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Thread: Opera in the times of COVID

          
   
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  1. #16
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florestan View Post
    What will it be like at a performance if the performers are singing through face masks?


    It's all so depressing
    "Every theatre is an insane asylum, but an opera theatre is the ward for the incurables."

    FRANZ SCHALK, attributed, Losing the Plot in Opera: Myths and Secrets of the World's Great Operas

  2. #17
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    I can't imagine how they could properly breathe if they're singing with masks on.

    Meanwhile, I'm reading articles in the latest issues of Opernwelt and Das Opernglas in which the impact of the COVID-19 closings on freelance singers and independent ensembles -- i.e., those individuals who don't belong to the permanent ensemble of state - or city-supported theaters -- is discussed. A good deal of it has to do with German and Austrian law governing self-employed persons and organizations receiving public subsidies. Rather complicated, but I get the impression that "holes" in those laws which have little or no impact during "normal" times are now causing some major headaches. There is also the matter of the economic impact the cancellations of major festivals will have on the cities where those festivals are held.

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    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Finally, some encouraging news for opera on the COVID-19 front: the Vienna State Opera and Royal Opera House will be reopening this month, though audiences will be limited to 100 persons at a performance, and the duration of performances will be strictly limited. The Bavarian State Opera apparently has already reopened under similar conditions. These will also be concerts, not opera productions of any sort.

    https://www.classicfm.com/music-news...ience-members/

    https://operawire.com/gerald-finley-...ening-concert/

    Back in this neck of the woods, Ohio's governor has announced that many indoor public entertainment venues will be allowed to reopen on 10 June if they can meet all of the safety requirements for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Cinemas are included, but theaters are not.

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  6. #19
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    We talked about ways of giving back to furloughed musicians months ago, and in case you hadn't seen it and are interested - The Met Orchestra musicians have a relief fund set up.

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  8. #20
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    This article/review really struck home and has given me hope.

    https://bachtrack.com/feature-opera-...down-june-2020
    "Every theatre is an insane asylum, but an opera theatre is the ward for the incurables."

    FRANZ SCHALK, attributed, Losing the Plot in Opera: Myths and Secrets of the World's Great Operas

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  10. #21
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    The problem with the socially distanced theaters is that the model isn't very sustainable. Given how much an opera production costs, selling tickets to 100 people won't really match the costs. Not to forget, a cast and crew would have to quarantine in place for 14 days and be exhaustively tested and likely remain sequestered for the duration of the run, because singing out loud is much more likely to spread the virus if someone is infected.

    If we don't get an effective vaccine, opera will be in big trouble. Both the singers and instrumentalists will be unsafe on the stage and pit, and the audience is made of a lot of senior citizens who are susceptible to the virus. At this point I wouldn't have the guts to attend a performance even in the social distancing model.

    Opera is a very expensive art form and even with the full audiences companies already had trouble making ends meet. With one tenth of the audience...

    And the global economic crisis will hit governmental grants as well.

    I'm not optimistic at all... sorry.

    Anyway, maybe I'm gloomy because the virus is so out of control in the USA. Maybe for you guys in Europe and New Zealand things don't look as bleak.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  12. #22
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    The local organization Matinée Musicale is trying to reschedule concerts for later this year and into next year, at least according to an ad in the latest issue of Cincinnati Magazine. As things stand right now, I doubt Pene Pati's concert on 8 August is going to happen; I have more hope for Nicole Cabell's program on 31 January 2021. Don't know yet about Ryan Speedo Green's concert on 22 November. If there is a vaccine for COVID-19 by then (and I've been vaccinated, of course), I might consider it. Still, that little theater at Memorial Hall is not exactly roomy.
    On a brighter note, a short letter from the Cincinnati Opera indicated that the company exceeded its contribution goals for the Artists Relief Fund, and has been able to help nearly 400 individuals.

  13. #23
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    Many American opera companies have pivoted to producing online recitals. I confess, I have not watched any of them as I don't have as much taste or desire for it. But Austin Opera's series has had some good singers, and has snagged Bryan Hymel for tomorrow's concert! It will be online for some time to watch at your leisure.

    I'm also excited for their Fall series which will consist of 3 video productions which will play at the local drive-in movie theater. Including a staged version of Schubert's Winterreise which was cancelled earlier this year, and La voix humaine starring Karen Slack. As stir-crazy as all of us are here in idiot-prone Texas, I might actually be able to talk a few of my opera-uninterested friends into attending one of these.

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  15. #24
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    The Austin and Dallas Operas pivoted quickly into producing digital content, but Houston Grand Opera was quietly working on plans of its own. They're producing 3 one-act video productions, all in English (likely to dispense with the necessity for subtitles), of Mozart's The Impresario, David T. Little's Vinkensport, and Lee Hoiby's Bon Appetit.

    I bring this up solely to say that I have never really been interested in seeing Hoiby's comic opera about Julia Child taping an episode of her TV show - an opera that's very popular with chamber opera companies, and is obviously meant to be very accessible to audiences who don't normally go to contemporary operas - but... HGO will be producing this with Jamie Barton...

    Who wouldn't want to see Jamie Barton hamming it up as Julia Child!?

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  17. #25
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    I’ve been reading reviews in the July-August issue of Das Opernglas of the first public (i.e., with audience present) opera and concert performances that have taken place in Germany since there’s been some easing of the COVID-19 restrictions implemented in March. Of course, the operas did not include the sort of fully-staged productions we were accustomed to in pre-pandemic days. Still, it’s interesting to see how different organizations have tried to offer at least some sort of live event during such an uncertain period.

