New Web Site, “The Opera Platform,” Lets You Watch La Traviata and Other First-Class Operas Free Online

la traviata
Click the image above to watch Verdi’s La Travi­a­ta.

Opera has always had its appre­ci­a­tors, and fer­vent ones at that, but in recent decades the form has had to extend its appeal beyond its inner cir­cle of die-hard fans. Some of these efforts, such as the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Oper­a’s high-def­i­n­i­tion broad­casts to movie the­aters around the world, have proven sur­pris­ing­ly suc­cess­ful, encour­ag­ing the low­er­ing of oper­a’s bar­ri­er to entry. Now, thanks to a site called The Opera Plat­form, you don’t have to go to a the­ater of any kind; you can watch full-length per­for­mances any­where with an inter­net con­nec­tion.

In order to pro­mote itself as “the online des­ti­na­tion for the pro­mo­tion and enjoy­ment of opera” designed to “appeal equal­ly to those who already love opera and to those who may be tempt­ed to try it for the first time,” The Opera Plat­form offers one “show­case opera” per month, view­able free, in full, with sub­ti­tles avail­able in six dif­fer­ent lan­guages. It also pro­vides a host of sup­ple­men­tary mate­ri­als, includ­ing doc­u­men­tary and his­tor­i­cal mate­ri­als that put the mon­th’s fea­tured opera in con­text.

The Opera Plat­form is a part­ner­ship between Opera Europa, which rep­re­sents opera com­pa­nies and fes­ti­vals; Arte, the Fran­co-Ger­man cul­tur­al broad­cast­ing chan­nel, and the par­tic­i­pat­ing opera com­pa­nies,” writes the New York Times’ Michael Coop­er. “It has a $4.5 mil­lion bud­get,” Reuters report­ed, “with about half com­ing from the Euro­pean Union’s cul­tur­al bud­get.” So the site cer­tain­ly has its resources in order, but what of its con­tent?

The Opera Plat­form has come strong out of that par­tic­u­lar gate with Verdi’s La Travi­a­ta, pro­duced at Madrid’s Teatro Real, which you can watch for free until August 11. This tale of “the short and hec­tic life and trag­ic death of a high-soci­ety cour­te­san in 19th cen­tu­ry Paris,” as the site’s notes put it, comes told through Verdi’s “music of pro­found human­i­ty” and the stag­ing of famed Scot­tish opera direc­tor David McVicar, “who, with his usu­al ele­gance, sets the dra­ma in a world of roman­tic ref­er­ences while retain­ing an up-to-date per­spec­tive.”

Opera-lovers of pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions could scarce­ly have imag­ined that tech­nol­o­gy would bring this degree of view­ing con­ve­nience to their art form of choice. And now that The Opera Plat­form has got up and run­ning, would-be opera-lovers have no excuse not to get into it, in the com­fort of their own homes or any­where else. And if you want to have some pop­corn while you watch, go for it — nobody’s going to shake their opera glass­es at you.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stephen Fry Hosts “The Sci­ence of Opera,” a Dis­cus­sion of How Music Moves Us Phys­i­cal­ly to Tears

J.S. Bach’s Com­ic Opera, “The Cof­fee Can­ta­ta,” Sings the Prais­es of the Great Stim­u­lat­ing Drink (1735)

Lud­wig Wittgenstein’s Trac­ta­tus Gets Adapt­ed Into an Avant-Garde Com­ic Opera

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­maFol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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  • Robert Firth says:

    The Opera Plat­form should be eat­en by Fafn­er the drag­on. First, the web­site is a total dis­as­ter, over-designed, clut­tered, nav­i­ga­tion buried deep and when found, incon­sis­tent.

    But I per­se­vered, and found one of my favourite operas, Mozart’s Die Zauber­floete. The blurb told me it had been moved to out­er space by a “crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed the­atre direc­tor”. Ah yes: anoth­er arro­gant nonen­ti­ty who regards a work of high art as a chan­ber pot in which to piss his inflat­ed ego. Strike one.

    Then the over­ture — about 30% too fast, rather like a dement­ed organ grinder, Strike two.

    And final­ly the vocals. Sung in Nor­we­gian. No, I am not jok­ing. Sung in Nor­we­gian. You sing opera in the orig­i­nal lan­guage. Always. If it’s a for­eign lan­guage — that’s why the the­atre has sur­titles.

    Good­bye Opera Plat­form.

  • cheesdown says:

    If you Want to down­load opera video from The Opera Plat­form to MP4, to AVI, to MKV, to FLV, etc ‚you may try use Allav­soft.

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