The Metropolitan Opera organizes a luxury video gala with the biggest stars of the classic

For all fans of opera weary to watch for the umpteenth time a replay of Carmen, the Metropolitan Opera of New York found the solution: to bring together forty lyric singers from around the world, among the greatest, for the time of a live evening. The prestigious establishment thus organizes a free gala on Saturday 25 April with most of the stars of the moment.

But in this period of confinement, no question of being moved all this little world. No, everyone will perform from their home and perform one or more tunes during the evening. Live from France, for example, the Franco-South African soprano Elza van den Heever (who was expected at the Philharmonie at the end of the month in Fidelio), the Franco-Italian tenor Roberto Alagna and his wife the Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak, but also Diana Damrau live from Orange and the couple Nicole Car and Étienne Dupuis.
The song will come from all over the world with Piotr Beczała (live from Poland), Joseph Calleja in Malta, Michael Fabiano who will sing from Florida, Renée Fleming from Virginia, Elīna Garanča in Riga, Jonas Kaufmann in Munich, Bryn Terfel from his Country of Galles or Sonya Yoncheva, Pretty Yende, Michael Volle, René Pape, Anna Netrebko …

Met calls for donations

The event, which will be hosted by general manager Peter Gelb in New York and musical director Yannick Nézet-Séguin in Montreal, will start at 7 p.m. (French time). To attend, go to Metropolitan Opera website. The concert will then be available for just over twenty-four hours on request. The detailed program for the evening has not yet been released, but it should be announced soon, the institution said.

This “containment gala” is organized as part of the fundraising campaign and calls for donations launched by the establishment. Although it has the largest budget for a theater in the United States, the Metropolitan explains that the Covid-19 pandemic had economic consequences “Considerable” for the institution. Closed since March 12, the Opera announced that it could not pay remuneration to singers whose performances have been canceled. But they are all and this, until the end of the season in May.

Until the date of April 25, it is still possible to wait thanks to the performances broadcast by the Metropolitan Opera on the Internet, the free online shows offered by the Paris Opera until May 3, or this very baroque version of The Abduction from the Seraglio revisited as an episode of Star Trek.


Culture and Corona: The fear of coughing neighbors and spitting singers

Jona’s merchant is ill, no, nothing bad, but he canceled “Fidelio” in London on Monday evening. After all, culture is still running smoothly in England. Elsewhere, however, the lights are out due to Corona.

All in Italy, where, for example, the sensational Raphael exhibition in Rome cannot be visited because everything is closed. Little is known about China and the rest of Asia.

The Minister of Culture has been infected in France

But in San Francisco, where the local symphony orchestra was actually preparing to go with his departing boss Michael Tilson Thomas on his last European tour towards the end of the week, the concert hall was closed. The Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst has postponed a tour to Europe and Abu Dhabi until autumn.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York wipes twice as often, you can no longer take visitors backstage, there are disinfection dispensers everywhere. Conductor Cristian Măcelaru was unloaded at the New World Symphony in Miami because he had performed there in Japan.

In France, where Minister of Culture Franck Riester was probably infected with Covid-19 in the National Assembly, all events for more than 1,000 visitors were canceled on Monday, but what that means for opera houses like Paris or Lyon is still unclear. The Philharmonie de Paris has already closed, and on Monday the SWR Symphony Orchestra met Teodor Currentzis, who was not allowed to travel to Zurich last week.

There are no guest performances by the orchestra of the Bolshoi Theater Moscow and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. But the concerts of the Orchester National d’Île-de-France, the Orchester de Paris and the Orchester Philharmonique de Radio France are also affected.

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In Austria, the Salzburg Easter Festival cheerfully announced its program for 2021 (Anna Netrebko finally in the complete “Turandot”) and want to play from April 4th, as do the Easter festivals in Baden-Baden and Berlin.

Nothing may come of it now. The news came on Tuesday afternoon that the Vienna State Opera must close by the end of the month and that all events with more than 100 spectators in Austria are prohibited. This completely paralyzes concert, theater and opera operations. The provisional closure of all theaters was also announced on Tuesday in the Czech Republic.

In Switzerland, of course only in the cantons of Basel and Schwyz, the game limits were set to 150 spectators. In Oman, the Royal Opera House has ended the rest of its season with guest performances by foreign theaters by May. In Slovakia, the Slovak National Opera has ceased operations.

The sealing off is over

And the first measures have also been taken in Germany. Yesterday afternoon, according to the Jens-Spahn “Recommendations” of a 1,000-seat limitation from Berlin to Munich, it was said that you coordinate with the health authorities, but see no need for action yet, and are pleased that the opera does so little coughed.

But then the Bach Week in Stuttgart (March 13 to 21) of the Bach Academy was canceled, and BASF followed with its concerts in Ludwigshafen. The Berlin concert by Grigorij Sokolov had to be canceled – Sokolov should have traveled from northern Italy. The opening of the exhibition of the Beethoven autographs of the State Library will only take place in Berlin for the press and without a ceremony. The company’s own Würth Philharmonic in Künzelsau has stopped playing until further notice.

