This Week in Toronto (March 2 – 8)

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Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of March 2 to 8

Joseph So

Siberian-born Russian violinist Vadim Repin makes his Toronto recital debut on March 6th 8 pm at Koerner Hall, in a program of works by Ravel, Debussy, Bartok, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. Called the Russian Paganini thanks to his dazzling technique, Repin is appearing here with pianist Svetlana Smolina.

Violinist Vadim Repin

Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s New Creations Festival that began last week continues with two major events. First is the North American premiere of Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen’s Let me tell you, to take place on Wednesday, March 4th 8 pm.  Also on the program is George Benjamin’s Duet for piano and orchestra.  Peter Oundjian is the host and shares conducting duties with Benjamin. There’s going to be a pre-concert performance of new music, an intermission chat as well as a post-performance event. Click here for more details –

Composer George Benjamin (Photo: Christian Sinibaldi/The Guardian)
For opera fans, the centerpiece of this year’s New Creations Festival is the concert performance of George Benjamin’s Written On Skin. This opera was a sensation at Royal Opera Covent Garden two years ago. Erica Jeal, my colleague at Opera (uk) where I’m the Toronto correspondent/reviewer, gave it a 5-Star in her review in The Guardian. Barbara Hannigan is joined by mezzo Krisztina Szabo, tenor Isaiah Bell, baritone Christopher Purves and countertenor Bernhard Landauer in this performance. Composer George Benjamin conducts the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Saturday March 7 7:30 pm at Roy Thomson Hall.
Soprano Barbara Hannigan (Photo: Raphael Brand)
Soprano Barbara Hannigan manages to squeeze into her busy schedule a Workshop for Singers, Composers and Librettists at Walter Hall on Monday March 2 2 pm.  Joining Hannigan is composer Hans Abrahamsen and librettist Paul Griffiths. The workshop focuses on Abrahamsen’s new work, Let me tell you, which will have its North American premiere on Wednesday.
Soprano Nancy Argenta 
Another distinguished artist, soprano and baroque specialist Nancy Argenta, is in town to give a masterclass at University of Toronto.  Like Hannigan and many other Canadian opera singers – interestingly mostly women like Adrianne Pieczonka and Ingrid Attrot – Argenta studied with the great voice teacher Mary Morrison. Argenta’s masterclass is on Tuesday March 3rd 10 am to 1 pm in Walter Hall.

Capella Intima and the Gallery Players of Niagara present the only Toronto performance of An Evening of Ancient Music, featuring rounds, catches, airs, and a concert performance of Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. Jennifer Enns Modolo, Sheila Dietrich, Emily Klassen, David Roth and Bud Roach are the soloists. Performance on Friday March 6 7:39 pm at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor Street West.

Opera York  presents Mozart”s The Magic Flute, According to statistics from the last five completed seasons, Die Zauberfloete is the third most popular opera worldwide in terms of the number of performances (605), out of a total of 2,581 operatic works.  Only La traviata and Carmen are more popular. Canadian veteran bass Gary Relyea sings Sarastro, soprano Nicole Dubinsky is Queen of the Night, soprano Anne Marie Ramos is Pamina, Riccardo Iannello sings Tamino, and veteran baritone Douglas Tranquada is Papageno. Geoffrey Butler conducts. Two performances March 5 and 7 7:30 pm at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts.

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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