This Week in Toronto (Feb. 9 – 15)


My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of February 9 to 15

– Joseph So

For Toronto area opera and voice fans, the cup truly runneth over this week, with many fabulous opportunities to hear great singing.  First of all, there’s Canadian Opera Company‘s Don Giovanni and Die Walkure continuing this week with performances on the Mozart on Feb. 12 and 14, and for Wagner on Feb. 10 and 13, all at the Four Seasons Centre. I caught another performance of Walkure last Saturday that marked the Canadian and role debut of American dramatic  tenor Issachah Savage. It was fantastic – here’s my review of that performance –  I am sure there will be plenty of opportunities to hear Mr. Savage – with a voice like that, he will go far.  In the meantime, I wish Mr. Clifton Forbis a speedy recovery.

COC Ensemble Studio 2014-15

There are several exciting events this week at the opera house. The Christina and Louis Quilico Awards is happening on Monday Feb. 9 5:30 pm at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. This is in the form of a competition for the current members of the COC Ensemble Studio. The late Louis Quilico of course was a great Canadian baritone, and this competition is dedicated to his memory. This is a free event!  But you must show up at least an hour early to line for the possibility of a seat (or at least standing room) for the event.  Be prepared for a two hour duration. Here’s the program details.  I can honestly say there are some great voices in the ensemble this year and this event is not to be missed!

Canadian soprano Jane Archibald is currently singing her first Donna Anna at the COC. Her sparkling coloratura is well known to Toronto audiences, having sung here many times, in Semele and Die Zauberfloete. Now we get to hear her dramatic side as Anna. I attended opening night, and her coloratura in Non mi dir was to die for. She is giving a recital, Songs of Love and Longing, on Feb. 10 noon hour at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. Liz Upchurch is at the piano. On the program is a Mozart concert aria and songs by Faure, Strauss, and Quilter.

Canadian soprano Jane Archibald

After hearing Jane Archibald, take a break and then go to hear her Don Giovanni, Canadian baritone Russell Braun, singing the great Hugo Wolf song cycle, Italienisches Liederbuch, with soprano Monica Whicher. This takes place at Walter Hall at the University of Toronto’s Edward Johnson Building at 7 pm.  Carolyn Maule and Steven Philcox are the collaborative pianists.

Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki

This is a very big week for piano fans. On Wednesday Feb. 11 8 pm, the TSO presents Carnival of Animals. Pianists Emanuel Ax and Jan Lisiecki, join forces for Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos. Also on the program are a new piece by composer in residence Kevin Lau, and the Saint Saens Carinval of Animals.  Peter Oundjian conducts.

Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear

Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear joins Emanuel Ax and the piano duo Anagnoson and Kinton on Thursday Feb. 12 8 pm for The Orchestral Piano, They are playing Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis after themes of Carl Maria von Weber; Brahm’s Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, and Ravel’s La valse.

Pianist Emauel Ax

As part of its outreach, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting a Community Piano Event, with none other than the great pianist Emanuel Ax as performer and mentor!  Pianists from the GTA including RCM and Regent Park School of Music students will get to play on the TSO’s new Steinway piano – I mean, how cool is that! It is also a free event.  Kudos to the TSO for doing something so wonderful. The event is on Valentine’s Day no less!  Saturday Feb. 14 at 10 am.

Tafelmusik has a very intriguing event this week, called House of Dreams, a program that combines music with fine arts, conceived by Alison Mackay with stage direction by Marshall Pynkoski of Opera Atelier fame. Works by Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Marais played against a backdrop of paintings by Vermeer, Canaletto and Watteau. Five performances Feb. 11 to 15 at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre.

Toronto City Opera (formerly Toronto Opera Repertoire) under the direction of mezzo Beatrice Carpino and pianist Adolfo de Santis is presenting Don Giovanni and Un ballo in maschera this week and next. All performances at the Bickford Centre featuring local singers with piano accompaniment. The Mozart is presented on Feb. 11, 14, 20 and 22, while the Verdi on Feb. 13 and 15.

Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore is presented by Opera By Request, appropriately on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14)!  Performance at College Street United Church at 7:30 pm. At the piano is William Shookhoff.



About Author

Joseph K. So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, but his first love is music, which he studied as an undergraduate student at the State University of New York. Since seeing his first live opera – La Gioconda with Renata Tebaldi at the Met in 1967, the singing voice became his lifelong favourite instrument. In addition to his longtime contributions to La Scena Musicale and The Music Scene, he is Associate Editor of Opera Canada and a frequent contributor to Musical Toronto.

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