I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published May 7th 2020
Where to find plays, musicals, ballet and opera online
It's ironic that Covid-19 is causing the (temporary) closure of theatres, yet at the same time making the performing arts far more accessible; I've watched more shows lately than I ever have before. If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's all the productions being uploaded to YouTube and other sites by leading arts organisations, who are hoping to cheer us up and make sure we don't forget them.
From opera to ballet, to traditional theatre, there's so much to see and in almost all cases it's free too. In Australia, we can enjoy productions from local companies as well as the UK, the USA and elsewhere. In the following list, I've compiled some of the most exciting and iconic productions I've found. I've kept the definition of theatre broad, to encompass all of them: pretty much anything a theatre could host.
Shakespeare's Globe Shakespeare's Globe is a venue famous the world over, with the modern Globe Theatre being a reconstruction of the playhouse where Shakespeare's plays were first performed. It's even located only a few hundred metres away from the original site. The theatre typically hosts a series of Shakespeare plays throughout the year and is currently letting people around the world experience them virtually with YouTube Premieres, which sees full archival productions uploaded to YouTube for 14 days, where they can be watched for free.
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Photo by Andrea Vail, courtesy of Flickr.
Another world-class UK institution, the National Theatre, also wants to keep its shows available while it's closed. It has chosen to upload a new show to YouTube every week. At the time of writing, Antony and Cleopatra is about to go up, starring Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo.
Sydney Opera House Sydney Opera House is uploading all sorts of content as part of its 2020 digital season, called From Our Home To Yours. There's conversations, concerts and full theatre productions, including Bangarra'sTerrain and Bennelong. Unlike many other institutions, it's leaving its content up for good too. New content is uploaded daily from Wednesday to Sunday each week.
The Met Opera If you're an opera fan or have ever been curious about the genre, you're in luck: The Metropolitan Opera is releasing a new show online every day. These are complete performances than have taken place throughout the last 14 years and they go up at 7.30pm EDT. You've only got 23 hours to catch them though; they disappear at 6.30pm the next day. Get in quick and check out the program here.
Les Contes d'Hoffmann at the Metropolitan Opera. Photo by Ralph Daily, courtesy of Flickr.
Cirque du Soleil Cirque du Soleil is releasing weekly 60 minute specials on their YouTube channel. These aren't full shows, they're just highlights of past shows, but they are truly unique and a great escape from the world right now.
A shot from the Kooza production. Photo by Derek Key, courtesy of Flickr.
Royal Opera House Like the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Opera House in the UK has its own online program titled From Our House to Yours. It will focus on ballet and opera, and it's currently featuring a 2014 adaptation of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale by The Royal Ballet.
The Royal Opera House. Photo by David Woo, courtesy of Flickr.
Andrew LLoyd Webber Andrew Lloyd Webber is the writer and composer behind some of the most successful musicals out there, including Cats, Phantom of the Opera and Jesus Christ Superstar. He's releasing a play or performance every weekend on a YouTube called The Show Must Go On. They're only up for the weekend though, so get in quick.
The Australian Ballet The Australian Ballet has started uploading full productions to Ballet TV twice a month, with the shows being available for two weeks each. So far Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella have been featuring, and you can currently watch Graeme Murphy's Romeo & Juliet. These can found on the Australian Ballet website or YouTube.
This list focuses on the biggest and most prestigious venues and arts organisations that are suddenly streaming their content, but they're not the only ones posting productions online. Lots of smaller theatres and organisations have uploaded performances too. If you can, check out any near you, support them where possible, and recommend those you think everyone else should know about. These streams may not continue when the Covid-19 pandemic calms down, but the theatres might find themselves with even more patrons when they open up again.