With live performances more or less on hold for the time being, beloved Boston stage shows like Christmas Revels and Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker are on hiatus this holiday season, at least for in-person audiences. Do not despair, though—many Boston-related Yuletide extravaganzas can still be enjoyed virtually, so no matter where you find yourself at the end of 2020, you can stream both classic and new stories designed to give you a jolt of holiday cheer. Trust us, it’ll be better than sampling your Uncle Jim’s egg nog.
One of the most venerable holiday traditions that endures is the Handel and Haydn Society’s annual performances of Handel’s Messiah, which the orchestra has been bringing to Hub audiences for 167 years. The December 20 broadcast on GBH 2, which is also available on several streaming platforms including YouTube and Facebook, is being repeated on channels 2 and 44 throughout the remainder of the holiday season. For those who can’t get enough of Messiah, Boston Baroque presents past Messiah concerts for free on the online Boston Baroque Live platform. In addition, Boston Baroque toasts the new year on December 31 and January 1 with its New Year’s Celebration.
Dance gets some play as well, with Boston Ballet debuting The Gift (pictured) on its streaming platform through December 27. Inspired by Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite and also featuring a scene from artistic director Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker, the program highlights works crafted by the company’s own dancers. For those that miss the longer version of The Nutcracker, there’s an airing of the Tchaikovsky blockbuster on several local stations throughout December, and this one-hour ballet can be streamed for free anytime on the Boston Ballet website as well.
It wouldn’t be the holidays without at least one visit with everyone’s favorite miser, Ebenezer Scrooge. The Huntington Theatre Company—in partnership with several theaters across the country, including Boston's own Boch Center—is bringing Broadway star Jefferson Mays to your living room as he inhabits 50 roles in the quintessential redemption story, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which can be enjoyed as a stream through January 3.
Speaking of the aforementioned Boch Center, the Theatre District mainstay offers streams of several heartwarming seasonal treats streaming from both near and far on its site. Choose from such sparkling gems as the Hub-based Urban Nutcracker (through December 24), the musical Eleanor's Very Merry Christmas Wish (through December 27) and The Hip Hop Nutcracker (December 22 at 7 p.m.).
Cambridge’s adored Christmas Revels soldiers on, with a video-on-demand version headlined by renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma entitled A 50th Anniversary Virtual Celebration that is available December 18–31. The show includes clips from the voluminous Revels archive as well as new material.
The beloved Boston Pops is streaming a pre-recorded version of its annual Holiday Pops performances, which include all of its usual hallmarks—from familiar holiday favorites to a visit from St. Nick—through January 9.
The Boston Lyric Opera gets in on the seasonal vibe as well with its A Winter’s Evening, which debuts on operabox.tv on December 21. Enjoy holiday cheer opera-style with soprano Gabriella Reyes belting out favorite Yuletide tunes and more in a recording of a live show that was hosted at Ipswich’s majestic Crane Estate.