Let the music play: classical music and opera in 2020

Let the music play: classical music and opera in 2020December 16, 2020

The live audiences stopped but the music making didn’t, with some companies rising with imagination and verve to the challenges of 2020, with operas that were drive-in, animated, or simply brand new

When I left the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London after Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s recital on 10 March, I little imagined that it would be the last “normal” concert I would attend this year. It was already clear by then that Covid was likely to bring at least a temporary halt to British musical life, but few would have imagined concert halls and opera houses would remain empty for much of the year.

There would be no more public concerts in the UK until August. One by one, all the summer festivals were cancelled, and music-making went entirely online. Singers and instrumentalists gave impromptu recitals from their homes; opera houses and orchestras across Europe made their video archives available. But new work did still go on: Opera Harmony brought together over 100 opera-makers – composers, librettists, directors, performers – to create a collection of short digital pieces of varying quality; later in the autumn, Vopera’s animated version of Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, directed by Rachael Hewer, proved both charmingly imaginative and musically first-rate.

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