Hey, arts lovers out there, remember vacations?
You got on a plane, you went to a bustling, world-class city, filled with bright lights and vast, treasure-filled museums and you spent your evenings ensconced in a plush velvet chair, waiting for the curtain to go up.
Or maybe you just dreamed of doing that — planning someday to visit the National Gallery of Art, in Washington; someday, to step inside the Uffizi Gallery in Italy. Someday, you might have thought, you’d make it to New York to see Broadway shows five nights in a row, and then go to the Metropolitan Opera.
Well, someday is here.
Grab your laptop, because an amazing wealth of cultural opportunities have now opened up online, mostly for free. Think of the benefits of a virtual vacation: no crowds (remember when we merely hated crowds, instead of being terrified of them?), no jet-lag, no restaurant anxiety (as in, which one out of hundreds should I choose), no tired legs from standing in long lines, no wondering what to wear.
Sit. Enjoy. Zone out. See world-class art, and let it take you far away from this unsettling time and place. You’ll be glad you got away.
New York’s Metropolitan Opera is now broadcasting grand operas, nightly.
Each day, a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series is being made available for free streaming, with each performance available for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. the following day. The schedule will include outstanding complete performances from the past 14 years of cinema transmissions, starring all of opera’s greatest singers. The week’s upcoming schedule is as follows:
Thursday, April 9: Wagner’s Parsifal; Friday, April 10: Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette; Saturday, April 11: Donizetti’s Don Pasquale; Sunday, April 12: Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. Visit metopera.org to access the splendor, note by glorious note.
The famed concert hall is now open and free to all, digitally, at digitalconcerthall.com/en/news. Registration allows listeners hundreds of concerts, recordings, documentaries and bonus films.
Oh, London! Go there right now. In April, the National Theatre is releasing a new play every Thursday on YouTube. The star-studded productions are free to watch for one week and accompanied by bonus content including Q&As and post-stream talks. It’s all online at nationaltheatre.org.uk/nt-at-home: James Corden in “One Man, Two Guvnors” until April 8; “Jane Eyre,” April 9-15; “Treasure Island,” from April 16-22; and Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” from April 23-29.
Passport to PBS
Okay, this isn’t free, at $5 per month, it might be the best virtual vacation package ever. Sign up at kcts9.org/show/great-performances/episodes to see amazing Broadway productions including “Kinky Boots,” “The King and I,” “42nd Street” — all part of an on-demand library of 1,500+ titles that have aired on PBS.
Globe-trot to museums
Many of the world’s greatest museums now offer virtual tours of major exhibits. The National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, D.C., offers multiple online exhibits, as does the National Gallery of Art. The Uffizi Gallery, in Florence, Italy, also allows online viewers to look up close at its treasures, as does The British Museum. For a great list of online exhibits and tours, visit wicaonline.org/blog/2020/3/20/virtual-art. Or you can wander the vast digital halls of artsandculture.google.com.
— Special thanks to Whidbey Island Center for the Arts for providing inspiration for this article. Visit WICA for more recommendations online at wicaonline.org.