I like my students to watch and listen to as many musicals and operas as they can. While live performances are usually best, that’s not always practical, so I’ve been happy to find that there are quite a few that you can stream on hoopla.
If you don’t know what hoopla is, it’s a digital lending library. A lot of our local library districts provide access with your library card. So, go sign up for a card and start streaming! You can even download to mobile devices to watch while you’re off network. The odd thing I’ve found though, is that things are categorized weirdly. A lot of the musicals are categorized as simply comedies or dramas. So, you can’t just search “musicals” or click on the “musicals” tag and find all of their musicals. In fact, if you do just look at the movies that are categorized as “musicals” you’ll get recommendations such as Madeline’s Sing-A-Long Around the World, and Brainy Baby’s Musica. Not helpful. Which is why I decided to compile this list. Hopefully it will help my students and others to find some of the real musicals they have available.
Now, most of these are not my favorite versions. In general, I prefer recordings of stage performances with professional stage actors. When evaluating the quality of a production, there are a few things to know. Usually movie versions with famous actresses and actors are not going to be top-notch, at least as far as singing is concerned. The recent-ish movie versions of Les Misérables, Into the Woods and Beauty and the Beast are full of bad singing. Sometimes you’ll come across recordings where the cast includes some pop culture icon that are just bad (hello David Hasselhoff in Jekyll & Hyde). But that’s not always the case. Hugh Jackman in Oklahoma! was great. But then, Hugh Jackman’s singing in Les Misérables was problematic (Hugh Jackman is not a tenor and really shouldn’t have been singing that role). I find that there’s always something to learn, though. The acting and singing can be evaluated separately, and you can ask yourself what about each made it good or bad. It can also be interesting just to see what singing styles were popular during which time periods.
And without farther ado, my list of 30+ musicals, operas and concerts worth watching on hoopla.
Annie (The 1999 movie version)
Babes in Toyland (The 1961 Disney movie is an adaptation of the original operetta)
Bride and Prejudice (An interesting introduction to Bollywood and Indian music)
Camelot (The 1982 Broadway stage revival)
Chicago (The 2003 movie version)
Cinderella (The 1965 recording of the Roger’s and Hammerstein musical)
The Fantasticks (The 1995 movie version)
Fiddler on The Roof (The classic 1971 movie version)
Guys and Dolls (The 1955 movie with Frank Sinatra)
Gypsy (The 1993 made for TV version with Bette Midler)
Gypsy (The 2015 Live from the Savoy Theater version)
Hair (The 1979 film based on the 1968 Broadway musical Hair: An American Tribal Love-Rock Musical)
Into the Woods (The original Broadway production with Bernadette Peters)
Jeff Wayne's Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds (2012)
Jesus Christ Superstar (1973 with Ted Neely)
Jesus Christ Superstar (2000 with Glenn Carter)
Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (2000 version with Donny Osmond)
Love Never Dies (2012, Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel to the Phantom of the Opera)
Man Of La Mancha (The 1972 film adaptation of the Broadway musical)
The Music Man (The 2003 made for television version with Kristin Chenowith)
Once Upon A Mattress (The 2005 movie with Carol Burnett)
Phantom Of The Opera (2011 recording at The Royal Albert Hall)
Rent (2005 movie version with Idina Menzel)
“Shirley Temple’s Storybook” presents “Babes in Toyland” (1960)
The Sound Of Music Live (2015)
OPERAS (including documentaries):
Becoming Traviata (2013 documentary featuring Natalie Dessay)
The Paris Opera (2017 documentary featuring, Benjamin Millepied, Bryn Terfel, and Philippe Jordan)
Tosca’s Kiss (1984 documentary, memoirs of the Italian opera by the singers and musicians of the Casa Verdi, Milan)
La Traviata (1983 production with Placido Domingo
Rigoletto (1946 film starring Tito Gobbi)
Les Miserables (2010, The 25th Anniversary concert version)
A Celebration Of Peace Through Music (2015)
Rocktopia: A Classical Revolution - Live From Budapest (2016)
Singer, writer, mother, yogi, wife and chocolate enthusiast.