Browsing: This Week in Toronto

Given that this week is March Break, there are fewer musical happenings than usual. Typically the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is dark, perhaps to give the musicians some family time? The Canadian Opera Company is in rehearsals for its upcoming production of Carmen. That said, there are still a number of concerts well worth attending. High on my list is a recital by the British pianist Paul Lewis.  Currently on a North American tour, Lewis is playing in Atlanta and Philadelphia before coming to Koerner Hall in Toronto on Sunday March 20th 3 p.m. On the program are works by Brahms, Schubert, and Liszt. Lewis…

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The Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s New Creations Festival continues this week with two performances. On Wednesday March 9th 8 p.m. is the North American premiere of Two Memorials: Anton Webern and John Lennon, in which Australian composer James Ledger pays tribute to the two musical greats. Also on the program is Brett Dean’s trumpet concerto Dramatis personae, with soloist Hakan Hardenberger, for whom Dean composed this work. There’s also the world premiere of From the Vortex Perspective, a TSO commission from composer Paul Frehner. Both Ledger and Frehner will be interviewed by Gary Kulesha at intermission. Peter Oundjian conducts. https://www.tso.ca/ On Saturday March…

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The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting its annual New Creations Festival.  It’s a cluster of concerts dedicated to new music, featuring both Canadian and international composers and performing artists.  As a classical music lover who has been attending live performances for over fifty years, I admit that I love my warhorses. But I totally recognize that for classical music to survive and thrive into the future, we need new works that reflect 21st century aesthetics and audience sensibilities. Just last season, I heard a striking work presented by the TSO New Creations Festival, the concert performance of  British composer George…

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The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting a real “heart of the repertoire” program this week, opening with Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 2, followed by  Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Canadian pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin. The centerpiece is the Schumann Symphony No. 4, with French conductor Louis Langree at the helm. Performances on Thursday Feb. 25 and Saturday Feb. 27 8 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall. https://www.tso.ca/concert/schumann-symphony-4 This is the final week of the Canadian Opera Company’s winter season.  Siegfried has already been consigned to history, and only four performances of The Marriage of Figaro remaining. On Feb. 22 is the special…

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The big news for voice fans this week is the return of the great Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky to Toronto in recital on Sunday, Feb. 21st 7 p.m. at Koerner Hall.  His public was stunned when it was announced last spring that Hvorostovsky was suffering from a brain tumour. The treatment turned out to be successful and he returned to performing in the fall.  He was in fine voice as Count di Luna at the Met in HD Il trovatore, although he did not sing the full slate of engagements originally contracted.  Hvorostovsky has had a long history of performing…

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This is a particularly rich week for opera/voice lovers. The two productions of Canadian Opera Company’s winter season continue at the Four Seasons Centre.  You have two more chances to catch Siegfried, the hit of the season,on Feb. 11 and 14.  Great singing, memorable production, and magnificent orchestra – what more can one possibly want? I have a friend who is going to all seven of the performances – that’s a bit too compulsive for me, but if I had the energy, I would go to at least one more!  Stefan Vinke and Christine Goerke are just simply amazing. We…

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The big news for Toronto opera fans this week is the opening of the second production of the Canadian Opera Company’s winter season, Marriage of Figaro.  We are getting the 2006 Salzburg production staged at the time to celebrate Mozart’s 250th anniversary. Directed by Claus Guth, this intriguing re-imagining of the Mozart opera downplays the comedic elements. Instead, the austere set and Guth’s dark vision give this piece an Ingmar Bergman feel. I’ve only seen part of a working rehearsal, and the final dress is happening Monday evening. There is however a 2006 commercial DVD starring a luminous Anna Netrebko…

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Stefan Vinke (Siegfried) and Christine Goerke (Brunnhilde) Photo: Michael Cooper Canadian Opera Company’s winter season opened with Siegfried  last evening. This is the same production from the Ring Cycle that opened the opera house nearly ten years ago. What a joy to re-acquaint myself with this masterpiece, directed by Francois Girard.  Siegfried for years has been my least favourite of the Ring operas, but last evening’s show was so stunning that I just might change my mind!  First of all, it was a great night of singing, from Stefan Vinke (Siegfried) down to the smallest roles. He was matched by the…

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German tenor Stefan Vinke As an admittedly opera-centric music lover, top on my list this week is the opening of Canadian Opera Company’s winter season production of Siegfried. It marks the return of American dramatic soprano Christine Goerke in her first-ever Siegfried Brunnhilde. If her Walkure Brunnhilde from last season was any indication, we are in for a treat! Toronto opera fans are lucky to have her singing her three Brunnhildes here before anywhere else. Partnering her is the COC debut of Stefan Vinke in the title role. The lion’s share of the singing in this five-hour marathon falls to the…

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Mozart@260 celebrations in January is now an annual event at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Kicking off this year’s offering is Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 K. 551, the “Jupiter.”  The return of Quebec conductor Bernard Labadie after his long battle with T-cell lymphoma is a cause for celebration in itself.  His life-threatening illness was reported in Norman Lebrecht’s Slipped Disc (blog) http://slippedisc.com/2015/11/happy-news-maestro-returns-from-year-long-bout-with-cancer/ The program opens with the Overture to Don Giovanni, K. 527. Pianist Alexandre Tharaud is the soloist in Piano Concerto No. 9 K. 271. Conductor Bernard Labadie Two marvelous Canadian singers, tenor Frederic Antoun and bass-baritone Philippe Sly are singing one Mozart aria each…

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