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The Metropolitan Opera’s At-Home Gala review – thrilling singing, live from the stars’ living-rooms | Music


In many ways, it was quite extraordinary. Streamed on its website, the Metropolitan Opera’s At-Home Gala, featured more than 40 of the house’s regular singers, most of whom performed live via Skype live from their living rooms and studies, or indeed, in the case of Diana Damrau and her husband Nicolas Testé, from their kitchen. General manager Peter Gelb and music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin presided over proceedings from their apartments in New York and Montreal respectively, while prerecorded footage allowed us to see and hear the Met’s orchestra and chorus playing and singing in split-screen around Nézet-Séguin as he conducted.

Technically, it was little short of remarkable as we glided almost seamlessly between continents, countries and time zones. Glitches were few and far between, though a faulty connection to Nicole Car and Étienne Dupuis’s home meant that we arrived ahead of schedule in the house of bass Günther Groissböck, who calmly finished his beer before singing the closing scene from Strauss’s Die Schweigsame Frau. Car and Dupuis were found a slot later in the evening for their performance of the duet at the oasis from Massenet’s Thaïs. Anna Netrebko and her husband Yusif Eyvazov, it was announced, were unable to sing live, so their contributions were prerecorded in what looked like a studio in Vienna.

Outfits ranged from the everyday to the glamorous, with Jonas Kaufmann singing Halévy in a sweater and jeans, and Sonya Yoncheva giving us Dvořák’s Song to the Moon from Rusalka in an evening gown. And you couldn’t help but be sometimes drawn to details of the interiors on display: a placard reading “No autographs, please” on the side of Anita Rachvelishvili’s piano, a beautiful painting on the wall of Michael Fabiano’s living room, and Renée Fleming’s garden, glimpsed beyond her windows, linger particularly in the mind.





Deeply touching … Joyce DiDonato (centre) and the Met’s viola section, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin (top right), sing Handel’s Ombra Mai Fu in tribute to Vincent Lionti, who died of Covid-19.



Deeply touching … Joyce DiDonato (centre) and the Met’s viola section, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin (top right), sing Handel’s Ombra Mai Fu in tribute to Vincent Lionti, who died of Covid-19. Photograph: The Metropolitan Opera

There was some wonderful singing, from Fleming’s Ave Maria from Verdi’s Otello to Netrebko’s impassioned closing performance of Rachmaninov’s song about the old melodies of Georgia. Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak camped it up something rotten in a scene from L’Elisir d’Amore. And there was a deeply touching performance of Ombra Mai Fu, from Handel’s Serse, given by Joyce DiDonato and the orchestra’s viola section in tribute to Vincent Lionti, a Met violist who tragically lost his life to Covid-19. The high point, though, for me, came from Lisette Oropesa, singing an aria from Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable from her house in Baton Rouge: astonishing singing, her coloratura thrilling beyond belief.

The At-Home Gala is available on demand at metopera.org until 6.30pm EST (1.30am BST) Sunday 26 April.

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