Where To Watch Orchestra, Opera & Ballet Online

This is a more robust version of the sidebar text in The Star. An even more fleshed out essay is in the works including interviews with the respective persons in charge. It’s a fascinating new market and it would be great to hear your thoughts on these sites if you’ve tried them out.

User comments from those in the know [that means you] will give the piece an interesting angle and a good balance. Miss Mussel is particularly interested in the differences between internet and DVD watching; whether you prefer live or video on demand concerts [both online] and your thoughts on the pricing models and programming.

Basically, it’s all relevant. Without further adieu, here’s a summary of the four main players in the online concert market.

Berliner Philharmoniker
Live Concerts/year: 30
Archive: 20 & all from the 2008/09 season
Pricing: 9.90€/concert or 89€ for season subscription
Focus: All Berliner, all the time.
Tip: A subscription for the new season starting in August 2009 will cost 149€. Existing subscribers will not be cut off completely when the new season starts but The Berliner is not yet sure how they will handle archive access.
The Lowdown: Launched in January 2009, the Digital Concert Hall is the first initiative of its by a single ensemble. All the cameras are controlled remotely and work with available light in the hall, so the user experience mimics the live one very closely.

Live Concerts/year: 12
Archive: 140
Pricing: Live concerts 6.99€ Archive is 2.99€ to 5.99€ depending on video length or 9.99€ for a All Access Monthly Pass .
Focus: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, piano recitals, opera from around Europe
Tip: The Concertgebouw Christmas Concert is available for free.
The Lowdown: Monteverdi.tv aims to be comprehensive. In addition to concerts, the site features a host of resources about music history, genres and instruments.

Live Concerts/year: 50
Archive: 200+
Pricing: Live concerts are free.. Subscriptions for the archive are 24H & 5€, 1 month & 25€, 6 months 50€.
Focus: Verbier Festival, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Aspen Festival,
Tip: Starting in April, the monthly subscription price will be reduced to 7.99€
The Lowdown: Based in France, Medici.tv offers live concerts and an archive that includes contemporary and historical performances as well as documentaries. It is the only site to cover chamber music.

Live Concerts/year: 30+
Archive: 100+ on launch day going to 1100
Pricing: $9.99US for live events. Archive is free.
Focus: The Big Guns — The Paris Opera, The Metropolitan Opera, The English National Opera, The Bolshoi Ballet, The Dutch National Ballet, The Royal Shakespeare Company
Tip: Try out the site for free with La Bohème from the English National Opera.
The Lowdown: Classical TV is based in the UK and launches officially on 2nd March. The site aims to be the biggest and the best, concentrating its offerings on opera, ballet and theatre where the visual component is integral.

Tech: Watching concerts on your computer is good. Watching them on your television with stereo sound is even better. A DVI to S-video cable and a line in to your stereo receiver is all most people need to achieve audiovisual nirvana. If you’re not most people, a quick Google will sort you out.


  1. philip

    All this ought to be nifty, but I am not yet sure. The designers of the Medici site have most surely never heard of the KISS rule — drives me nuts. But rather more of a problem there is that you won’t get far in sampling the archive before the time runs out re linking to excerpts. I got halfway through the catalogue and listened to two before the excerpt link closed down. That is silly, because a lot of it is available on DVD, and in general I’m going to want to know what I might rather buy, the quality of remainder, etc. Monteverdi I cannot know — I registered, but then found that to log in you need a user name — not part of the registration procedure and I couldn’t find anywhere on the site to create one. The ITV one would be considerably more interesting to me if it had orchestral and instrumental. Anyway, undoubtedly some good stuff to be found, but user-friendly they are not.

  2. Miss Mussel

    Yes, the Monteverdi site is a bit unwieldly at times although once you decide on something to watch it works ok. As near as I can make out, http://www.medici.tv/#/login is where you create an account. Since the archives are paid, you’ll need to buy a subscription to continue watching.

    The Berliner site is very easy to use and the concerts are well worth the price of admission.

    If you’re after free viewing, it seems that ClassicalTV.com is the best of the lot. All of their archive is mean to be free of charge and you don’t even have to register to access it.

    • Miss Mussel

      Hello Chuck, thanks for your comment. I have become aware of the Met Opera Player recently but I’m glad you mentioned it here. I’ve not had a chance to try it out yet but I’m sure I will in future.

  3. http://balletoman.com/
    Ballet Video, Music, Free Download Watch Online – Giorgi Mshvenieradze, балет видео, музыка скачать бесплано и смотреть онлайн Balletoman.com ბალეტის ვიდეო, მუსიკა-ფონოგრამა უფასოდ გადმოწერა და უყურე ონლაინში გიორგი მშვენიერაძე

  4. BBC – Radio 3 – Home

    BBC Radio 3 Homepage – Radio 3 broadcasts classical music, jazz, world music, new music, arts programmes and drama. BBC Radio 3 is the home of the Proms and supports composers …

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