If you haven't heard of StreamOpera – and you're interested in opera – then visit their site to enrich your Christmas hols, as it is full of exciting and unusual titles which can be streamed to your computer.
The Italian opera site is run by Videoerre which has published over 2,000 videos in collaboration with Italian State Television, the Rai, and the private group of channels, Mediaset. In 2013 the company decided to go beyond its geographical borders and create www.streamopera.com. There are currently more than 75 titles available which range from the rare (Schubert's Alfonso und Estrella from Cagliari), and the popular (The Royal Opera's La Traviata from 2009 with Renée Fleming, Joseph Calleja and Thomas Hampson) to the curious (Michael Daugherty's 1997 opera Jackie O. recorded in Bologna in 2008).
Most of the catalogue is made up from productions seen in the major Italian theatres – Verona, Modena, Venice, Parma, Genoa, Palermo, Naples, Turin etc – but also from the Dutch National Opera, the Royal Opera, Madrid's Teatro Real and Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu. Festivals are represented by Macerata, Torre del Lago's Puccini Festival, the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, and the always stimulating Festival della Valle d'Itria in Martina Franca.
To lay my cards on the table, although I don't have a vested interest, the Gramilano Singer's Questionnaires are linked to the site, so don't be puzzled if you see my “eyes are watching you” logo sliding across your screen. That aside, it truly is an interesting place to visit as it is run by people who know what they are talking about because it's associated with the Italian specialist magazine Opera. They have also added video interviews with various singers (in English or subtitled) such as John Osborn and Violeta Urmana. The catalogue is growing rapidly as the company is contacting ever more opera theatres around the world. The catalogue can be searched not only by title or composer, but by singers or costume designers too. StreamOpera has chosen a Dutch server to host its videos which is among the best in the world for its security and signal stability.
The price for a single opera (which allows eight hours for viewing it from when the code is activated) is a reasonable €3.99, but there are various packages available including ten operas for €19.90… ie, half-price.
If you choose to visit the site in the next few days you may be greeted by Simon Keenlyside's armpit – a still from the Royal Opera's Don Giovanni – but don't be alarmed, just scroll down a little to discover the delights of StreamOpera.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.