Usually, Bachtrack is keen to get you to the world’s opera houses and concert halls. After all, we started as a listings site and hundreds of thousands of you visit each month to search for events. But not everyone is within easy reach of a concert hall, hence the introduction of our Video section in 2017, sharing live streaming and on demand offerings from our partners – currently the Gothenburg Symphony, the Bergen Philharmonic and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. And in the current climate with severe restrictions causing the enforced closure of many halls and houses, we have thrown the net wide to investigate the streaming possibilities available to our readers. And the answer is clearly a lot! I have shamelessly cherry-picked the best and offer you a guide to them. 

OperaVision has a great range of productions available on demand, drawn from a wide range of houses. Supported by the European Union's Creative Europe programme, OperaVision works with 29 partners from 17 countries, each of which offers one of its productions to share – free – on the site for a limited period (usually six months, sometimes longer). There are some real winners in the current catalogue, including Garsington Opera’s joyous Bartered Bride from last summer’s festival, Jenůfa from Brno, La Cenerentola (Tara Erraught on sparkling form with Irish National Opera) and the very recent Turn of the Screw from Opera North. But there’s really rare repertoire too: Korngold’s Violanta (Teatro Regio Torino), Schreker's Der ferne Klang (Royal Swedish Opera) and Moniuszko’s Halka (Poznan Opera). 

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo in <i>Don Carlos</i> © Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège
Ildebrando D'Arcangelo in Don Carlos
© Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège

Baroque nuts are well served by Handel productions from the Göttingen Festival which can be streamed for free on NDR’s website. France TV offers a number of productions from Wallonie-Liège, including its recent Don Carlos (the full five act version in French) which Ako Imamura reviewed very positively. Another recent Don Carlo (this time Verdi’s four-act Italian revision) found favour with Laura Servidei and is available from La Fenice in full on Youtube. OperaStreaming – okay, not the most imaginative name but it does what it says on the tin – offers streams/on demand from opera houses in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. Modena’s La bohème is of particular interest as it is directed by star baritone, Leo Nucci. L’Opéra de Paris is going to stream some of its content. Available until 22nd March, I’ll be keen to watch the recent production of Massenet’s Manon starring Pretty Yende, Benjamin Bernheim and Ludovic Tézier. Another recent France TV Culturebox treat – recorded in Versailles just last week – is Les Siècles under François-Xavier Roth playing two Beethoven symphonies

Katrin Röver and Jennifer Davis in <i>Leonore</i> © Wiener Staatsoper | Michael Pöhn
Katrin Röver and Jennifer Davis in Leonore
© Wiener Staatsoper | Michael Pöhn

Arte has a decent range of content (not always available in all regions), including the new Wiener Staatsoper Leonore (the original version of Fidelio, directed by Amélie Niermeyer. It’s a controversial production in that Jennifer Davies (Leonore) has an actor “double” who voices her conscience. I found it worked quite well until a quirky twist in Act 2… David Karlin wrote rapturously about the Franc Aleu’s new Turandot at the Liceu last year, especially the videography. He’ll doubtless be reliving the experience, especially as it features the “A” list cast that he missed. 

Arte also has an excellent range of concerts. There are some Vienna Symphony offerings from its recent reconstruction of Beethoven’s 1808 Akademie. But there’s lighter fare too, including an Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France programme from Paris’ lovely Maison de la Radio dedicated to Les Six, including Darius Milhaud’s surrealist ballet Le Bœuf sur le toit

Screenshot of Arte's France Musique broadcast
Screenshot of Arte's France Musique broadcast

London’s chamber music jewel Wigmore Hall streams some of its content for free both on its own website and via Youtube. I can’t wait to watch Stephen Hough and the Castalian String Quartet in Carl Frühling’s gorgeous – and practically unknown – Piano Quintet again and Francesco Piemontesi’s all-Schubert recital is also pretty special. 

In Germany, SWR Classic has a number of concerts featuring the SWR Symphonieorchester. Try Mahler’s Ninth conducted by enfant terrible / genius / maverick (delete as necessary) Teodor Currentzis. Across the (now closed) border, France Musique streams a number of concerts, including Barbara Hannigan conducting the OPRF in a Hungarian programme spiced with paprika.  

Diana Damrau and Juan Diego Flórez in <i>La traviata</i> © Marty Sohl | Met Opera
Diana Damrau and Juan Diego Flórez in La traviata
© Marty Sohl | Met Opera

Some subscription services have been quick to open up their archives for free. The Metropolitan Opera’s “Met on Demand” is making a different opera available each day during the coronavirus closure. There are some gems in there. This week alone includes the company’s new Traviata (with Diana Damrau and Juan Diego Flórez from 2018), the classic Robert Carsen Eugene Onegin (with Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Renée Fleming in 2007, and Lucia di Lammermoor (starring Anna Netrebko in 2009 before she moved into the Verdi “big gun” roles). Nightly Met Opera Streams will begin at 19:30 EDT but don’t worry if you’re in Europe and visualising having to watch through the night; each opera will be online for 20 hours so, unless you’re a real night owl, next day catch-up is your best bet. 

The Wiener Staatsoper’s “live@home” service is also being raided on a daily basis for free streaming. Where possible, they are trying to replicate the programme of operas which have fallen to cancellations, so look out for Sven-Eric Bechtolf’s production of Wagner’s Ring, Otto Schenk’s charming L’elisir d’amore (with Olga Peretyatko) and Jean-Louis Martinoty’s Le nozze di Figaro (with Adam Platchetka and Andrea Carroll as the happy couple). The Staatsoper casualty of my own aborted trip to Vienna was Margarethe Wallmann’s classic (1958!) Tosca, so I’m pleased to see it will run three times before the end of March… each with a different cast! Take your pick from María José Siri, Sondra Radvanovsky or Karine Babajanyan… or plump for all three! 

Concert-wise, the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall is now completely free! Visit the site and use the voucher code BERLINPHIL by 31st March to enjoy some amazing content that reaches back to the Herbert von Karajan years. The DCH website crashed as soon as the news was announced, but stabilised the following day.  

The Royal Ballet in Christopher Wheeldon's <i>Alice's Adventures in Wonderland</i> © ROH | Johan Persson
The Royal Ballet in Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
© ROH | Johan Persson

Of the regular classical subscription sites, Medici has an excellent range of opera, ballet and concerts available. Some of its content is available on "replay", for which you only have to register to gain access. Most of its content (at present) is on subscription. We’ve added some of the plum opera and ballet productions. My favourites are David McVicar’s outstanding British Raj meets Bollywood Giulio Cesare from Glyndebourne, George Balanchine’s Jewels from the Mariinsky Ballet and Lauren Cuthbertson on irresistible form in Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Like Alice though, once you go down the rabbit hole of streaming, you’ll be lost. For days. Weeks. Which should keep you going nicely, given the circumstances…