On March 12, a scant two and a half months after the international medical community described a new severe respiratory disease that today we all know as COVID-19, America’s cultural heart, New York City, stopped beating. Ahead of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s March 20 executive order closing “non-essential businesses,” nightclubs, theaters, concerts halls, libraries and other arts institution for which the city is known announced temporary closures in hopes of containing and controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Among the casualties was the 137-year-old Metropolitan Opera, which on that date announced the cancellation of all rehearsals and 21 performances that had been scheduled through the end of the month.
Nearly six months on, The Met remains dark, like so many other cultural organizations across the country and around the world. Closer to home, the Grand Teton Music Festival cancelled its 2020 season and much of the rest of its programming, including its presentation of “The Met: Live in HD” broadcasts — live performances captured by camera crews and shown in theaters and auditoriums in thousands of communities.
But the storied opera house remains committed to getting its work in front of audiences with its “Nightly Met Opera Streams,” a free series of encore performances and classic telecasts, via its website, MetOpera.org. They also can be views through the Met Opera on Demand app for Apple, Amazon and Roku and Samsung Smart TV.
This week’s lineup offers some high points from 20th- and 21st-century repertoire, including John Adams’s “Nixon in China,” Alban Berg’s “Lulu” and Thomas Adés’s “The Tempest,” all available for 23 hours after they go online at 7:30 p.m. EDT each day.
Also, for 48 hours over the Labor Day weekend, The Met will offer the first streaming of its sold-out, critically acclaimed production of George and Ira Gershwin’s masterpiece “Porgy and Bess.” Met stalwart Eric Owens and the radiant Angel Blue star in the title roles, with Golda Schultz as Clara, Latonia Moore as Sereana, Frederick Ballentine as Sportin’ Life and Alfred Walker as Bess’s cruel man Crown.
Next week, The Met presents an all-French roster, including Jules Massenet’s “Werther” with Jonas Kaufmann in the title role, Charles Gounod’s take on “Romeo and Juliet,” Hector Berlioz’s “Le Damnation de Faust” and Georges Bizet’s “Les Pêcheurs de Perles.”
In addition to combing through 14 years of recorded performances, The Met also has been presenting pay-per-view “Met Stars Live in Concert,” with some of opera’s leading men and women performing live via satellite from Europe and the U.S.
“The series marries the intimacy of The Met’s virtual ‘At-Home Gala’ with the high production value of the company’s ‘Live in HD’ series,” the organization writes on its webpage.
On deck is American mezzo Joyce DiDonato performing from Germany set for Sept. 12, followed by Piotre Beczala and Sondra Radvanovsky on Sept. 26, Anna Netrebko on Oct. 10, and Diana Damrau and Joseph Calleja on Oct. 24.
Tickets to “Met Stars Live in Concert” cost $20. Performances run about 75 minutes and are available o demand for 12 days each.
For information about the Nightly Streams, including notes on casts and productions, the complete “Met Stars” schedule or making a gift to the institution’s Emergency Campaign, visit MetOpera.org. ￼