This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



to my distant love

Who: On Site Opera
What: One-on-one telephone-based opera
Where: Your personal telephone
When: June 18 - July 6 (extended through August 23), $40
Why: New York City-based On Site Opera specializes in staging immersive opera productions at unique locations; in recent years it has brought Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw to Wave Hill in the Bronx, Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors to the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen on Ninth Ave., and the world premiere of Michi Wiancko and Deborah Brevoort’s Marasaki’s Moon to the Astor Chinese Garden Court at the Met. So what’s the company to do while the pandemic lockdown has closed indoor places and public gatherings are extremely limited? On Site has decided to take the opera right to the audience with To My Distant Love, a show tailor made for this time of longing and isolation, presenting Beethoven’s six-song cycle, An die ferne Geliebte (“To the Distant Beloved”), over the phone, every performance uniquely delivered to one person. At scheduled times between June 18 and July 6, a singer and pianist will call the ticket holder and perform the twenty-minute piece over the phone; the duo will be either soprano Jennifer Zetlan and pianist David Shimoni or baritone Mario Diaz-Moresco and pianist Spencer Myer. (Each pair already lives together, so social distancing is not an issue.)

The cycle features music by Beethoven and text by Austrian doctor, journalist, and writer Alois Isidor Jeitteles, who served in the fight against the cholera epidemic; the piece will be sung in German, with additional English dialogue by playwright Monet Hurst-Mendoza. (The English text will be emailed to you in advance, as if you and the singer are long-lost lovers looking to finally reconnect.) “During this unprecedented pause, almost every aspect of our lives — even the way we are consuming art — has been through our computer or tablet screens,” On Site Opera general and artistic director Eric Einhorn said in a statement. “This production will untether people from their computers and bring back the feeling of live theater, where anything can and will happen. We have brought audiences to more than twenty engaging sites across four states in these last seven seasons. We now invite our audiences to bring us to their favorite sites and be a part of revolutionizing the ways in which opera can be heard, experienced, and evolved.” Tickets for the one hundred performances are $40 and going fast if you want to experience what could end up being one of the most entertaining phone calls you’ll ever receive. [Ed. note: The run has been extended through August 23, so sign up now!]

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