While auditoriums around the world are temporarily dark, arts and culture organizations are offering unprecedented access to digital theater productions, opera presentations, dance performances, and museum exhibitions.
BMFI presents a curated list of websites that offer similar programs to those we present in our Stage on Screen series, with select recommendations from BMFI’s special programming team, so we can stay connected to the live arts, and each other, during our time apart.
On Thursday, September 24, and Friday, September 25, the annual Philadelphia Music & Arts Festival continues its mission to showcase Philly-area musicians while raising money for local music education programs. This year, the festival is taking place online, but the organizers are taking a unique approach to the virtual presentation. The featured artists (including Japanese Breakfast, Langhorne Slim, Mt. Joy, and more) will play on Ardmore Music Hall’s stage, while the performance, captured in four camera HD audio and video, will be broadcast via free livestream. Learn more on the festival’s website.
Located in Chadd’s Ford, PA, the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art focuses on American illustration and painting and is best known for its collection of work by Andrew Wyeth and the extended Wyeth family. Its digital initiative, Brandywine at Home, encompasses a variety of online content updated on a weekly basis, including virtual tours, curator-led gallery talks, at-home art activities for all ages, and more.
BMFI recommends: The Collection Spotlights video series highlights individual pieces from the museum, with context and commentary offered by the curatorial staff. In the installment on Andrew Wyeth’s “Spring,” curator Audrey Lewis discusses Wyeth’s 1978 symbol-laden portrait of his friend and neighbor, Karl Kuerner.
Presented by London’s famous Royal Albert Hall, this free video series features exclusive sessions by musicians, actors, storytellers, and more from around the globe, performed from their homes.
These days, he may be best known for his roles in Star Trek and X-Men, but Sir Patrick Stewart is a seasoned Shakespearean actor. Proclaiming “A sonnet a day keeps the doctor away,” Stewart has been posting daily readings of the Bard’s sonnets on his Twitter account.
The National Portrait Gallery in London is closed until 2023, but in the meantime, the museum offers a wide selection of resources via its website, including digital exhibitions, online activities for kids and families, and an archive of interviews with artists and subjects (including historical figures such as King George V, Florence Nightingale, and T.S. Eliot).
BMFI recommends: Selected from nearly 2,000 entries by artists from around the world, the BP Portrait Award 2020 exhibition represents the very best in contemporary portrait painting. Explore the show virtually and vote for your favorite portrait!
Based within the University of Pennsylvania, the Sachs Program for Arts Innovation provides grants and other forms of support to artists, cultural centers, and other arts advocates at Penn. Check out its happenings calendar to discover upcoming lectures, performances, exhibitions, and other programs.
OperaStreaming offers a seasonal program of recorded productions from the historical opera houses of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. Although the current season has been cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can still enjoy past streams of La Bohème, Turandot, Falstaff, Cavalleria Rusticana, and Pagliacci, available for free viewing on its YouTube channel.
The New York City-based company Ballet Hispánico has made its virtual performance Noche Unidos: A Night of Dance and Unity available to view for free on its website and YouTube channel. Premiering ten new dance pieces, the program also includes guest appearances by stars like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Gloria Estefan, Rita Moreno, and more.
During its temporary closure, the Whitney Museum of American Art is offering a wide selection of free activities and resources through its website, including weekly art history talks, online art classes for all ages, digital exhibition tours, and more.
BMFI recommends: Take an advance look at the forthcoming exhibit Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925-1945, or go back through the archive to view past shows focused on Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama, Archibald Motley, and many more.
An initiative of the Dutch National Opera & Ballet, this online platform features an ever evolving selection of filmed performances, as well as song and dance workouts, games, and behind-the-scenes footage.
This digital initiative from the London Symphony Orchestra features weekly recitals and performances by LSO musicians, available to watch for free on YouTube. Visit the website to see the upcoming schedule and explore other resources, recommendations, and archival materials.
Visit the San Francisco Ballet’s webpage to see dance films and other digital presentations from leading performers and choreographers (also available for viewing on YouTube and Facebook). Updates are irregular, but the quality of the productions and talent is high.
BMFI recommends: If you’re a dance lover and cinephile, check out “Dance of Dreams”, a new six-minute film from the San Francisco Ballet, directed by Benjamin Millepied and choreographed by Justin Peck, Dwight Rhoden, Janie Taylor, and Christopher Wheeldon. Filmed in various iconic San Francisco locations, the film features the company’s dancers performing to Bernard Hermann’s score for Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. See the trailer here and watch the film for free on their website, YouTube Channel, or Facebook page.
