While the Met Opera is closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it continues to offer extraordinary entertainment through its Nightly Opera Streams. The performances, originally captured as live broadcasts, begin at 7:30 PM on the company’s website.
Mascagni's 'Cavalleria Rusticana' & Leoncavallo's 'Pagliacci'
Tues, July 20
Equally scandalous when they premiered separately in the late 19th century, these two short operas, often presented as a double bill, show just how searing and soapy opera can be. In Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, a lay-about villager leaves the girl he’s impregnated for another man’s wife. And in Pagliacci, a tortured clown plots against his beautiful young wife, whom he suspects of carrying on with another man. Neither ending is happy; each is exquisite.
'Les PIêcheurs de Perles' by Bizet
Wed, July 21
After Carmen, this is Bizet’s “other” great masterpiece, a passionate romance well stocked with the kind of melting melodies that put the young composer on the 19th-century Parisian map. The opera tells of two fisherman friends who lock horns over a demure yet vocally powerful priestess of Brahma, who is herself torn between piety and her own powerful desires. Its lyrical centerpiece, a soul-stirring duet for the two men in the first act, remains one of opera’s greatest hits.
'Les Contes d'Hoffmann' by Offenbach
Thurs, July 22
A triptych of operatic vignettes based on the stories of E. T. A. Hoffmann, Offenbach’s late masterpiece about a poet’s three great loves may seem a light, frilly fantasia on its surface (it was a hit at the Parisian Opéra-Comique when it premiered in 1881), but it reveals hidden depths as the night wears on. A ravishing trio of singers portray Hoffmann’s beloveds—animatronic doll, diva, courtesan—with each showcasing alluringly different shades of the soprano voice.
'La Fille du Régiment' by Donizetti
Fri, July 23
One of the most ebullient works in the repertoire, Donizetti’s delightful comedy is the unlikely tale of a bright, headstrong young woman who has been raised among a French army regiment. When, much to the dismay of the doting but overprotective soldiers, Marie falls in love with the Tyrolean villager Tonio—a touchstone tenor role that overflows with both youthful ardor and ringing high notes (including nine top Cs in the aria “Ah! Mes amis … Pour mon âme”)—hilarity and virtuosic bel canto crossfire ensue.
'Il Trovatore' by Verdi
Sat, July 24
Verdi’s turbulent tragedy of four characters caught in a web of family ties, politics, and love is a mainstay of the operatic repertory. The score is as melodic as it is energetic, with infectious tunes that are not easily forgotten. The vigorous music accompanies a dark and disturbing tale that revels in many of the most extreme expressions of Romanticism, including violent shifts in tone, unlikely coincidences, and characters who are impelled by raw emotion rather than cool logic.
'Un Ballo in Maschera' by Verdi
Sun, July 25
Verdi can always be counted on for passion, intrigue, and betrayal—and to make glorious music of it all. Un Ballo in Maschera, concerning a plot to murder King Gustavo III of Sweden, who also happens to be in love with his best friend and counselor’s wife, is no exception. With a principal cast featuring a powerful and dignified leading lady, a character role for soprano as young man, an otherworldly mezzo-soprano fortune-teller, a heroic tenor, and a suave and conflicted baritone, it’s Italian opera at its finest.