From the Australian Ballet to Brandenburg’s Noël!: the best live arts to stream this Christmas

Australia’s arts companies are streaming gorgeous productions this weekend. As a little Xmas treat, we’ve compiled some highlights

Is your Christmas cheer evaporating? Are you doomscrolling yourself into a complete funk? Try putting the phone down, making an eggnog and getting into some tasty online content from Australian arts companies to help inoculate you against the onset of festive season blues.

These gorgeous shows are streaming right now.

Brandenburg Orchestra’s Noël! Noël!

Recorded in Sydney’s City Recital Hall, conducted by Paul Dyer, played on period instruments and featuring the Brandenburg Choir, this is a Christmas-on-a-stick concert of hymns, Baroque cantata, excerpts from Handel’s Messiah and the occasional cheeky surprise. And the mood boost you need right now looks as good as it sounds.

Available to stream here until 4 January.

The Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir performing Noel! Noel! at the City Recital Hall in Sydney.
‘Looks as good as it sounds’: the Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir performing Noel! Noel! at the City Recital Hall in Sydney. Photograph: Bandenburg Orchestra

Pinchgut At Home

A season or single show pass to Pinchgut Opera’s At Home series makes for a great present for a loved one – or for yourself. Among the current offerings from the Sydney-based company include A Delicate Fire (a celebration of the life and music of the remarkable Venetian composer Barbara Strozzi), The Loves of Apollo & Daphne (Cavalli’s opera very wittily directed by Mitchell Butel, which premiered earlier this year) and Messe de Minuit, a concert of the French 17th-century composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s joyous music for the festive season.

Digital season passes are $50. Find out more here.

Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House has partnered with the British Council to present Who Are We Now, a suite of on-demand digital goodies (some to pay-per-view, others free) from some of the UK’s leading theatre companies and choreographers.

The current headliner is the National Theatre of Scotland’s Edinburgh festival hit Adam, a play inspired by the life of Egyptian trans man Adam Kashmiry (he also stars) and the obstacles – cultural and geographic – he faced on the journey to becoming himself.

National Theatre of Scotland’s Adam.
National Theatre of Scotland’s Adam. Photograph: National Theatre of Scotland

Also available is Lady Blackshirt, a film from the Bristol-based dance theatre company Impermanence exploring the lives of the early feminist Mary Richardson; and Fevered Sleep’s 8 Tender Solitudes, a film created during Britain’s third wave lockdown featuring seven extraordinary dancers working solo to explore loss, loneliness and sensuality in extraordinary times.

More titles will be dropping throughout January, including choreographer Corey Baker’s pandemic take on Swan Lake. The Opera House is also offering – to rent – a digital stream of Matthew Bourne’s 1997 production Cinderella.

Cinderella by Prokofiev, directed by Mathew Bourne and performed at Sadler’s Wells.
Cinderella by Prokofiev, directed by Mathew Bourne and performed at Sadler’s Wells. Photograph: Johan Persson

Head to Sydney Opera House’s streaming platform here.

The Australian Ballet’s Merry Widow

Featuring Lisa Pavane, Steven Heathcote, David McAllister and Colin Peasley, this ABC recording – captured in 1993 in Melbourne, and available on the Australian Ballet’s digital platform – is a comfort viewing time capsule. If you are looking for something more representative of the way things are now under artistic director David Hallberg, check out the Australian Ballet’s free-to-view Bodytorque channel.

Watch The Merry Widow for free here, or below:

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Over the past couple of years of pandemic interruption, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has become one of Australia’s leaders in live and on-demand digital programming. Its archive of concerts, captured in high definition video and audio in Melbourne’s Hamer Hall, is as extensive as it is impressive.

Among the shiniest baubles on offer are Rachmaninov’s Symphony No 2, under the baton of Lawrence Renes; a great series of Jams for Juniors; and conductor Nicholas Carter’s partnering of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony with Franz Schreker’s Kammersymphonie.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
One of the first major organisations to begin streaming, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra continues to bring us comfort in the pandemic. Photograph: Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Head to here for their full suite of offerings.

Opera Australia TV

The OA’s on-demand channel has the Opera on the Harbour extravaganzas free-to-view. You miss the sensations of a summer night breeze in your hair but the audio and video quality is excellent and there are fireworks with every show.

Opera Australia’s production of Aida performed on Sydney Harbour in 2015.
Opera Australia’s production of Aida performed on Sydney Harbour in 2015. Photograph: Don Arnold/WireImage

Our pick? The bold and brilliant 2014 Madama Butterfly starring Hiromi Omura.

Watch Opera Australia’s Opera on the Harbour here.


Elissa Blake

The GuardianTramp

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