The Arts at Home: Recommendations amid the Coronavirus Lockdown

By Connor Reilly '20 | English and Classics Major, March 23, 2020 News & Announcements, Students

[About a 7 MIN read]

Due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the Center has made the decision to cancel all events through May 10, 2020, for the safety of our staff and community. However, just because we are closed doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the music, movies, and theater that you’ve come to love! Here is a list of free ways to enjoy the arts when you’re staying safe in your home over these next couple of months. There are, of course, several paid services for movies, concerts, operas, and more in addition to these, so there’s more to explore too!

We hope you enjoy this non-exhaustive starter pack of free content to help you through this time.

A Virtual Movie Theater

One of the best parts about the Browning Cinema is that you can watch a vast range of movies you can’t find in your usual Cinemark. Though we can’t promise your computer screen is quite as large, you can watch thousands of movies free online through Kanopy is a streaming service that is free with a university email or a library card that hosts acclaimed documentaries, foreign films, critically acclaimed movies, and more. Some movies you can find that we’ve screened in the Browning Cinema over the last few years include The Last Laugh, Faces Places, and the groundbreaking Passion of Joan of Arc. It’s a great service to anyone who wants some movies with an educational or thought-provoking punch!

Opera Online

The Met Opera has closed its doors for the next couple months, but they have opened their vaults. The Met will be streaming encore performances from their “Live in HD” series nightly at 7:30 p.m. EST, and the performance will remain available through 3:30 p.m. EST the next day. You can watch them on their website at or through their streaming app. View information on their streaming schedule here.  For some international flavor, the Vienna Opera will also be streaming performances for free.

All the Internet’s a Stage

For Notre Dame faculty, staff, and students, the Hesburgh Library provides access to databases to get your theater fix while stages around the world go dark. Digital Theatre + provides access to films of staged performances including Shakespeare plays from the Globe Theatre, musicals, and performances from around the world. Drama Online is a similar service, offering several performances including several National Theatre Live productions. You can re-experience the thrilling Benedict Cumberbatch/Johnny Lee Miller Frankenstein, or my personal favorite theatrical production of all time, the Nicholas Hytner-directed Julius Caesar.

You can access the databases if logged into the Hesburgh Library website by searching for them in the “Databases” section of the website. If experimental theater is more your speed, On the Boards is offering its collection for free through the end of April. And, if you’ll miss student productions, thousands of actors from canceled grade school and high school performances are sharing the songs they can’t put on stage on Twitter with the hashtag #SunshineSongs.

Digital Orchestrations

We are as sad as you are that we have had to cancel the Boston Pops on Tour performance! To fill the void of music, several internationally renowned orchestras are making performances available online! The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is making their collection of concerts free through March 30th on their website. The Vancouver Symphony has streamed the final performance from their Beethoven Fest on their website. The Budapest Festival Orchestra is releasing a series of “Quarantine Soirees” online as well.

A Concerted Effort

Hundreds of musicians of all genres, celebrity, and ages have been uploading everything from songs to full concerts for their fans as they hunker down at home. Bruce Springsteen and the Dropkick Murphys have released full-length concerts for free on YouTube. Artists ranging from Miley Cyrus to Ben Platt and Coldplay to Garth Brooks have live-streamed performances on Instagram (#TogetherAtHome) or other platforms, taking requests from fans and bringing a little music to everyone’s lives. Keep an eye on your favorite musician, they may do the same!

Zoom Back Camera

Join the Browning Cinema’s NEW ad hoc movie club that allows you to watch films on your own time and then join scheduled online discussions to learn more about them! Before screenings in the Browning Cinema, we have a tradition: We take 30 seconds to shake the hand of someone you don’t know, wave to someone new, and make a friend. The goal is to actively build the vibrant and ephemeral communities movies have formed for decades. Our shared experiences in cinemas are why so many of us fell in love with the movies — laughing and crying and screaming together is an amazing way to experience art.

While we and many other venues sensibly stepped away from public screenings, the need for those shared laughs and cries and screams comes into sharper relief. So, the Browning Cinema is mending and making do with an at-home film discussion series: Zoom Back Camera. 

These are difficult times, but there are little ways that everyone, from the biggest names in music and theater to each one of us, can be here for one another. Please stay safe, stay home, and stay positive. We hope that we can see all of you back at the Center soon.