9 Full-length Operas You Can Watch on YouTube
by Kathleen Sykes
With all of this social distancing going on, we need an opera fix! Although we can’t be in the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre performing live for you, there is a treasure trove of great, full-length operas available online. For example, The Metropolitan Opera is streaming a nightly opera from their archives for free—and Utah Opera’s Principal Coach Dr. Carol Anderson is video previews for each of the streams that are shared on Utah Opera’s Facebook page. Also a few companies like On-site Opera and The American Opera Project have made some great contemporary works like Laura Kaminsky’s As One, Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman, and John Musto and Eric Einhorn’s Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt available online as well.
We wanted to offer a few curated playlists of even more operas for you to watch while we’re all staying home. With this particular list, we wanted to pick a few cheerful, classic operas to brighten your mood! After all, laughter is the best medicine.
Here are nine, full-length operas available on YouTube that you can enjoy from the comfort of your couch:
Rossini’s The Barber of Seville
The YouTube Account OperaVision is a goldmine for great operas. They have a collection of well-known operas, as well as some deep cuts and contemporary works from all over the world available in their library. For those of you who were bummed to miss The Barber of Seville at the JQL Capitol Theatre in March, this production by The National Opera of Chile is pretty great!
Barbieri’s El barberillo de Lavapiés
While we’re on the subject of Spanish barbers, the Teatro de la Zarzuela has a rather charming production of El barberillo de Lavapiés. In fact, one of the numbers in the final act is a popular favorite in our Resident Artists’ school shows! You might have to brush up on your Spanish for this recording, though—the subtitles are in Spanish. Even if your Spanish is rusty, this opera is a lot of fun to watch.
Offenbach’s La Périchole
You’d be hard pressed to find opera music that is more fun than that of Jacques Offenbach. This operetta about two penniless street singers is no exception.
Johann Strauss Jr’s Die Fledermaus
There are just times when only an absurdly frivolous Viennese operetta will do—and being stuck in the house all day is one of those times! This 1983 production pulls out all the stops with the magnificent Kiri Te Kanawa, fabulous costumes, and ballet dancers. There are no English subtitles, but the music is so good you hardly need them. (And let’s be honest, the plot is so ridiculous and frivolous that you don’t need to understand the story anyway.)
Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi
Who knew that an opera about death, fraud, and one of Dante’s circles of hell could be so fun? If you’re a newcomer to opera, Gianni Schicchi is a great way to start. Like most of Puccini’s work, this opera has incredible music. It’s also only an hour long and is absolutely hilarious.
Mozart’s The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute is undeniably a perennial favorite among opera audiences. Its bizarre story, hidden meanings, and beautiful music make it very rewatchable. This production by the Paris Opera is particularly interesting. It creates a world that is somewhere between an ancient fairy land and a modern-day Masonic temple with a feather-clad Papageno, an anthropomorphic hedgehog Monostatos, and a business suit-wearing Sarastro.
Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro
The Marriage of Figaro was the very first opera that I saw live when I was about 12 years old. After years of begging my mom to take me to an opera, she finally gave in and took me to this one with Utah Opera at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre. While she may have regretted taking me to a show with such an… um… unusual plot, I remember loving the music, and I still do! This production by the Garsington Opera has a great cast to showcase the fabulous music.
Rossini’s La Cenerentola
There’s nothing like a feel-good, fairy-tale opera. This imaginative production of the Rossini classic sets the story in a world of toy soldiers and dolls, making it feel particularly magical.
Lisa DeSpain’s No Ladies in the Lady’s Book
We know what you’re probably thinking—after a long list of standard classics that are over an hour, what is a short, contemporary opera doing on this list? Hear us out. We commissioned this from composer Lisa DeSpain and librettist Rachel J. Peters as part of our cultural festival celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Golden Spike. This 14-minute performance is a Christmas Carol-esque take on the men who thought that women didn’t make any significant contribution to the Transcontinental Railroad, and it is a hoot!
Is your favorite opera not on the list? No worries! We’ll keep digging up more so you can get your opera fix.