Browsing: Classical Music

By L.H. Tiffany HsiehAs most fairy tales, the Canadian Opera Company’s newest production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute starts well and ends well. It’s one of the prettiest productions I’ve seen on stage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Alas, it’s too bad the performance on Feb. 3 felt a little short on magic in general.Directed by Diane Paulus of the Tony-winning revival of Hair and with Myung Hee Cho’s set and costume designs, this Flute production will make an excellent first impression on just about anybody, especially children. It is predominantly held together by a lush…

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Last Sunday marked the the birthday of the great American soprano Eileen Farrell. (Feb. 13 1920 – Mar. 23 2002) Few classical singers in history moved with as much ease between classics and pop/jazz. She began in radio in 1942 and made her recital debut in 1950. In 1952, she was chosen by Toscanini as soprano soloist for his Beethoven 9th recording. She made her stage debut as Santuzza in 1956 in Florida, followed by debuts in Chicago, San Francisco, and then the Met. Her roles included Alceste, Maddalena, Gioconda, Leonora in Forza and others. But her true metier was…

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Soprano Simone Osborne (photo: Connor Beaton)It has just been announced that Vancouver soprano Simon Osborne will be making her Vancouver Opera debut as Juliette in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette next season. Below is the Press Release from Vancouver Opera. Osborne burst onto the scene after winning the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2008, and has since taken on major assignments. Currently she is Pamina in the COC production of The Magic Flute. Upcoming engagements include an Atlantic Canada recital tour, Gilda in Rigoletto for the COC next season, and Mozart Requiem for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in January 2012.*******************Vancouver…

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Just received the following press release from the Met – Newfoundland baritone Peter Barrett is making his Met debut this evening as Dr. Malatesta opposite a stellar cast of Anna Netrebko Norina and Matthew Polenzani as Ernesto. This is great news for Peter and for Canadian opera. He was a member of the COC Ensemble, and even at that early stage of his career, he had all the ingredients of a major singer – gorgeous voice, solid training, stage presence, musicality, and the drive and ability to excel. We say Bravo to Peter, and “Toi toi toi” for this evening!…

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Soprano Simone Osborne (photo: Connor Beaton)An opera singer who has attracted a lot of attention lately is soprano Simone Osborne. A native of BC, Osborne scored a major triumph as one of the winners of the 2008 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. If memory serves, she was all of 22 at the time, one of the youngest to have won in the history of the Met Auditions. At the time, I interviewed her for an article in The Music Scene, and she came across as smart, articulate, and thorough delightful, oozing ‘star quality’ as they say. She has since joined…

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By L.H. Tiffany HsiehIt’s hard not to get a standing ovation when you play a piece like Beethoven’s Emperor piano concerto — one of the most well-known and best-loved works in the piano literature. The music itself is astounding whether or not a listener hears it for the first time or the 100th time.So not surprisingly, an enthusiastic crowd jumped to its feet at Roy Thomson Hall Feb. 5, following a heroic but mediocre performance of the Emperor by pianist Jonathan Biss and the National Arts Centre Orchestra led by Pinchas Zukerman.The problem with the Biss-Zukerman performance began with what can only be described as…

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by Paul E. RobinsonI doubt that Gioachino Rossini had airplanes and hot-air balloons in mind when he wrote his comic opera L’Italiana in Algeri in 1813 – but why not? There is so much craziness in the opera as written, that a little more just adds to the fun. And there was plenty of fun in the Austin Lyric Opera (ALO) production that took to the stage at the Long Center last week.The Austin Lyric Opera is a regional company with a modest budget, struggling every month to keep its head above water; yet it consistently manages to mount one…

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Pinchas Zukerman (photo: Paul Labelle)Violinist-conductor Pinchas Zukerman and the National Arts Centre Orchestra will be at Roy Thomson Hall this coming Saturday Feb. 5 to present Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 and the Piano Concert No. 5 Op. 73, “Emperor” featuring pianist Jonathan Biss. There will also be a piece, In Memoriam Karol Szymanowski by Paul Koprowski. Concert is at 7:30 p.m., with a pre-show chat with Rick Philips in the lobby at 6:45 p.m. This is a Casual Concert, so there will be a party in the lobby afterwards with live music by Paisley Jura. Earlier in the day at…

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Photo: Margaret PriceWelsh soprano Margaret Price passed away unexpectedly from heart failure in Moylegrove, Wales on Friday. A singer known for her opulent voice well suited to the music of Mozart and Strauss, she had a major international career that spanned three decades, from the early 60’s to the 1990’s. In addition to Mozart and Strauss, she also sang operas of Verdi (Desdemona, Aida, Elisabetta, even Nanetta in her earliest days) and Cilea (Adriana Lecouvreur), although she was best remembered as a Mozart singer. She made her operatic debut in Wales as Cherubino in her mezzo days. Later, her Fiordiligi,…

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by Paul E. RobinsonCraig Hella Johnson never ceases to amaze us. Just when you think his exceptional musical imagination has surely outdone itself, he comes up with something even more remarkable. His latest achievement was a festival given at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in Austin and called Renaissance & Response: Polyphony Then and Now. Sound like an article in an academic journal? Perhaps, but that didn’t stop his many followers from selling out four concerts in one weekend and to judge by the concert I attended, enjoying every moment of it.The basic concept of the festival was to combine music…

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