicated by intrigue, and the love for Luisa of her family. This production is led by Bertrand de Billy.

From the Metropolitan Opera production of ‘Prince Igor’

This week’s final opera transmission by the Met, on Sunday, May 2, is Borodin’s Prince Igor, the Company’s first staging of the opera in nearly a century. The libretto – written by the composer – was adapted from the East Slavic epic the Lay of Igor’s Host, recounting the campaign of the Russian prince, Igor Svyatoslavich, against the invading Polovtsian tribes in 1185. The opera, which features the famed Polovtsian Dances, was first performed in St Petersburg in 1890. This production by the Met stars an all-Russian-language cast, headed by Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role, with Oksana Dyka as his wife, Yaroslavna. Anita Rachvelishvili is Konchakova, Sergey Semishkur is Igor’s son Vladimir, Mikhail Petrenko is Prince Galitzky, and Štefan Kocán is Khan Konchak. Recorded on March 1, 2014, the performance is conducted by Gianandrea Noseda.

Information sourced from:
Metropolitan Opera program notes
Prince Igor

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SFJAZZ invites you to ‘Fridays at Five’

Chris Potter, Zakir Hussain and Dave Holland – courtesy SFJAZZ

SFJAZZ has launched a series of online performances called Fridays at Five in which you can watch exclusive footage from some of the finest concerts staged at the SFJAZZ Center over the past few years. Enjoy this series from the comfort of your own home, and you don’t even have to be in San Francisco or the Bay Area to do so – although in some parts of the world you might need to be a night owl to catch the transmissions!

This week’s concert – on April 24th – features tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, bassist Dave Holland and saxophonist Chris Potter – described as “three of the most influential musicians of the last five decades” (SFJAZZ). This performance was recorded at the JAZZ Center in June 2018.

Hussain – a former Resident Artistic Director of SFJAZZ, and the 2017 recipient of the SFJAZZ Lifetime Achievement Award – is described by the New York Times as “a living genius”. According to the Boston Globe, Holland is a “master bassist and bandleader”, and the Chicago Tribune refers to Potter as “one of the most dynamic young players in jazz”.

Collectively known as Crosscurrents Trio, the group released their debut album, Good Hope, on Edition Records last October. Three of the eight compositions on the album were written by Dave Holland, three by Chris Potter, and two by Zakir Hussain. Each of these pieces is individual, but – says JazzTrail – “they perfectly integrate here as a whole, to the point of making us think it could have been composed by only one person”.

Fridays at Five is transmitted every Friday afternoon at 5.00 pm (Pacific Time) and a $5 subscription to the SFJAZZ Digital Membership will enable you to watch four consecutive Friday concerts – the proceeds of which will directly support SFJAZZ and the artists featured in these performances. Visit the SFJAZZ website for more details.

Here’s the Fridays at Five schedule for May:

May 1: Snarky Puppy – three-times GRAMMY Award-winning group, described by SFJAZZ as “the most explosively funky megaband in the land”.

May 8: Joe Lovano: Trioism – GRAMMY Award-winning saxophonist – with Bill Frisell, Tyshawn Sorey, Marilyn Cirspell & Carmen Castoldi.

May 15: Monsieur Periné, 2015 Latin GRAMMY winner, described by LA Weekly as “One of the most exciting emerging artists in Latin music”.

May 22: Wayne Shorter Celebration – legendary 11-time GRAMMY Award-winning saxophonist is honoured by Kamasi Washington, Terrace Martin, Danilo Pérez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade.

May 29: Chucho Valdés & Irakere 45 – “The greatest living Cuban pianist and a singular force in Cuban music for more than half a century” with “the new iteration of the legendary band that changed the course of Latin music in the 1970s and 80s”. (SFJAZZ)

Information sourced from:

SFJAZZ program notes


See also:

Zakir Hussain

Dave Holland

Chris Potter

Edition Records

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English National Ballet premieres ‘Broken Wings’ online

Tamara Rojo as Frida Kahlo, and members of ENB © Laurent Liotardo

As of this week, English National Ballet is inviting audiences around the world to watch a selection of full-length recordings of some of the Company’s performances – not yet seen online. The Wednesday Watch Parties are part of the ENB at HOME initiative, and these performances will be premiered online – and free – on both Facebook and YouTube – every Wednesday evening for the next month, with each recording available for the following 48 hours.

The first of these premieres is Broken Wings, inspired by the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, perhaps one of the best-known artists of the 20th century. Choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Broken Wingsfeatures ENB’s Artistic Director and Lead Principal, Tamara Rojo, in the role of Kahlo, and her husband – muralist Diego Rivera – is portrayed by the popular Russian-born dancer, Irek Mukhamedov. Broken Wings, recorded at Sadlers Wells in 2016, formed part of a programme entitled She Said – English National Ballet’s first triple bill dedicated to female choreography.

Tamaro Rojo as Frida Kahlo and Irek Mukhamedov as Diego Riveras © Laurent Liotard

Frida Kahlo was possibly best known for her wonderfully colourful self-portraits which tended to focus on themes such as identity, the human body, and death. She was also known for the turbulent nature of her relationship with Rivera – whom she married in 1929, divorced 10 years later, then remarried a year after that. Kahlo taught herself to paint during her lengthy recovery from a bus accident in 1925 – a time during which she studied the Old Masters.

