Binge on Opera for Free

Das Reingold

Early in the pandemic, Kelly had to leave town for an extended period to look after a relative. This left me alone in the house under lockdown with plenty of chores do during the day, such as install a floor and ceiling in her office shed, but not much to do at night. The first thing I did was to fill those evening hours with an intemperate binge viewing of Tiger King that left me confused and depressed. Then friend of the blog Lee tipped me off to the Metropolitan Opera’s free nightly streams. I thought that instead of binge watching Netflix shows I’d watch opera, even operas I’m not thrilled with, if just to see what pre-20th century folks binge viewed.

The way the Met’s free streams work is that they release a new one to watch at 3pm each day. You have 23 hours to watch before it goes away and a new one appears. Each opera streams from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. the following day. The streams are available through the Met Opera on Demand apps for Apple, Amazon, and Roku devices and Samsung Smart TV. To access them, without being a paid subscriber, you click “Browse and Preview” in the apps for connected TV, and “Explore the App” on tablets and mobile devices.

Speaking of binge viewing, this week the Met is streaming all (count ’em!) seventeen hours of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle along with Tristan und Isolda, Parsifal and few other Wagner’s hits. Does the story of a magical ring that holds terrible powers and needs to be returned to nature sound like a familiar plot?

Parsifal

Wagner’s Parsifal streams on Sunday the 11th in a striking production the Met did in 2013. Towards the end of the first act is my favorite part, the ringing of the eerie bells of the grail castle, a sound effect for which Wagner constructed a special instrument. And the music that accompanies the appearance of the grail is some of the most beautiful ever written.

If Wagner isn’t to your taste there’s plenty more opera to watch in the Met’s future streaming schedule. Let me just note that this week you may want to catch Götterdämmerung as it’s, shall we say, timely.

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