My finds for Culture Picks this week are all virtual. Access this wide variety of musical performances – classical and contemporary, audio and visual, free and ticketed – from the comfort of your living room.
NPR Music presents
A Strange Loop: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert
A Strange Loop won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2020; today it is the most Tony Award-nominated show of the season! For this Tiny Desk (Home) Concert, the cast of A Strange Loop sings a five-song medley from the show. According to composer Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop is “a musical about a young Black gay man named Usher who works as an usher at a Broadway show who is writing a musical about a young Black gay man named Usher who works as an usher at a Broadway show… who is caught in a self-referential loop of his own self-hatred.” The show at the Lyceum clocks in at 100 minutes with no intermission. Even in this 20-minute Tiny Desk (home) version, it’s easy to get caught up in Usher’s whirlwind of emotions as his thoughts torment him.
Watch and listen to “A Strange Loop” Tiny Desk Concert on NPR.org
Great Performances: Anything Goes
Sutton Foster, who is now starring opposite Hugh Jackman in “The Music Man” on Broadway, leads this recorded stage performance of “Anything Goes,” the musical comedy that pairs at-sea romance with Cole Porter songs. This production, from Kathleen Marshall, leans into the musical’s age (its first Broadway production was in 1934), with throwback Art Deco sets and costumes — and words to match. It’s “a farrago of zinger-stocked dialogue, vaudeville-style antics, and musical numbers only pretending to co-exist as a coherent plot,” Ben Brantley wrote in his review for The Times. Foster, Brantley wrote, acts as “an evangelist of musical-comedy joy.”
Watch “Anything Goes” on PBS.org
The Metropolitan Opera presents Two Free Live Audio Streams
Akhnaten, by Philip Glass
Thursday, May 19, at 7:25pm
Philip Glass’s mesmerizing modern masterpiece—a smash-hit in its 2019 company-premiere run—returns in Phelim McDermott’s unforgettable production, which brings ancient Egypt to vivid life with striking stage tableaux and a troupe of jugglers. Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo reprises his celebrated turn as the revolutionary pharaoh Akhnaten, with mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb as his wife and queen, Nefertiti. Once again at the helm is conductor Karen Kamensek, a noted master of Glass’s music.
La Bohème, by Giacomo Puccini
Tuesday, May 24, at 7:55pm
The Met celebrates the 40th anniversary of Franco Zeffirelli’s beloved staging with three exceptional casts appearing as Puccini’s young bohemians. This evening’s performers include soprano Eleonora Buratto as the ill-fated seamstress Mimì, alongside tenor Matthew Polenzani as her lover, the poet Rodolfo. Soprano Aleksandra Kurzak and baritone Quinn Kelsey are the on-again-off-again pair Musetta and Marcello, with Eun Sun Kim conducting.
Access Met Opera audio streams on MetOpera.org
MCC Theater presents
Virtual Gala premiere Sunday, May 22, 7pm
Available on-demand until Wednesday, May 25
Want to hear Audra McDonald and Kelli O’Hara duet on “Lily’s Eyes”? MCC Theater’s Miscast22 – where Broadway’s hottest stars perform songs from roles in which they would not traditionally be cast – was filmed live at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom in April so we could share it with the world. This virtual edition of MCC’s celebrated annual gala event, including cast interviews, is not to be missed. Funds raised from Miscast help MCC Theater produce exciting new work Off-Broadway, provide programs for emerging artists and support our Youth Company and in-school partnerships that serve New York City public high school students. ALL ACCESS TIX for Miscast22 begin at $30; they include Miscast22 Revue, Backstage Interviews, Behind-the-Scenes Footage, and more! Any amount above $30 is a fully tax-deductible donation to support MCC Theater. Only 1 ticket is needed per household.
Get tickets to access Miscast22
The Library of Congress presents
ARC Ensemble: Music from Suppressed Voices: Émigrés to Israel
Premiere Tuesday, May 24, 8pm
Then on demand
The ARC Ensemble musicians (Artists of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Canada) are considered among Canada’s leading cultural ambassadors. Its 20-year history of excellent concerts and superbly-produced recordings documents the ensemble’s focus on the research and rediscovery of music suppressed and marginalized under the 20th century’s repressive regimes. Émigrés to Israel reclaims noteworthy works by three composers who escaped Europe under Nazi domination to find a haven in Palestine. Featuring: Erika Raum, violin; Marie Berard, violin; Steven Dann, viola; Tom Wiebe, cello; Joaquin Valedepeñas, clarinet; Kevin Ahfat, piano
Paul Ben-Haim | Clarinet Quintet, op. 31a
Verdina Shlonsky | Hora Danse, for violin and piano
Franz Crzellitzer | Piano Quintet
Watch and listen to ARC Ensemble/Music from Suppressed Voices: Émigrés to Israel
All times are EDT unless otherwise noted.
Pictured: Tiny Desk Concert featuring the cast of A Strange Loop © A Strange Loop / NPR