For a student like me, summer is great. It brings a blessed stretch of time free of classes and papers. It has lots of other benefits too—barbecues, Popsicles, and Shakespeare in the park. There’s just one things missing: opera.
Pretty much every opera company in the U.S. and Europe goes dark for most of July and August. I’m not sure why: Do the techies need a break? Is the air conditioning in the theatre insufficient? Do the choristers need to work on the next season’s repertoire? Do they just know that tickets won’t sell as well? Regardless, opera fans are out of luck unless they happen to live close to an opera summer festival. These festivals (I made a list of some of the British ones) tend to have high-quality productions, but they also tend to be expensive. In addition, there simply aren’t as many of them as there are opera houses during the year. My native Portland, for instance, does not have one.
So here I am, enjoying an almost-idyllic summer at home, but mercilessly deprived of opera. How do I keep myself sane? The answer is two-fold: singing arias with my family’s slightly-out-of-tune piano (much to my little brother’s dismay) and the internet. I figure some of you might be suffering from the same problem, so here I offer my internet-based solutions:
- Glyndebourne video streams. Don’t be misled by the bit about streaming to cinemas at the top of the page (though you can certainly attend the cinema screenings if you like). Simultaneous with these are free, online streams of Glyndebourne’s operas. These productions are usually stylish and impeccably cast, so they are well worth tuning in for. The recently streamed Glyndebourne Don Giovanni had me head-over-heels in love with the protagonist, and was both musically and dramatically the best I’ve seen.
- YouTube. There’s a lot of opera on YouTube, though sometimes a race between copyright holders and opera fans occurs, with videos removed as quickly as they are posted. Lots of people have compiled lists of full operas on YouTube, though of course some of the items on the lists are no longer available:
- Other video streams. OK, this is a pretty broad category. There’s no other company I follow as religiously as Glyndebourne during the summers, but there are plenty of other great operas being streamed online. OperaCat has an incredibly complete listing that is kept updated throughout the year. It includes a lot of old favorites as well as quite a few rarely performed operas.
Those are my solutions. How do you deal with the summer opera desert?