On Tuesday afternoon there was still a rambling email from the Deutsche Bühnenverein, which stated: “The theater continues to operate, so far no large-scale revenue losses are known. The stage association advises its theater and orchestra members to implement and communicate the recommended hygiene measures of the Robert Koch Institute and the ministries of health at the respective houses in order to keep the risk of infection low. “

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Culture is, of course, also a matter for the country when it is canceled. In Magdeburg yesterday, all events over 1000 visitors were banned (the theater only has 700 seats). In Bavaria, all state houses will remain closed until further notice. The Vienna Philharmonic plays in Munich in front of 999 spectators.

In the Munich Olympiahalle, the concerts of James Blunt and Santana would be affected in March. For private concert organizers, this ban can become economically dangerous if there are no compensation payments. Politicians have not yet commented on this. And the Munich Symphony Orchestra also had to cancel a tour of Japan.

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In Berlin, Deutsche Grammophon canceled its Yellow Lounge with pianist Rudolf Buchbinder for March 18. Apparently, the 73-year-old didn’t want to take the flight from Vienna. The Philharmonic had to cut their Tel Aviv festival in half next weekend because many musicians cannot come from Israel. If there were still more stringent measures, however, music could be played there at least, then freely accessible, without a listener for the cameras of the Digital Concert Hall.

The State Opera Unter Linden, on the other hand, communicated: “The performances will take place as planned until further notice. The management of the house is in close contact with the authorities. If the performance is officially banned, the State Opera will implement it accordingly. The employees of the house are required to take all possible precautionary measures. Visitors are informed and sensitized to the topic. “


Twenty chances to celebrate Beethoven by discovering Fidelio, his hymn to freedom

This story begins in Tours, spring 1794. At the height of the Terror, the Countess of Semblançay disguises herself as a man to be hired as a prison guard, where her husband is in irons. She successfully escapes and saves him from the guillotine. The case caused a stir. In Paris, Nicolas Bouilly, a rather laborious playwright, nicknamed the “Tear poet” he loves melodrama so much, draws a play from it. Then an opera libretto, set to music in 1798 by the composer Pierre Gaveaux and given without much success under the title Leonore or marital love at the Feydeau theater. The echo of so many tribulations comes to the ears of Joseph von Sonnleithner, secretary of the Imperial Theater in Vienna, who in turn writes a play in three acts on this beautiful plot. But the best is yet to come.

In Vienna, where he settled in 1792, Beethoven is just over thirty years old. The idea is close to his heart to compose an opera but he fails to take the first step. Emmanuel Schikaneder will help him there. This handyman from the Viennese scene writes plays or booklets as well as playing them in the theater or singing them at the opera. He is manager and theater director. His path has already crossed that of Mozart, of whom he was the friend, the advice and the material support, providing him with the booklet of The Magic Flute, and the theater, and the troupe for its creation.

So here he is, ten years later, alongside Beethoven, encouraging him to write this opera which he plans to stage at the Theater an der Wien which he still owns. Sonnleithner transforms his play into a booklet in three acts and Beethoven will work there for almost three years. “This opera, he writes, will earn me the crown of martyrs ”. Schikaneder helps him in any way. He even hosted him in the theater for several months. His way of the cross was not finished. The creation at the end of 1805 was a failure. Beethoven practically did not cease to hold the work on the trade nearly ten years during: three partitions, four openings.

Fidelio is comfort.

Since the creation of the third version and its success in 1814, Beethoven’s unique lyric composition has stood apart. Of all the operas, Fidelio is the one who puts the spectator the most in front of himself. The drivers of the action are simple: the denunciation of injustice, conjugal love, fraternity, freedom. The momentum of music is in total rupture with what has been written so far. Fidelio is comfort.

For the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven, a gigantic festival of his works covers the planet throughout the year. Discover, in this far from exhaustive list, where to hear and see Fidelio through Europe.

At the opera, in concert, at the cinema

The first date to come is at Paris. It is also one of the most interesting of all that is planned. Only once on stage at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, in a concert version, sung by an entirely Swedish set, often praised, it is full of promise. We are delighted in advance by the rare presence of the Swedish radio choir with a unique color and even more so that of Nina Stemme, for whom the role of Leonore seems to be cut as close as possible, timbre, power and expressiveness. Do not waste a moment to reserve (1). If you cannot find a place on avenue Montaigne, you will try your luck across the Rhine for the next day at Essen with the same interpreters (2).

Always at Paris, also in concert version, Elza van den Heever and Eric Cutler will be conducted at the Philharmonie by Simone Young, the Australian conductor who is currently a candidate with a dozen other applicants for the direction of the Paris Orchestra. The South African soprano has just shone in her first Empress of The Shadowless Woman to the TCE (3).

In a few days, and this will be the event of the lyric season across the Channel, Jonas Kaufmann will once again play Florestan on the stage of Covent Garden at London ; by her side Lise Davidsen, who will make her debut in Leonore. Directed by Tobias Kratzer and directed by Antonio Pappano, the show has been sold out since the rental opened. But it will be broadcast live in cinemas around the world on March 17 (4).

