London’s Royal Opera House offers a slate of free programming to stream on-demand
Let’s set the scene: You walk up to London’s Royal Opera House to be greeted by a rotating glass door. You enter, secure your tickets after some pleasant chitchat, and please-excuse-me-thanks-sorry your way to your seat in the theater’s expansive house. Momentarily, a hush falls as the lights dim. The orchestra sounds its first notes. The curtain draws.
Now, open your web browser. Though the scenario above is all but impossible as theaters remain dark, you can watch the Royal Opera House’s programming for free at home. Launched in the wake of sweeping closures, the London institution’s digital offerings present a weekly slate of full-length ballet and opera productions, culled under the banner #OurHouseToYourHouse.
Audiences can stream the programs on-demand via the Royal Opera House Facebook and YouTube pages. In addition to the live-captured performances (which have already included lauded works, such as “The Magic Flute” and “The Metamorphosis”), musical masterclasses and behind-the-scenes videos also fill the lineup of streamable works, all of which are available to view worldwide.
Described as a program of free content for the “culturally curious at home,” the schedule of full-length productions continues this week with the Royal Opera’s “Cendrillon,” which makes its curtain call May 22 at 2 p.m. and stars mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in the title role. Based on Jules Massenet’s French opera version of the Cinderella story, the Laurent Pelly-directed production casts a sophisticated spell that stirs together choreography, set design and bulbous costumes to create a comedic (and visually alluring) rendition of the famed fairy tale.
The Royal Ballet’s 2020 presentation of “The Cellist,” choreographed by Cathy Marston, streams next week, beginning May 29. Inspired by the life and career of cellist Jacqueline du Pré, the ballet tells the love story between the gifted musician — who died at age 42 from multiple sclerosis — and her husband, conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim.
Those wishing to catch up on previous week’s presentations can stream Richard Eyre’s interpretation Verdi’s “La Traviata,” starring Renée Fleming and Joseph Calleja, through May 21. Kenneth MacMillan’s ballet “Anastasia” is available through May 29.
In late April, the Royal Opera House announced the cancellation of all remaining performances through July 23, with the official reopen date remaining “under constant review following direct guidance from the government and Public Health England.” The note went on to thank the institution’s community of artists, craftspeople, backstage staff supporters and audiences.
While the theater has been closed, members of the Royal Opera House costume department have contributed their skills to provide personal protective equipment for England’s National Health Service workers.
“It has been wonderful to see the whole ROH community rally round to support front line carers, medics and ambulance staff in the national fight against Coronavirus,” Alex Beard, chief executive of the Royal Opera House, said. “They’re an amazing team, and we’re so proud of what they are doing. Huge thanks and appreciation to all as we move forwards together through these hugely challenging times.”
Though the Royal Opera House’s #OurHouseToYourHouse content is free to stream, the institution is accepting donations through American Friends of Covent Garden.
Top Image: Rebecca Evans as First Lady and Sabine Devieilhe as Queen of the Night in "The Magic Flute" for the Royal Opera. Photographed by Tristram Kenton.