    Wiesbaden

    With permission from local authorities, the Hessian State Theater was able to present a scaled-down version of its traditional May Festival toward the latter part of that month. These included Liederabende by Günther Groissböck, Florian Boesch, and Klaus Florian Vogt, concerts of opera excerpts by Gabriela Scherer/Michael Volle, Annalisa Stroppa, and Johanni van Oosten/Daniela Fally, and a truncated version of the new Tristan und Isolde production originally planned for the Festival. Providing accompaniment for the Wagner opera were pianist Alexandra Golubitskaia and violinist Lidia Baich (though the performance was introduced by the overture as performed by Carlos Kleiber and the Dresden Staatskapelle in their recording of the work). Soloists Catherine Foster, Andreas Schager, Thonas de Vries, René Pape, Margarete Joswig, and Aaron Cawley all appeared in standard concert attire rather than costumes, and the only prop onstage was a chair in which one of the soloists could briefly sit and rest. During Act II, the curtain served as a projection surface for videos of either young lovers or scenes from violent events around the world, evidently intended to illustrate the love-hate dichotomy. No specifics are given in the review as to performance conditions for attendees other than noting that “corresponding hygiene and distancing” protocols were observed. In a separate interview, Wiesbaden’s Intendant, Uwe Eric Laufenberg, mentions that audience size was restricted to 100 individuals, who entered the auditorium from one side and exited on the other. He also reveals that Michael Volle, who had sung in a production of Salome at La Scala in February, subsequently found out that one of the individuals with whom he’d been in contact there had contracted COVID-19. Volle and his entire family went into quarantine for 14 days and subsequently tested negative for the illness.

    Berlin

    What was supposed to have been the beginning of a new Ring cycle at the Deutsche Oper Berlin pre-coronavirus ended up as the staging of a scaled-down Das Rheingold in June on the top level of a parking garage adjacent to the house on Bismarckstrasse. Audience members sat in rows of seats with an empty row between each occupied one, and with several empty seats on either side of individuals who were not from the same household. In the accompanying photo, attendees also appear to be wearing face masks. The “stage” consisted of a multilevel metal structure with orchestra musicians and conductor Donald Runnicles on the top level, and costumed soloists enacting their roles on the lower levels. (Looks rather like a very wide set of stairs.) The orchestra was reduced to 22 members, and the characters of Mime and Froh were dispensed with, again to facilitate distancing. Most of the singers used the central aisle to make their entrances and exits, although Philipp Jekal (Alberich) actually sang from a window in the next door opera house. The excellent cast also included Derek Welton (Wotan), Annika Schlicht (Fricka), Thomas Blondelle (Loge), Judit Kutasi (Erda), Andrew Harris/Tobias Kehrer (Fasolt and Fafner), and the Rhine Maidens of Elena Tsallgova, Irene Roberts, and Karis Tucker. The soprano who sang Freia is not identified, although she’s visible in the photo.

    Dresden

    What was supposed to be a star-studded new production of the four-act version of Don Carlo conducted by Christian Thielemann at the Semper Opera in May turned into a 90-minute concert performance of “highlights” from the opera in June, with cast members including Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov, Elena Maximova, Sebastian Wartig, and Tilmann Rönnebeck under the baton of Johannes Wulff-Woesten. That gentleman conducted an eight-member chamber ensemble from the piano, and the number of choristers was also substantially reduced. The highlights were focused on the various romantic complications in the plot rather than the family conflicts or political issues, so there was no Grand Inquisitor. Of the 1,300 seats in the auditorium, only around 330 were occupied, and those who attended had to do without any coat check, intermission, or food/beverage service. Nonetheless, La Bellissima and spouse were in top form, and those who were able to obtain a ticket to the performance certainly weren’t disappointed.

    Frankfurt

    The Frankfurt Opera opened its doors again at the end of May for a Liederabend by soprano Maria Bengtsson, with strict safety protocols in place. Only 100 attendees were permitted in the auditorium of the Large House, which normally seats 1,400, and the same restrictions were observed at the 15 June concert by baritone Željko Lučić and pianist Mario Antonio Marra, who presented a program of Lieder and opera arias. The small, enthusiastically applauding audience didn’t seem to mind hearing the opera selections accompanied by a piano rather than an orchestra.

    In all three cities, the artists just seemed to be happy to be performing again, and audience members happy to be able to attend a performance again. I didn’t get the impression that anyone thinks these sorts of arrangements are a long-term solution, but rather a step forward in a gradual return to normal conditions – whenever that may be.

    There is also a review of the Halle Handel Festival’s Handel Day program from 6 June, but all of the concerts and other events were shown live on YouTube rather than with an actual audience present at the city’s Handel House. Many of today’s leading artists in the Baroque repertoire participated, among them Valer Sabadus, Daniel Behle, and the new countertenor star Samuel Mariño, and those interested can still view the performances on YouTube.

  18. #26
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Ohio's public health director has just signed an order permitting the reopening of (among other venues) concert and music halls. Of course, there is a long list of safety protocols that must be observed, by performers, audience members, and venue employees, for this to happen. I suppose this is good news, but I'm still inclined to wait for a COVID-19 vaccine before attending any sort of public gathering again. I'm glad the opera season here won't begin until mid-June of next year, by which time I fervently hope this pandemic will be under control.

  19. #27
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    This is a mixed bag, but at least it is giving some support to the performers.

    Michigan Opera Theatre has partnered with the city of Detroit to offer a series of live performances with Opera in the Park! The program features a free performance from our MOT Studio and MOT Touring Ensemble, including an accessible mix of favorites from opera, Broadway and the American songbook!
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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