Teatro La Fenice in Venice, one of the most famous opera houses in the history of theatre, is an 18th-century establishment that has had its share of tormented history, an almost necessary condition to be counted among the greats. Three devastating fires couldn’t extinguish its eminence and neither, it seems, can the novel coronavirus. In the opulent opera house, one that can seat an audience of 1,126, a string quartet from Barcelona took to the stage and played Beethoven — without a single individual in the audience. La Fenice live-streamed the 57-minute performance on March 2, allowing their music to reach the ears of over 10,000 aficionados online. You too can watch the quartet perform on YouTube on the channel “La Fenice Opera House”.
As the world lives out this dystopian drama — confined within the four walls of homes and isolated from spaces of art and culture — the classical and performing arts are not cut off by any means. They are making their way into people’s homes through the internet. Major renowned global performing arts centres, such as New York’s Lincoln Center (lincolncenter.org) and Washington DC’s Kennedy Center (kennedy-center.org) have thrown open their archives of performances across genres. They are live-streaming performances and sharing archives in the time of social distancing and codeword “cancel”. Log in regularly to find out what’s streaming.
Meanwhile, here is a sample of some of the best available on the internet in the fields of music, theatre and dance.
Folk: Béla Fleck, a 15-time Grammy award winner, is an American banjo player who makes music that spans genres such as bluegrass, jazz, classical pop and rock, through the quartet Béla Fleck & The Flecktones. His wife Abigail Washburn is also a banjo player (the duo took home the 2016 Grammy for Best Folk Album). The couple has been live-streaming performances from their home through a series called Lockdown Livestream. Every Friday, they take to the “stage” — in front of their fireplace, at 6pm CT (10hr30mins behind IST) via Facebook Live.
Rock: One of America’s best known heavy metal bands, Metallica, has announced #MetallicaMondays, when the band will share some of its best performances. Metallica kicked off this series with their Live at Slane Castle show in Ireland in June last year. Hits like “Whiskey in the Jar” and “The Memory Remains” drew in around 3 million viewers on the very first session. While we don’t know what they will show us next — the band has way too many performances to choose from — head over to their YouTube channel and Facebook page, every Monday at 8pm EST (9hr30mins behind IST).
One of America’s best known heavy metal bands, Metallica, has announced #MetallicaMondays, when the band will share some of its best performances.
For indie music fans, Ben Gibbard, the lead singer of Death Cab for Cutie, will be live-streaming performances from his home studio. He has already covered songs of the great and the popular, including Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Phoebe Bridgers and Def Leppard. Gibbard has been performing every day since March 25 and will continue to do so till March 29. These sessions are available on demand on siriusxmu.com, the official website of the radio channel which plays alternative rock exclusively.
Operas and orchestras: The Vienna State Opera has made a schedule of performances that go on till April 1. All performances can be watched for free on straatsoperlive.com and include classic performances that took place at the Wiener Staatsoper. Each video of the performances will be available for 72 hours after they have been live-streamed. The opera house is offering a free trial for 30 days after which you will have to subscribe to the online archive to watch some of the best operas in the world. Some of the temptations on offer: Roméo et Juliette, a performance from January 20, 2019, and Peer Gynt, one of Henrik Ibsen’s most widely performed plays.
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London’s famous performing arts venue, has introduced an online programme in which it will upload full-length dance performances and workshops.
On the website of the London Symphony Orchestra, lso.co.uk, you can stream the orchestra’s performance of Brahms’ “Symphony No 5” on April 2 and Verdi’s “Requiem” on April 5. The orchestra is streaming classics every day, so do check their website for more details (the schedule of performances is kept flexible because of current circumstances).
BroadwayHD: One of New York City’s most famous districts needs no introduction but its online on-demand digital streaming platform might. Through BroadwayHD, the professional theatre collective is recording and distributing live theatre performances. You can watch productions such as Swan Lake, Indecent and The Sleeping Beauty on this streaming platform. The first week is free, but you will need to subscribe to watch more of Broadway’s renowned productions, all available on broadwayhd.com.
Shakespeare: On YouTube, Rob Myles, a UK-based actor and writer, came together with a bunch of top-notch actors over the internet for a live reading of Shakespeare’s works. On March 19, they kicked off the series The Show Must Go Online with the classic Two Gentlemen in Verona. By the time you read this piece, you will be able to watch two such live sessions on his eponymous YouTube channel, a must for fans of Shakespearana.
Alt-theatre: Gecko, an international physical theatre company, has put its shows on YouTube for free, including The Time of Your Life, a 30-minute performance created in collaboration with BBC.
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London’s famous performing arts venue, has introduced an online programme in which it will upload full-length dance performances and workshops. Launched on March 27, which is also World Theatre Day, ballet and other dance performances will be made available on their Facebook page.
Hamburg Ballet, an acclaimed ballet company based in the eponymous town in Germany, will be streaming the creation process of The Glass Menagerie, a Tennessee Williams classic that first premiered in 1944, starting March 28 and 29, on both Instagram TV and Facebook.