Michael White’s classical & jazz news: Carols from King’s; New York Met; Vienna State Opera
24 December, 2020 — By Michael White
Carols from King’s College, Cambridge, are a little different this year
IT’S hard to know what’s left of Christmas after Covid and B Johnson have between them done their worst, but there certainly won’t be any singing. And at King’s College, Cambridge the most celebrated carol service in existence is cancelled – something even Adolf Hitler failed to achieve. Though the choir has managed to pre-record something in an empty chapel, and it will slot into the usual broadcast time of 3pm Christmas Eve (Radio 4), repeating 1pm Christmas Day (Radio 3), with continued access on the BBC Sounds app.
There were also problems filming the quite separate TV Carols from King’s because two of the adult choral scholars tested positive for the virus, which threw the back row into quarantine. But the secular King’s Singers have stepped into the breach to perform instead, beside the boys. This adapted version broadcasts 5.30pm, BBC2, on Christmas Eve, with subsequent access on the iPlayer. To follow the texts and maybe hum along discreetly in the isolation of your Tier 4 bathroom, you can print a download from the college website: www.kings.cam.ac.uk/choir It won’t be the same, but what is?
• Happily the daily webcasts from New York Met go into overdrive during the Christ’s period, with that ultimate festive favourite Hansel and Gretel on Christmas Day, followed by Merry Widow (with Renee Fleming) on Boxing Day and Falstaff on Dec 27. Then, as from Dec 28, there’s a week-long celebration of Pavarotti that runs through some of his greatest roles from the 1970s-90s: in Boheme, Tosca, Trovatore, Ballo in Maschera… a treasure trove. Opera on TV has a lot of disadvantages, but Pavarotti minimises them. He’s not a vigorously agile actor, the camera doesn’t have to jump around. And with a larger-than-life presence, he fills out the screen. Even with distant shots, the massive open mouth, the glistening white teeth, the bell-like voice leap out at you. So make the most of it. Full details on the website, www.metopera.org – And there’s a whole batch of helpful supportive material on the site to enhance your viewing experience. All completely free.
• Not free, but worth the $20 access fee if you like a spot of glitz, is the New York Met’s online New Year’s Eve Gala which comes – for logistical reasons – not from New York but from the Baroque Parktheater, Augsburg in Germany. It screens live at 9pm GMT. And it’s not as though you’ll have any parties to go to, so you might as well raise a glass for a better 2021 with stars like Pretty Yende, Angel Blue and Matthew Polenzani. Booking: www.metopera.org
• Of course, the place to be at New Year is Vienna. Normally. And though there won’t be revelling in the Stephansplatz this year, you can imagine yourself there with the free webcasts offered over the holidays by the Vienna State Opera. Dec 26 has another Hansel and Gretel (you can compare/contrast the previous day’s show from the Met). Dec 27 has a sumptuously traditional Rosenkavalier. And Dec 28 a Magic Flute. Access details at www.wiener-staatsoper.at – And don’t worry that the website is in German: there’s an English-language button at the top right!