The National Gallery in Washington, DC is home to an expansive collection of paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, photographs, prints, and drawings, spanning the history of Western Art. Though its doors are temporarily closed, you can explore the collection from home through virtual exhibition tours, artist talks, online learning opportunities, and more.
BMFI recommends: Take a virtual tour of the Degas at the Opéra exhibition, dedicated to the painter’s fascination with the 19th-century Paris’s thriving theatrical life.
A multimedia platform created by WNET (the parent company of New York’s PBS stations), All Arts offers a wide variety of arts-related information and streaming content, encompassing dance, music, theater, and more.
BMFI recommends: Opera fans should not miss out on this collection of classic performance footage by Greek-American Soprano Maria Callas, also known as La Divina, one of opera’s greatest and most expressive divas.
Presented by Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, this video series presents highlights from the Curtis Institute archive, curated around themes that change weekly. New videos are added every weekday at noon, available to view for free on YouTube.
BMFI recommends: Film buffs may be most familiar with modernist composer Krzysztof Penderecki through his contributions to movie soundtracks, including The Exorcist, The Shining, and Children of Men. Get to know Penderecki’s work better with this 2019 performance of Sextet, introduced by composer and Curtis Fellow Nick DiBerardino.
BMFI recommends: If you’re working on your moves—or just looking for a fun way to move—while sheltering-in-place, dance along with the Joy of Motion series. Showcasing a wide array of styles, from Latin and Ballroom to Afro-Jazz to belly dance, each installment features an expert-led lesson for beginners.
While Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation is closed, you can still explore their galleries online and check out an array of digital content, from performances and artist conversations streamed live on Instagram to the daily Barnes Takeout video series, focusing on select pieces from the collection.
BMFI recommends: Gund Family Chief Curator Nancy Ireson joined us in February 2019 at our screening of The Mystery of Picasso. In this installment of the Barnes Takeout, Ireson offers a detailed introduction to Pablo Picasso’s 1906 painting The Peasants.
A top-tier venue for dance in the UK, Sadler’s Wells Theatre is offering a variety of online workshops (for families with young children and seniors alike), as well as select dance films via Facebook and YouTube. View the upcoming schedule on their website.
We’ve often screened filmed Shakespeare productions from Canada’s Stratford Festival. Now you can stream a selection of complete productions (along with bonus behind-the-scenes material) for free on the Festival’s Youtube channel. See the upcoming schedule here.
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is home to countless artifacts, structures, and stories, connecting the civilizations of the past to the world we live in today. Their website offers numerous ways to explore the museum from home, from brief digital tours to live-streamed (and archived) lectures. Our favorite feature is the Digital Daily Dig, a series of three-minute video explorations highlighting various artifacts from the Museum’s collection.
One of New York’s premiere spaces for the performing arts, the Lincoln Center’s website features a robust schedule of digital programs, including live concerts, digital workshops, and highlights from its performance archive (including opera, dance, and music).
Opera Philadelphia is presenting its first ever digital opera festival, featuring four premiere operas and one classic, streaming throughout May on its YouTube channel.
BMFI recommends: Don’t miss We Shall Not Be Moved, streaming on YouTube through August 31 as part of Opera Philadelphia’s Digital Festival O. The opera follows five Philadelphia teenagers squatting in the condemned West Philly townhouse that was once the headquarters of the MOVE organization, notoriously bombed by city police during a 1985 standoff. Written by composer Daniel Bernard Roumain and librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, this urgent work combines spoken word, contemporary movement, classical, R&B, and jazz singing, and more.
This local orchestra’s YouTube channel hosts a number of well-filmed performance recordings, and visit their website’s podcast section to hear conversations with Music Director Don Luizzi and other orchestra members.
BMFI recommends: As cinephiles, we were delighted to discover the MLSO’s May 2019 performance of the tense, dramatic “Symphonic Suite from On The Waterfront,” composed by Leonard Bernstein. See it here.
This free web series from New York’s Baryshnikov Arts Center presents a new video every Thursday evening, available to view until the following Tuesday, drawing from its archive of music, dance, and poetry performances. See the schedule here.
