NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect accurate location of DSO’s chamber concerts.
With no clear path to safely put butts into seats, two of Delaware’s biggest arts organizations are going virtual.
The Delaware Symphony Orchestra is offering a fully digital season, recording performances and releasing them to subscribers.
Delaware Shakespeare’s annual fundraiser goes online with “Play On!,” a theatrical game show featuring Del-ebrities playing some of the Bard’s characters and being coached by actors.
DSO’s season will feature three chamber music programs and six performances in its Classic Series. While the chamber programs, which features up to 5 musicians, will have already sold-out audiences in the DuPont Country Club’s Crystal Ballroom, the Classic performances will be done without an audience. They’ll be filmed by a camera crew on a Friday, edited and mastered and then released to subscribers on a Tuesday.
“Though the method of delivery will be completely new for us, the music will be the same—from classics, to lesser-known gems, the season will have the appeal of an in-person one without any of the risks,” said Symphony Music Director David Amado in a press release.
Digital season subscriptions and single tickets are available for purchase on the Symphony’s website.
“As early as last March, we understood that the 2020-2021 season would not look anything like normal,” said Executive Director J.C. Barker. “Our first step was to move the bulk of our season past the beginning of January 2021. We have since watched closely and listened to the science as the virus has progressed.”
Ticket holders and their household will receive a unique link to view the concert as soon as it premieres. They will also be able to view the performance multiple times for 30 days after it goes live.
The chamber performances will be available for viewing on Oct. 27, Nov. 24 and Dec. 15. The classical performances will be available Jan. 26, Feb. 16, March 30, April 13, May 11 and June 8.
Programs will include symphonies by Haydn, Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Schubert, as well as Aaron Copland’s suite from the ballet “Appalachian Spring,” Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings,” and Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella.” They also will feature shorter works by American composers such as Ruth Crawford Seeger, George Walker and Alfred I. du Pont winner Claude Baker.
The classical performances will feature fewer musicians than DSO patrons are accustomed to. A maximum of 44 will play, Barker said.
“Crafting the season while slaloming through the limits and vagaries created by the pandemic has been a puzzle,” said Amado. “But I am thrilled at the results. The season is wide-ranging and appealing – old works and new, with music written for the concert hall, the ballet stage and even the silver screen.”
The musicians will be socially distanced while practicing and performing. String and percussion musicians will wear masks. Others will use plastic screens to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Throughout months of planning, the multiple conversations among musicians, board and staff established a set of guidelines that the DSO believes will keep everyone safe during the season.
“We are so excited to get back to performing for our wonderful DSO audience,” said James Finegan, DSO Players’ Committee chair. “This has been a difficult time for many musicians, and we absolutely miss the energy and satisfaction that come from performing for an audience. For most of us, this has been the longest break from performing that we’ve ever experienced. While this season will look a little different, it will give us a chance to perform some new and exciting repertoire.”
With the help of money from the National Endowment of the Arts’ share of the CARES Act funding, Delaware Shakespeare has embraced a variety of programming including Soliloquy Strolls through Rockwood Park and an online evening of Shakespeare and cooking.
Now “Play On!” will take place Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $90 and ticket holders will be sent a link in order to access the event.
The competition, styled after “The Voice” in which professionals coach amateurs, will ask the Delaware celebrities to perform scenes from Shakespeare’s plays and try to raise the most donations for Delaware Shakespeare.
“Audiences will get a behind-the-scenes look at what happens when well-known Delawareans take their first crack at performing Shakespeare,” says David Stradley, producing artistic director of DelShakes.
“The smack talk from our coaches is already at fever pitch as their actors get ready to compete and raise funds supporting our efforts to bring theatre up and down the First State.”
Tina and Rick Betz will compete as Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, coached by Newton Buchanan, seen as Master Page in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in 2019.
Guillermina Gonzalez and Charles Sobrero will showcase their control of Spanish and English in a reading of Viola and Orsino from “Twelfth Night,” assisted by coach Liz Filios, who is writing Del Shakes’ bilingual musical adaptation of “Twelfth Night.”
Sarah McBride will take on Shakespeare heroine Rosalind from “As You Like It,” coached by Danielle Leneé, who played Rosalind in 2017.
Michelle Mitchell and Chuck Lewis, superstars from the hospitality industry, will brawl as the inhospitable lovers Kate and Petruchio from “The Taming of the Shrew.” J Hernandez, Benedick in “Much Ado About Nothing,” will coach them.