Over the past 400 or so years, opera has built up quite the reputation. From the goose bump-inducing vocals, to the decadent costumes, companies across the world have delivered time and time again.
Yet it is impossible for anyone to escape the impact of Covid-19, and opera is no exception. Theatres and singers across the world have found the creative landscape changed, almost beyond recognition, as a result of the global pandemic.
The response to coronavirus in cultural spheres has varied, from online auctions to virtual awards ceremonies. The Metropolitan Opera summoned its company to perform an At-Home Gala on Saturday, the world’s greatest voices joining together for just a few hours.
It is believed that the Met stands to lose some $60 million in revenue in May alone and it is as yet unclear what will happen for their next season, supposed to commence in September. Members of their chorus and orchestra have not been paid since mid-March, though their health benefits continue.
Saturday’s impromptu gala brought together some of the most talented operatic stars from across the world, a cohort of over 40 voices transmitting from their homes. Some fortuitous marriages even allowed for a handful of duets.
From Peter Mattei, the renowned baritone, singing Don Giovanni, accompanied by his neighbour on the accordion, to Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak joining together to serenade viewers with Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, the global audience was not disappointed.
Writing for The New York Times, Anthony Tommasini, himself a respected pianist, perhaps summed up the occasion best of all: “We have all sometimes taken opera, and opera houses, and opera singers, for granted. No longer.”
In spite of recent events, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the music director of the company concluded: “Music and the arts cannot be silenced. We shall return.”