Theater for shut-ins,
Opera for lockdowns

The Alexander Report on what
to watch to keep it together

Andrew Alexander
March 23, 2020

Image: Sir John Tenniel, Alice in the White Rabbit’s house, 1865

In strange times, we need art more than ever to remind us of our normality. The strangest of times are here, and The Alexander Report is simply in a state of shock…. Just when we need it most, we can’t gather to contemplate great art at the theater, museums, opera, or ballet.

The Report recommends trying to keep your mind on lovely and hopeful things during these frightening times. Most of these recommendations are free and can be streamed from your home:

Theater

The streaming service Globe Player allows viewers to watch taped performances from the Globe Theatre.

If you’re missing the theater, have a listen one evening to an audio play from LA Theater Works. The renowned theater does radio-play versions of classic plays and contemporary prize-winning works. Check out works by David Mamet, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Chekhov and O’Neill. Some can be listened to for free via NPR or you can listen through the theater’s website which offers access to the full catalog of more than 500 audio works as a pay service.

The Folger Shakespeare Library does a regular podcast Shakespeare Unlimited about interesting topics surrounding Shakespeare. Renowned experts discuss topics and issues around the bard and his work. Recent episodes have included a consideration of Abraham Lincoln’s relationship to the works of Shakespeare and a tracing of the history of the reception and production of Shakespeare’s works in Africa.

If you prefer watching Shakespeare, check out the pay service Globe Player, which allows viewers to watch filmed performances of productions from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

England’s Hampstead Theatre is allowing viewers to watch its production of Lauren Gunderson’s charming two-person play I and You starring Maisie Williams for free through March 29.

Literature

Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is just one of the works you can listen to for free on Audible.com at this time.

The audio book service Audible is offering free recordings of kids’ books at this time. It’s actually a great service even if you’re not caring for children. Included are classics like Jane Eyre, Brave New World, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (read by Scarlett Johansson) and Moby Dick, as well as an intriguing section devoted entirely to folktales.

Opera, Ballet, & Classical Music

An image from the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites

The web service OperaVision offers a number of filmed opera productions for free.

The Paris Opera Ballet will broadcast performances from its archive including Swan Lake and its Tribute to Jerome Robbins, and the Berliner Philharmoniker is offering free access to all concerts and films in its “Digital Concert Hall.”

Marquee TV offers a wide array of ballet, opera, contemporary dance, and theater performances. It’s a pay service, but there is a free 30-day trial period. (There has probably never been a better 30 days to give this a shot).

The Royal Opera House is making available weekly ballets and operas streamed for free for a short time (and then available on demand) on their Facebook and YouTube channels. 2009’s Acis and Galatea is on 3 April and the 2010 outing of Jonathan Miller’s Così fan tutte on 10 April.

And of course, the Metropolitan Opera continues with its free streaming of video recordings from its Live in HD series, one each night beginning at 7:30 p.m. Simply go to metopera.org and look for the Watch Now link. For better or worse, this is “Wagner Week,” but next week’s schedule includes Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites and Nixon in China.

The full schedule for free Met broadcasts is as follows. Operas are available to stream beginning at 7:30 p.m. each evening, and they remain available until 3:30 p.m. the following day:

March 23: Tristan und Isolde
Conducted by Simon Rattle, starring Nina Stemme, Ekaterina Gubanova, Stuart Skelton, Evgeny Nikitin, and René Pape. (Originally broadcast October 8, 2016.)

March 24: Das Rheingold
Conducted by James Levine, starring Wendy Bryn Harmer, Stephanie Blythe, Richard Croft, Gerhard Siegel, Dwayne Croft, Bryn Terfel, Eric Owens, and Hans-Peter König. (Originally broadcast October 9, 2010.)

March 25: Die Walküre
Conducted by James Levine, starring Deborah Voigt, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Stephanie Blythe, Jonas Kaufmann, Bryn Terfel, and Hans-Peter König. (Originally broadcast May 14, 2011.)

March 26: Siegfried
Conducted by Fabio Luisi, starring Deborah Voigt, Hunter Morris, Gerhard Siegel, Bryn Terfel, and Eric Owens. (Originally broadcast November 5, 2011.)

March 27: Götterdämmerung
Conducted by Fabio Luisi, starring Deborah Voigt, Wendy Bryn Harmer, Waltraud Meier, Jay Hunter Morris, Iain Paterson, Eric Owens, and Hans-Peter König. (Originally broadcast February 11, 2012.)

March 28: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Conducted by James Levine, starring Annette Dasch, Johan Botha, Paul Appleby, and Michael Volle. (Originally broadcast December 13, 2014.)

March 29: Tannhäuser
Conducted by James Levine, starring Eva-Marie Westbroek, Michelle DeYoung, Johan Botha, Peter Mattei, and Gunther Groissböck. (Originally broadcast October 31, 2015.)

Monday, March 30 – Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites
Conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, starring Isabel Leonard, Adrianne Pieczonka, and Karita Mattila. Transmitted live on May 11, 2019.

Tuesday, March 31 – Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Conducted by Maurizio Benini, starring Joyce DiDonato, Juan Diego Flórez, and Peter Mattei. Transmitted live on March 24, 2007.

Wednesday, April 1 – John Adams’s Nixon in China
Conducted by John Adams, starring Janis Kelly and James Maddalena. Transmitted live on February 12, 2011.

Thursday, April 2 – Verdi’s Don Carlo
Conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, starring Marina Poplavskaya, Roberto Alagna, Simon Keenlyside, and Ferruccio Furlanetto. Transmitted live December 11, 2010.

Friday, April 3 – Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles
Conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, starring Diana Damrau, Matthew Polenzani, and Mariusz Kwiecien. Transmitted live January 16, 2016.

Saturday, April 4 – Verdi’s Macbeth
Conducted by Fabio Luisi, starring Anna Netrebko, Joseph Calleja, Željko Lučić, and René Pape. Transmitted live October 11, 2014.

Sunday, April 5 – Bellini’s Norma
Conducted by Carlo Rizzi, starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Joyce DiDonato, Joseph Calleja, and Matthew Rose. Transmitted live October 17, 2017.

Andrew Alexander is an Atlanta-based writer and founder of The Alexander Report.


Scroll to Top