Following her marriage to Rivera, however, both her personal and artistic style underwent something of a change, and she took to wearing the traditional Tehuana dress with which she became identified – a loose blouse, long ruffled skirt, gold jewellery and a flowered headdress.
Choreographer Ochoa – who is part-Belgian, part Colombian – says she loves “the colourfulness” of Kahlo’s paintings and “the Mexicanismo”. “It’s very close to me, through my parents. I love that music, listening to those Rancheras.” She was also attracted by Kahlo’s personal story and tragic life – the accident, the lengthy recovery, and the miscarriages she suffered as a result of the accident – her work becoming more and more surrealist.

The score for Broken Wings is by British composer Peter Salem, who has written for film, television, theatre, ballet and concert hall, including scores for the documentary series Francesco’s Venice and Simon Scharma’s The Power of Art: Caravaggio. He has also collaborated extensively with the RSC and National Theatre.

Dutch designer Dieuweke van Reij was commissioned by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa to design the costumes for the cast of Broken Wings – which, interestingly, includes ten men dressed as Frida Kahlo, representing an extension of the artist herself and all the facets of herself that she feels or wishes for.

The first Wednesday Watch Party, featuring Broken Wings, will take place at 7.00 pm (BST) on Wednesday 22nd April on YouTube and ENB’s Facebook page.

The second Wednesday Watch Party will feature Akram Khan’s Dust on 29th April, with the programmes on 6th and 13th May yet to be announced.

Information sourced from:

English National Ballet programme notes
See also:

Tamara Rojo

Irek Mukhamedov

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Peter Salem

Dieuweke van Reij

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Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo screens ‘Casse-Noisette Compagnie’

Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo in Maillot’s ‘Caisse-Noisette Compagnie © Alice Blangero

In a welcome initiative at a time when all theatrical productions have had to be cancelled, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo – in association with Monaco Info and France 3 Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur – are screening Jean-Christophe Maillot’s acclaimed production of Casse-Noisette Compagnie.

Stars of the Bolshoi Ballet, Artem Ovcharenko and Olga Smirnova ©Alice Blangero

This interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker is Maillot’s very own, and it’s the work which he chose to celebrate his 20th anniversary as Director and Choreographer of the Company in 2013. Like Clara – in the traditional story of The Nutcracker – whose dreams magically come true – Maillot also had a dream – that of creating an artistic world in Monaco. Like Clara, he too met a ‘magician’ – in the person of HRH the Princess of Hanover, patron and key supporter of choreographic art in Monaco – who gave him the freedom to create a repertoire of more than 30 works of unlimited possibilities and challenges. Casse-Noisette Compagnie relates this story, paying tribute to the Royal patron who made it possible.

Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo in Maillot’s ‘Casse-Noisette Compagnie’ © Alice Blangero

Casse-Noisette Compagnie is a new choreography that puts the leading characters that I have created in Monaco on stage together,” says Maillot. “They have all come from my box of memories and are preparing to dance for you and say a huge thank you!” The work premiered on 26th December 2013, at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.

Lucien Postlewaite and Victoria Ananyan in Maillot’s ‘Caisse-Noisette Compagnie’
© Alice Blangero

Maillot’s story retains the characters of the Stahlbaum family, featuring Clara and her dolls’ house, and Fritz with his tantrums, but instead of setting the work in the Stahlbaum family home, the background is a ballet studio run by the Stahlbaum parents. Uncle Drosselmeyer becomes the Fairy Drosselmeyer, who – instead of giving Clara a nutcracker doll – presents the Company with the unexpected gift of a new choreographer.

A scene from Maillot’s ‘Le Songe’ © Alice Blangero

The contests and battles of the toys are played out, the Prince appears, and Clara is transported through her beautiful winter journey among the snowflakes, until she arrives in the magic land of Confiturembourg. Here, the story takes on a new twist, for instead of variations based on a selection of confectionary delights, the series of festivities that takes place in the kingdom are representations of the various ballets which Maillot has created for the Company – works such as Cinderella, La Belle, Le Songe and Romeo and Juliet.

Olga Smirnova and members of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo © Alice Blangero

La Terrasse referred to this production as “A Nutcracker Compagnie worthy of the name, magnified by the troupe’s history”. Le Nouvel Observateur wrote: “Tchaikovsky’s spiritual pages flick by in this Nutcracker Compagnie featuring a number of those who have left their mark on the history of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo – and this festive piece should be appreciated as a roman à clef.” According to Dance Europe, “It is after all nowt but a dream, a phantasmagoria that drags you irretrievably from sense and sensibility to a world where anything goes”.

The finale of ‘Casse Noisette Compagnie’ © Alice Blangero

Casse-Noisette Compagnie is performed by Le Compagnie des Ballets de Monte-Carlo and students of Académie Princesse Grace, with the participation of Bolshoi Ballet stars Olga Smirnova and Artem Ovcharenko. The Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Nicolas Brochot.

Jean-Christophe Maillot has choreographed his ballet to Tchaikovsky’s widely loved Nutcracker score, with additional music by Bertrand Maillot. Scenography is by Alain Lagarde, costumes by Philippe Guillotel, lighting by Dominique Drillot, and the dramaturgy consultant is by Jean Rouaud.

Casse-Noisette Compagnie can be viewed online:

On Monaco info on Wednesday 15th and Saturday 18th April, at 17h00 (CEST).

On France 3 Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur from Wednesday 15th April at 17h00 (CEST) until Sunday 19th April 00h00 (midnight CEST).

For more information on the Principality of Monaco, visit and

Information sourced from:

Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo programme notes

This article first appeared in Riviera Buzz

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