Classical highlights: concerts and opera to watch in May | Classical music


The Royal Opera House makes a belated contribution to the last year’s proliferation of specially conceived online music-theatre pieces, with eight free to view “experimental experiences”. Among them are a guided “listening experience” exploring our relationship with the moon, a web-based “interactive opera experience” featuring music by Brian Irvine, as well as more conventional fusions of words, music and images, some of them convincing, some less so. The music ranges from Handel, Catalani and Tchaikovsky to Anna Meredith and Matt Huxley.
Available on demand until 30 May

Ryedale festival

A week-long celebration of spring from the Yorkshire festival, with seven concerts filmed in collaboration with Castle Howard and the Yorkshire Arboretum at a variety of locations. Clarinettist Michael Collins and pianist Michael McHale launch the series with a programme that includes a clarinet transcription of Beethoven’s Spring Sonata. There are also recitals are given by the piano duo of Pavel Kolesnikov and Samson Tsoy; mezzo Helen Charlston accompanied by festival director Christopher Glynn; the Maxwell Quartet playing Haydn and Anna Meredith; and the London Mozart Players.
Live streamed from 2 to 8 May; all concerts then available on demand until 8 July

Katie Mitchell’s Heal You, part of the Royal Opera House’s 8Bit series
Katie Mitchell’s Heal You, part of the Royal Opera’s 8Bit series Photograph: PR


New offerings from Opera Europa’s streaming site include Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie from Mannheim (from 1 May), Puccini’s Tosca from Stockholm with Malin Byström in the title role (7 May), both filmed this year, and Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in Birmingham Opera Company’s 2019 production (from 14 May). And the Klaipėda State Music Theatre’s 2020 staging of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, performed outdoors in the Lithuanian shipyards just a few kilometres from where Wagner first conceived his opera, is well worth seeking out too.
Each opera available on demand for six months

London Symphony Orchestra

The LSO returns to live performances mid month, with a Barbican concert of Britten, Fauré and Dvořák, conducted by Simon Rattle (18 May); that is followed by two programmes under Michael Tilson Thomas, with pianist Yuja Wang as the soloist (26 and 27, and 30 May). There are pre-recorded streamed concerts too – Gianandrea Noseda’s programme (6 May) includes Nino Rota’s Third Symphony, while Rattle conducts Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, with Magdelena Kozena and Andrew Staples as the soloists (9 May), and a programme of Percy Grainger (13 May).
Barbican, London, 18, 26, 27 and 30 May; Noseda’s concert and Rattle’s Grainger programme streamed free on Marquee TV, 6 and 13 May; Das Lied von der Erde streamed via Live at the Barbican (£), 9 May


John Eliot Gardiner, Elin Chan and Martyn Brabbins conduct this month’s streamed concerts in the Philharmonia’s series, recorded at the Royal Festival Hall. The centrepiece of Gardiner’s all-British programme is Britten’s late cantata Phaedra, with Alice Coote as the soloist; Chan frames Mozart’s Violin Concerto K219, in which Alina Ibragimova is the soloist, with Anna Clyne and Beethoven, while Brabbins’s concert begins with rare Richard Strauss and ends with an orchestral suite from Britten’s opera, Death in Venice.
Available on demand (£) from 7, 13 and 20 May

Yuja Wang
Yuja Wang, performing in Bucharest, Romania, in 2019. The pianist will be in London with the LSO at the end of May. Photograph: Robert Ghement/EPA


The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s annual celebration of new music is an online affair this year. The two days of concerts are a mix of pre-recorded and live streams, and Radio 3 broadcasts. The BBCSSO gives the premieres of works by Michael Parsons and Scott McLaughlin, and violinist Ilya Gringolts introduces solo pieces by Yu Kuwabara and Sky Macklay; other performers include Iain Findlay Walsh, Close Scrape, Sonic Bothy, and Hannah Ellul and Rebecca Wilcox.
Streamed on BBC Sounds and the BBCSSO’s website, 8 and 9 May, and available on demand for 30 days afterwards

La Clemenza di Tito

The Royal Opera welcomes back live audiences with four performances of a new production of Mozart’s last opera seria. It’s directed by Richard Jones, designed by Ultz and conducted by Mark Wigglesworth, with Edgaras Montvidas as Tito, Nicole Chevalier as Vitellia, and Emily D’Angelo as Sesto.
Royal Opera House, London, 17, 19, 21 and 23 May; streamed live on 21 May (£) and then available on demand until 20 June

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Edward Gardner launches the CBSO’s weekly series of concerts before live audiences in Symphony Hall with a programme that frames Mizzy Mazzoli’s Violent, Violent Sea with Saint-Saëns’ Fourth Piano Concerto (with Stephen Hough as the soloist) and Debussy’s La Mer; the following week Nicholas Collon conducts Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments and Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, and Lawrence Power is the viola soloist in Britten’s Lachrymae.
Symphony Hall, Birmingham, 19 and 26 May (each programme played twice)

Glyndebourne festival opera

Tickets are already in short supply for the first two productions in Glyndebourne’s summer season, both of them new. Damiano Michieletto directs Janáček’s Kát’a Kabanová, with Kateřina Knĕžíková in the title role and Robin Ticciati conducting, while Mariame Clément stages Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia.
Glyndebourne Opera House, Lewes, 20 May to 19 June (Kát’a Kabanová), 23 May to 20 June (Turco in Italia)

Concerts at the Maltings

Though there will be no Aldeburgh festival this year, music-making at the Snape Maltings resumes with weekend programmes. There are visits from the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Ryan Wigglesworth (21 May) and the London Symphony Orchestra with Michael Tilson Thomas (31 May), and recitals by mezzo Sarah Connolly (22 May) and pianist Nicholas McCarthy (23 May).
Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, 21 to 23, and 31 May

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