Vissi d’Opera On Demand

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It's like this but the screen is much smaller and you don't get fancy seats.

It’s like this but the screen is much smaller and you don’t get fancy seats.

This past week, the libraries rolled out an exciting new resource: Columbia students now have free access to Met Opera On Demand, which features video and audio recordings of operas live from the Met. We combed through the catalog to find what you should be watching. Also note that today WKCR is honoring Benjamin Britten’s Centennial (what a year!), and you should probably check that out.

If you’re into…

…the classics:

  • 1985’s Aida, featuring the stunning farewell performance of Leontyne Price. Nobody handles a 4-minute ovation for one song quite like Leontyne.
  • 1977’s La Boheme with Pavarotti and Renata Scotto. It’s like RENT but better music!
  • 1979’s Otello with Placido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes. Blackface! Shakespeare! Oh god political incorrectness!


  • 2000’s Don Giovanni with Bryn Terfel, Renee Fleming, Ferruccio Furlanetto, and John Relyea. There’s an aria where the Don’s servant lists how many women Giovanni has slept with. It’s a lot. And the whole plot is a hunt for more.
  • 2010’s Carmen. Hi there, Elina Garanča.
  • Le Comte Ory from 2011 with Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau, and Joyce DiDonato (swoon x3). Not making any promises here, but this may and may not end in a threesome.


  • 2011’s Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn) with Anna Netrebko HELLLL YESSSS. Badass females, badass voices.
  • Only to be one-upped by 2013’s Maria Stuarda (Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots) with Joyce DiDonato HOLYY SHITTT if you want to see a perfect opera—production, music, performance—watch this recording.
  • Don Carlo, 2010, with an awesome production by Nicholas Hytner and a great cast.

…ladies in blood-stained wedding gowns:

  • 1982’s Lucia di Lammermoor with the incomparable Joan Sutherland. You can also hear Sutherland in her earlier years audio recordings of Lucia, including from her 1961 debut season.
  • 2011’s Lucia di Lammermoor with Natalie Dessay because fuck you Anna Netrebko, this is Natalie’s role.
  • Highlight: Maria Callas’s only broadcast from the Met is 1956’s Lucia. Hop to it.

…good fun:

  • Nothing is as giddy as 2010’s Don Pasquale with Netrebko and Mariusz Kwiecien. Blast of laughs, barrel of fun.
  • La Fille du Regiment, 2008, Juan Diego Florez breaks a 14 year ban on solo encores at the Met because he’s just that good. It’s still thrilling, 5 years later.
  • 2006’s Magic Flute. Everyone’s starter opera. The dancing bears will make you feel like you’re 4-years-old.
  • Faust from 2011 with René Pape, Marina Poplavskaya, and the gorgeous Jonas Kaufmann.  LOL JK THIS IS DARK AS FUCK. But René’s awesome.
  • 2009’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Oh this opera is so great and Bwog is overdue in watching it again.


  • Madame Butterfly, 2009. 1. This stage is breathtaking. 2. Cultural appropriation/feminism/political incorrectness/ok Puccini. 3. Nope, crying too much to talk more about it.
  • 2010’s Hamlet with Simon Keenlyside, the 50-year-old whom Bwog is weirdly super attracted to. Shakespeare, man. Things get weird.
  • La Traviata from 2012, with Matthew Polenzani (always on point), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (who you probably saw in much different form as Rigoletto for Music Hum this week), and Natalie Dessay (will break your damn heart). Added bonus: the mix of Hvorostovsky and Dessay’s voices in Act II is actually just astoundingly beautiful, even if Natalie wasn’t at her best for this run.


  • Lucky you: there are old and new versions of the Ring Cycle, for you to decide who did Wagner right.
  • Get your dose of Eva Marton in 1982’s Tannhäuser and 1986’s Lohengrin, both conducted by James Levine.
  • For more Levine loveliness, watch 1992’s Parsifal and 1999’s Tristan und Isolde.


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  1. Noooo

    Nooo Anna was so much better than Natalie Dessay

  2. Anonymous

    youtube(.)com/watch?v=ldDaIfTnCuc Natalie tried to trip Anna up but Anna was like, noo I'm ready for you

  3. but but but  

    also, in anna's defense, though her mad scene was underwhelming and her coloratura was not exactly spot on (still figuring out her new voice after the baby), when was the last time we had such a full-voiced lucia? good reminder that lucia is far more than a simple light coloratura role sung by dessay and pons!

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