Like nearly all purveyors of arts and culture, the Princeton Festival has been forced to consider an existential question: How does one put on a series of live performances if venues must be empty?

Rachel Cheung Rachel Cheung will conduct a piano recital Friday, June 19 at 8 p.m., which will be broadcast live on WWFM. (Photo by Ralph Lauer.)

The Princeton Festival’s answer is a new digital performance series called “Virtually Yours,” which starts Monday, June 1 and will run throughout the month of June.

Virtually Yours will feature a variety of musical and educational content, including full-length streaming of past opera productions, a live musical theater revue, artist videos, recordings, online workshops, lectures, and a promise from organizers for a “generous helping of online bonhomie.”

All content will be available free of charge on the Princeton Festival website and Facebook page, with content published every day.

The series runs in place of the festival’s annual June season. Princeton Festival announced April 7 that it had cancelled all 22 performances in its June 2020 season, along with all lectures, workshops, and special events scheduled for April through June, due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Events canceled include the opera La Traviata, the musical Into the Woods, the Latin jazz dance band Fleur Seule, a multimedia presentation, chamber music, and Baroque orchestral and choral programs. Ticketholders were offered options for redeeming, transferring, or donating the value of their purchases.

Festival officials said in April that they were looking at the possibility of presenting a few performance events in the fall, assuming restrictions related to COVID-19 had passed. The popular fundraising Gala, originally scheduled for April, had already been moved to October.

“We appreciate the tremendous support from our patrons and donors who make it possible for the Festival to continue its mission to excite and inspire our community,” executive and artistic director Richard Tang Yuk said in April. “We’re planning for a brilliant lineup of events next June, and a fall mini-season would help everyone transition from disappointment to renewal.”

Turns out supporters of the Princeton Festival won’t have to wait until fall. Festival representatives spent the spring brainstorming ways to bring the spirit of their event into people’s homes. They reached out to artists around the globe, culled archival videos and even scheduled a few live events.

The live events schedule is as follows:

Friday, June 5 at 8 p.m.: WWFM (89.1FM) Broadcast–Concordia Chamber Players

Sunday, June 7 at 1 p.m.: Opera Stream–Puccini’s Madama Butterfly

Friday, June 12 at 8 p.m.: WWFM Broadcast–The Princeton Festival Baroque Orchestra

Sunday, June 14 at 1 p.m.: Opera Stream–Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro

Tuesday, June 16 at 1 p.m.: Live Panel Discussion with Princeton Music Organizations

Friday, June 19 at 8 p.m.: WWFM Broadcast–Rachel Cheung Piano Recital

Saturday, June 20 at 8 p.m.: Live Musical Theater Revue

Sunday, June 21 at 1 p.m.: Opera Stream–John Adams’ Nixon in China

Friday, June 26 at 8 p.m.: WWFM Broadcast–The Princeton Festival Baroque Orchestra & Chorus

Sunday, June 28 at 1 p.m.: Opera Stream–Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman.

Check out the festival’s website for more information, including the full schedule of events.

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Rob Anthes
Rob Anthes is managing editor at Community News Service, and also serves as the editor of the Hamilton Post and the Lawrence Gazette. Rob's writing has been honored by the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists, the Keystone Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Association of Free Community Papers, most recently in 2020. He was a 2019 fellow at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting, based at the University of Rhode Island. A Hamilton native, Rob is a graduate of Steinert High School and Syracuse University.