This Week in Toronto (Jan. 25 – 31)

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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 Brunnhilde of Christine Goerke. The rich, ringing tone of Alan Held (Wanderer) was a joy. The COC Orchestra under Johannes Debus made magnificent sounds for 5 hours (okay, that includes two relatively short intermissions). A full review to follow in Musical Toronto – I will update with the link here. Anyway, this show is not to be missed!  Yes it’s long but the music is glorious. Two performances this week, Jan. 27 at the early start time of 6:30 p.m. and Jan. 30 at the super-early start time of 4:30 p.m.

(l. to r.) Alan Held, Stefan Vinke, Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke in Siegfried (Photo: Michael Cooper)

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting a very interesting program this week, combining Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique with the gorgeously atmospheric tone poem The Swan of Tuonela by Sibelius.It’s one of those rare compositions, written specifically for cor anglais or English Horn. It’s called that but in reality it’s a lower-pitched oboe. To me, this piece has amazing suggestive power of imagery – just listening to the strings and its interplay with the woodwind gives me the chills. Watch this clip and see if you agree with me –  As if that’s not enough of an attraction, these performances also feature Canada’s “queen of new music” Barbara Hannigan in Dutilleux’s Correspondances. She has recorded this for Detusche Grammophon a few years ago. Peter Oundjian conducts. Performances at Roy Thomson Hall on Jan. 27 and 28.

Soprano Barbara Hannigan (Photo: Raphael Brand)

On Saturday Jan. 30th 3 p.m., the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra under the baton of conductor Shalom Bard is giving a concert at the MacMillan Theatre, Edward Johnson Building on the campus of University of Toronto. On the program are Sibelius Symphony No. 1, Rossini’s Overture to La gazza ladra, and Shostakovich’s Festive Overture.

Russian pianist Denis Matsuev

Another important concert this week is the recital by the fabulous Russian pianist Denis Matsuev on Saturday Jan. 30  8 p.m. at Koerner Hall. He is in the middle of a North American tour and thanks to Show One Productions, he’s making Toronto one of his stops.  However, it’s already sold-out, but you can always check with the box office for returns.  He is playing a program of works by Schumann and Rachmaninoff.

Violinist Daniel Hope (Photo: Harald Hoffmann)

British violinist Daniel Hope had a long association with the late, great Yehudi Menuhin. At the age of 11, Hope was invited by Menuhin to play Bartok duos with him on German television, thus beginning a long artistic partnership that resulted in over 60 concerts, including Menuhin’s last performance on March 7th 1999, when the great maestro conducted Hope’s performance of Schnittke’s Violin Concerto. On Thursday Jan. 28th 8 p.m. at Koerner Hall, Hope joins German pianist Sebastian Knauer in a recital, billed Yehudi Menuhin @100. They will perform pieces by Bach, Enescu, Mendelssohn, Walton, Ravel and Bartok.

The august Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is giving a free community concert on Saturday January 30th 3 p.m. at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church. It’s general seating, so get there early! Doors open at 2:15 p.m. TMC is accepting donations to support their outreach program. Suggested donation is $10. This concert is given in conjunction with the 6th Annual Choral Conductor’s Symposium, which is open to the public for a fee.  The concert will be webcast on Livestream at  New for 2016, the concert will include the premieres of two works submitted to the TMC Choral Composition Competition. For more information, go to


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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