Watching Opera on Internet

Today many opera lovers around the world watch operas on Internet. They can now experience opera performances from opera houses around the globe which they otherwise would not have the opportunity to visit. Thus today opera is watched by more people than ever in history. You can watch opera on your computer, television, game console or even on the mobile phone.

How did that come about and what sources are available on Internet today?

Everything began around 2006.
In 2005 YouTube was started as a video platform. Very quickly it was used to upload and publish classical music including opera. It became the source for a vast number of opera videos and clips. Opera houses and DVD publishers use it to advertise. You can find almost anything there – but it has also disadvantages. YouTube videos are of very varying quality and poorly labeled and documented. Keywords are not consistent. There are many videos there which actually are no videos at all but only audio tracks. This makes it often very difficult to find the opera video you are looking for and you can even get wrong Infos. Nevertheless YouTube is for sure the biggest resource for opera clips in Internet.
There came other video platforms in the wake of YouTube. Vimeo being the most well known. Vimeo has opera clips but nowhere near the numbers YouTube has. But you can find some videos there which are not on YouTube.

In 2006 Metropolitan Opera started Met Live in HD. It streams live performances from the Met to cinemas around the world. This service became a huge success. Nowadays Met Live in HD shows about 10 performances each season. These performances are later often published on Met Opera on Demand where you can purchase viewing per performance or with a subscription.

The success of the Metropolitan triggered opera houses around the world to offer opera streaming services:

Wiener Staatsoper Live Streaming started 2013 and is available to subscribers only. Performances are streamed live with a delayed streaming for other time zones. Thereafter these performances are not available any more for viewing. Today the service streams more than 50 performances per season.

Royal Opera House London offers ROH Live Cinema similar to the Met. It shows up to 10 opera and ballet performances per season in cinemas. Thereafter these are not available any more unless published on DVD/BD.

Staatsoper München offers up to five performances per season with the Staatsoper TV service. These are streamed live only without replay and are not available thereafter.
Teatro Carlo Felice Genoa offers the TCF WEB TV streaming service.
Teatro Massimo Palermo occasionally streams performances via its YouTube Channel
Mariinsky TV streams concerts and sometimes opera

Other opera houses such as La Scala, La Fenice, La Monnaie, Opera de Paris and others offer their performances via some of the streaming services by TV channels and similar.

TV channels have their own streaming or replay services and publish operas there:
Be aware that these performance may be available only a limited time (weeks, months up to a year) and can be restricted to certain countries due to rights issues.

ARTE Concert has an opera channel where it streams previously broadcast operas and sometimes even others.
culturebox is the streaming service of French Television. There are predominately French performances but also some others.
RAI Play is the streaming/replay service of the Radiotelevisione Italiana. You have to register in order to view. But it is free.
PBS Great Performances offers sometimes an opera (restricted to USA)

Replay streaming is available for many TV Stations such as Austrian ORF (ORF III has often operas) and ARD, ZDF, 3Sat in Germany. 3Sat has many operas during the summer festival season.

There are some independent streaming services for opera:

OperaVision offers performances from various opera houses in Europe free of charge for a limited time (months). They use their YouTube channel for that. is a commercial subscription service with some free videos too.

Fidelio is a commercial subscription service with many operas from the Unitel catalogue.

Streamopera is a commercial service which has mainly performances from Genoa

Some orchestras offer streaming of their concerts which occasionally include opera concert performances:

Berlin Philharmonic offers Digital Concert Hall: a subscription service for the BPO concerts. There are usually about three opera concert performances per year.
BBC Proms broadcast many concerts each season with the occasional opera included. Replay is available via BBC iPlayer (severely restricted to UK).
Tchaikovsky Concert Hall Moscow offers some opera concerts
Others are Bergen Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Philharmonie de Paris

Social Networks often provide links to opera clips for example on YouTube. Some such as Facebook also host videos. You can find those by searching Facebook and selecting Videos.  There are many opera video clips on Facebook but almost no full length operas. But the same disadvantages as for YouTube apply also here. It is difficult to find what you are looking for. A better way is to be a member of an opera related Group. You will then receive news about posts/videos.

This overview is not 100% complete but it will give you a comprehensive summary of all important opera video sources in the Internet. For obvious reasons I do not include illegal sources, torrents and similar.

And last but not least there is  OPERA ON VIDEO.COM the place for you to find any opera video easily and well documented regardless of the original source. And it will point you to a source (if available).
So you do not have to shop around or monitor all the different sources – that is what we do for you continuously.

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