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The Best of Kanopy: A Night at the Opera

Opera on stage

You may already be aware that with your library card and an internet connection you can use Kanopy to checkout 6 titles each month and that can be streamed on your web browser, iOS, Android, Chromecast, Apple TV, or Roku device. You may also be aware that Kanopy contains thousands of feature films, documentaries, and educational videos. But did you know that with Kanopy you can also watch some of the greatest singers ever recorded perform some of the greatest music ever written from the comfort of your sofa? I’ve created a list of five of my favorite productions currently available to get you started.


Fidelio cover

Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven

Composed during the Napoleonic era, Ludwig Van Beethoven's only opera is an inspired testament to humanity's constant quest for freedom. This critically praised Covent Garden production by Adolf Dresen is powerfully cast and moves at a compelling pace to convey the emotionally charged theme of love and liberty over the forces of evil and oppression. It is a powerfully moving production of an often-neglected work of genius.

Aida cover

Aida by Giuseppe Verdi

"An opera for Cairo!", Verdi is said to have exclaimed. He would certainly have been delighted with this magnificent production. It was a triumphant success when it opened at La Scala in December 1985 and Luciano Pavarotti's long-awaited performance as Radames - his first in Italy - was greeted with rapturous applause. In this live recording of that production, Pavarotti heads an exceptional cast with Ghena Dimitrova, Maria Chiara, and Juan Pons all in peak form.

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Carmen by Georges Bizet

Carmen is the most frequently performed opera in the world. However, it received an extremely negative reaction when it first premiered in 1875. And, unfortunately, Bizet did not live to see its incredible success over time. This dazzling production features authentic flamenco choreography from Cristina Hoyos and is directed by the great Zubin Mehta.

La Bohème  cover

La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini

Luciano Pavarotti and Mirella Freni's incomparable partnership as Rodolfo and Mimi, the tragic lovers in Puccini's much-loved bittersweet opera, is captured for posterity in this live recording from the San Francisco Opera. Francesca Zambello's production boasts a superlative cast with Gino Quilico as Marcello, Nicolai Ghiaurov as Colline, Stephen Dickson as Schaunard and Sandra Pacetti as Musetta. The Italian conductor Tiziano Severini delivers a passionate and seemingly spontaneous reading of the score.

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Satyagraha by Philip Glass

This opera is set in South Africa while Gandhi was formulating his his theory of passive resistance and civil disobedience known as "Satyagraha" as a reaction to the government’s discrimination against the Indian population. With his second opera Glass didn't want to draw a historic portrait of Mahatma Gandhi. Instead he used the example of Gandhi’s work during 1893 and 1914 to draw an outline of current worldwide political and religious problems. This 1983 Stuttgart production conducted by Dennis Russell Davies remains the definitive recording and should not be missed!

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