Just north of Wilmington, DE, the Winterthur Museum boasts a vast collection of decorative arts objects, as well as a magnificent 60-acre garden. While the museum is temporarily closed, you can pay a vicarious visit through their Facebook page and YouTube channel, which feature numerous virtual room tours and garden strolls.
BMFI recommends: If you’re feeling cooped up, join Garden Curator Carol Long on a calming and informative virtual tour of the flora and foliage in Winterthur’s Spring Garden.
National Theatre Live is responsible for some BMFI’s most popular theater offerings. After several months, their series of free digital presentations has come to an end, but there’s still plenty of great content on their YouTube channel, from behind-the-scenes-videos to performer conversations to craft activities.
Founded in 1798, this Amsterdam institution is among the world’s most renowned museums, featuring works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, and many more. Its website offers a high quality virtual tour experience, allowing visitors to view selected works in high-res, accompanied by written materials and audio guides.
This YouTube channel has now completed an initial series of Andrew Lloyd Webber broadcasts and a subsequent series of other Broadways hits, but a new series is supposedly on its way in late summer. Visit their page to see clips of previous presentations, and for news about upcoming offerings.
Last year would have marked Merce Cunningham’s 100th birthday. Dive into the seminal dancer/choreographer’s oeuvre with an abundance of performance footage on the Trust’s Dance Capsules page, Vimeo site, and YouTube channel.
Tune in to the famed venue’s website, Facebook, and Instagram page for live-streamed performances and conversations featuring some of the world’s finest musical artists. Visit the website for a schedule of upcoming broadcasts.
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is making select performance videos available for free, presented on a rotating basis. Check the website to see the scheduled offerings.
The Met Opera continues its nightly series of archival performances, with a new stream added every night at 7:30 pm and available for 23 hours. See the upcoming schedule here.
92nd Street Y has an expansive archive of filmed concerts, dance performances, lectures, and other cultural events, available for free streaming. In the coming weeks, they will also be livestreaming some of their scheduled events
BMFI recommends: Misty Copeland tells the inspiring story of her ballet journey in this conversation with Gayle King and Nelson George. After that, just try to resist shaking a leg to this performance by New Orleans greats Rebirth Brass Band.
The Bavarian State Opera, housed in the National Theatre Munich, will be providing free livestreams of ballets, operas, and concerts from their website, some of which will be available for an additional 30 days via video-on-demand
CMS of Lincoln Center offers free livestreams, weekly curated playlists and daily releases of archival video and audio. Stream concerts, lectures, master classes, and Meet the Music programs
BMFI recommends: This year marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. Celebrate with this series of lectures and performances, discussing all of Beethoven’s String Quartets.
As Broadway is temporarily on hiatus, watch stage actors give live performances from the comfort and safety of their homes. The performances are free, with an option to donate directly to Broadway artists.
BMFI recommends: Need your showtunes fix? Carolee Carmello belts out “Before the Parade Passes By” from Hello Dolly, made famous on film by Barbara Streisand!
Virtually tour over 1,200 of the world’s leading museums and archives with Google Arts & Culture
BMFI recommends: Explore some of the world’s finest film archives and exhibits via these digital tours!
Silent Films: Second Life from the National Film Archive in Warsaw
Apple takes us on a 5-hour plus journey through St. Petersberg’s Hermitage Museum, captured in a single take on an iPhone.
This PBS mainstay showcases standout concerts and performances, with select productions available online in their entirety for free for a limited time. Full access is available through the PBS Passport, included with a WHYY Membership. Check out the schedule of upcoming programs on the WHYY-TV website and view the newly announced line-up of free streaming stage offerings here.
BMFI recommends: Shot on various locations around Budapest, the Royal Ballet’s film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, featuring choreography by Kenneth MacMillan and a majestic score by Sergei Prokofiev, is available to view for free online via PBS’s Great Performances series. Catch it before it stops streaming on October 9!
Tiny Desk Concerts is a free video series of live concerts hosted by NPR Music at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen.
With their #OurHouseToYourHouse initiative, the London-based company is offering a host of content on its YouTube and Facebook pages, including full-length operas and ballets, musical masterclasses, and more.
This historic company has wrapped up its series of free presentations, but Shakespeare fans can still find readings, short performances, learning resources, and other materials on their website.
Presented by the Fisher Center for Performing Arts at Bard College, this free “virtual stage” adds new content every Wednesday, including music, theater, dance, opera, and more.