Across the Rhine, profusion of proposals. That of the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden is one of the most tempting. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra comes with the new conductor it has chosen. What will do Fidelio the hot Kirill Petrenko? Marlis Petersen will be Leonore and Matthew Polenzani will be Florestan (5). So answer to Baden, in the largest German concert hall. Or, failing that, a few days later at Berlin in the Philharmoniker’s lair, with the same distribution (6). AT Berlin The Staatsoper will also resume the indestructible production by Harry Kupfer. We will find Simone Young on the stick, but with Michaela Kaune and Simon O’Neill, for a series of six evenings (7).

With the exception of those in London and Berlin, the performances listed above are given in concert version. The density of the booklet, the powerful characterization of the two main characters and their total pre-eminence help to accommodate the lack of staging. But an opera is not an opera without a theater. Two other German houses recall this. AT Hamburg, the owner Georges Delnon will sign a new production of Fidelio given under the direction of Kent Nagano, where we will be eager to hear Falk Struckmann in Rocco (8). Which Struckmann will also be distributed at the Semperoper of Dresden with Stephen Gould in Florestan (9). AT Prague a production by the State Opera troupe will be performed under the baton of Andreas Weiser (10).

Austrians are spoiled with Vienna three flagship productions. The Theater an der Wien, where Fidelio was created in 1805, entrusted the actor Christoph Waltz with the production. This composer child, who at 10 was going to listen to Birgit Nilsson in Turandot and studied singing, this is not his first try: he has already designed productions of Knight of the Rose or from Falstaff. On stage, from March 16, the Americans Eric Curtler and Nicole Chevalier; in the pit the Wiener Symphoniker and Manfred Honeck (11). After climbing in February (and for the first time) Leonore, the original version of Beethoven’s opera, the Wiener Staatsoper has chosen to align its historic performance signed by Otto Schenk. Five performances are scheduled in April (which will add to the 200 or so of this production given since 1970). With luxury Florestan, tenor Andreas Schager (12).

Gustavo Dudamel, the Venezuelan chef who carved out a great success last year in Dortmund by tackling Fidelio for the first time, will begin a mini-tour of Europe to give Beethoven’s opera, with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, successively at Barcelona (13) Madrid (14) Dortmund (15) and luxembourg (16).

AT Florence, the musical May will leave with a double asset: Gregory Kunde, in itself, is worth the trip for the great Florestan that we owe him. And also because the opportunity will be given to get to know Heidi Melton, a formidable American Wagnerian better. Zubin Mehta will be with the rod (17).

The anniversary season continues with fireworks, shot at Gstaad in the Bernese Alps, with, higher and higher towards the stars, Falk Struckmann in Rocco, Christina Landshamer in Marcelline, nothing less than Anja Kampe in the title role and -assumption assuming- Jonas Kaufmann, all directed by Jaap van Zweden. It remains to warn, with care, that the rental has been sold out for a long time. But here too, a second chance is given to amateurs. The whole Gstaad troop will descend to Vienna, stop at Grafenegg and will give Fidelio in the park of the castle (18).

The adventure continues on the other side of the Channel, at the festival of Glyndebourne where a month during Robin Ticciati will guide the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Emma Bell and David Butt Philip in a production signed Frederic Wake-Walker (19).

Back to the roots, finally, in September with the Beethoven Festival of Bonn who will give Fidelio the 20 in a production by Volker Lösch, directed by Dirk Kaftan. But the most curious will be in Beethoven’s hometown on September 5 to hear Fidelio 1944, an evocation of the legendary radio concert that Arturo Toscanini gave with the NBC Symphony Orchestra in December of this year, while Europe at war was fighting for the final collapse of Nazism and the liberation of its peoples. The show, conceived and directed by the very intelligent Hungarian chef Adam Fischer and the no less talented Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, promises to recall how freedom is precious, fragile, vital and how much we must always fight for it. A lesson that Fidelio and Beethoven have been reminding us for over two centuries.


1. Champs-Élysées Theater, Paris, February 27.
2. Essen Philharmonic, February 29.
3. Philharmonie de Paris, May 27 and 29.
4. Covent Garden, London, March 1 to 17.
5. Festspielhaus, Baden-Baden, April 4-13.
6. Berlin Philharmonic on April 17 and 19.
7. Staatsoper Unter den Linden, in Berlin, from 6 to 24 but.
8. Staatsoper, Hamburg, from April 28 to May 14.
9. Semperoper, in Dresden, May 28 and June 5.
10. Státní Opera, in Prague, from March 5 to 28.
11. Theater an der Wien, Vienna, March 16-27.
12. Wiener Staatsoper, in Vienna, from April 22 to May 5.
13. Palau de la Música, in Barcelona, ​​April 14.
14. Teatro Réal, in Madrid, April 17.
15. Konzerthaus, in Dortmund, April 22.
16. Philharmonie, in Luxembourg, April 24.
17. Teatro del Maggio Musicale, in Florence, May 28 and 31.
18. Gstaad Festival, August 14.
19. Grafenegg Festival, August 16.
20. Beethoven Festival, in Bonn, September 5 and 20.