The BBC has extended its Culture in Quarantine programme, with streamed performances of opera that has been cancelled during the pandemic.
The initiative was launched in March as a "virtual festival of the arts" and has broadcast recordings of productions as well as new work such as Headlong’s Unprecedented series for BBC4 and the forthcoming Lockdown Theatre Festival on Radio 3 and Radio 4.
It will now extend into the autumn, with a new phase focusing on “increasingly ambitious music programming”, including the first live performances from the Royal Opera House since lockdown began.
In addition to the live three concerts from Covent Garden, which will be broadcast live on Radio 3 with a highlights show on television, Royal Opera music director Antonio Pappano’s Opera Italia series will be rebroadcast.
There will also be a wider focus on opera, with streamed versions of performances that have been cancelled during the Covid-19 pandemic, from Glyndebourne, Garsington and Opera North.
Bryony Kimmings will explore opera in a new documentary, while playwright Timothy X Atack’s audio drama about Beethoven, starring Peter Capaldi, will be broadcast on Radio 3.
Outgoing director general Tony Hall said the extended programme demonstrated the BBC’s commitment to the arts. He said: “The pandemic has had a severe impact on the UK’s creative industries, which prior to lockdown were worth £100 billion per year. The BBC wants to do all it can to bring British creativity to the widest possible audience. That’s why we are working with cultural organisations and artists to make that happen.”
Elsewhere, the Culture in Quarantine programme will include live classical music during the autumn, from venues such as London’s Wigmore Hall, while BBC Bitesize will give over a fortnight to learning about Shakespeare, in collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Hall added: “Upcoming programming will see a deeper evolution of previous Culture in Quarantine collaborations and partnerships, including utterly unique projects focused on museums and galleries, a specially curated release of classical music archive from the BBC orchestras and choirs, the performing arts, and the world of books and poetry as well as more specially staged classical concerts working with venues across the UK.”