Browsing: La Scena Online

With the opera and ballet in hiatus in July and August, the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto is normally dark – but not this summer. Dancap Productions is currently putting on the ever popular South Pacific at the opera house. This is the touring version of the Lincoln Center production that won 7 Tony Awards in 2008. Based on the opening night performance I saw last Sunday, it is indeed a very entertaining show with excellent singing from all concerned, particularly Welsh Canadian bass baritone Jason Howard as Emile de Becque and Carmen Cusack as Nellie Forbush. There are many…

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Photo: courtesy of Stratford Summer MusicOne of the joys of attending concerts is the discovery of new artists, the “new stars”, on the scene. In the case of piano wunderkind Jan Lisiecki, there is no question that at the tender age of 15, he has already established himself as one of the brightest stars on the horizon. Born in Calgary of Polish parents, Lisiecki made his orchestral debut at the age of 9 and has performed as a soloist with orchestras more than 50 times in Canada and abroad. He has given numerous recitals as well, in some of the…

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by Paul E. RobinsonThe Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (OSM) is an orchestra without a home – at least in the summertime. For some years now, it has been trying to cobble together a summer work schedule that would satisfy its commitments to players, its financial responsibilities, and the larger Quebec area’s classical music-loving public. OSM’s latest experiment took place this past week at Festival Orford, both at Orford itself and in the nearby town of Magog, one of Quebec’s prime destinations for summer vacationers. Is this the answer for the perpetually itinerant OSM? Maybe yes, and maybe no; it is…

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Last Saturday (July 31) was the anniversary of the death of the great Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, who died on that date 124 years ago. Liszt was of course famous for his piano compositions, but he was also an inspired composer of songs. Here is one of his greatest, “Oh! quand je dors” set to text by Victor Hugo. This song is part of Volume Two of a group of songs Liszt composed in 1843. These songs are often performed in recitals today, but particularly this one song, which defines Liszt as a songwriter. There are literally dozens of versions…

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Photo: A modern dress Roberto Devereux starring Edita Gruberova and Sonia GanassiRoberto Devereux; The Queen Rules Again, at the Munich Opera Festival, Sunday, July 4, 2010Richard Rosenman, Editor, Wagner News, Toronto Wagner SocietyLSM Guest ReviewerThis is the second season that the Bayerische Staatsoper offers Edita Gruberova in a Gaetano Donizetti vehicle. Wisely or not, it had resisted mounting two of the three queens, last year’s contribution being Lucrezia Borgia. This historical melodrama of intrigue, forbidden love and corruption in Elizabeth’s I court, here shorn of its costumes and royal interiors, is less an equivalent of our time soap opera than…

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Photo: Dialogues of the Carmelites, Munich Opera Festival, July 2010Dialogues des Carmelites. Russian steppes or French countryside?Richard Rosenman, Editor, Wagner News (Toronto Wagner Society)LSM Guest ReviewerThe curtain rises on a vignette that promises but not delivers the expectation produced –an iconic street scene of rushing, anonymous multitudes is contrasted with a lone immobile figure apart, alone. This is Blanche, and a deep silence envelops all.This production of Francis Poulenc’s work, revived from the Munich premiere of March 28, 2010, tries to be a mood piece – a lonely cabin in nowhere, an island of light in a dark nothingness; but…

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Photo: Matthias Goerne makes a welcome return to Toronto after an absence of several years. Summer is usually a quiet time musically in Toronto, but not any more. Since my return from music-rich Munich on Monday, I have been attending a performance every day in TO. Tuesday was the Matthias Goerne-Andreas Haefliger recital at Koerner Hall, a highly anticipated event for voice aficionados. Wednesday morning was the Goerne Masterclass at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, and last evening was a chamber recital with Andrew Burashko and his Art of Time Ensemble, on the music of Korngold. All of…

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I was sad to read that English tenor Anthony Rolfe-Johnson passed away at 69 on July 21 in London. Rolfe-Johnson had been ill for several years with Alzheimer’s. I have vivid memories of his Peter Grimes which I saw at the Met in the 1990s. I remember at the time, I went hoping to hear Ben Heppner, but got Rolfe-Johnson instead. I was not at all disappointed. His interpretation was quite different from the Grimes I was used to, having seen both Jon Vickers (twice) and Ben Heppner in Vancouver, Chicago and the Met. Rolfe-Johnson was a lyric tenor, with…

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Photo (l.) Die schweigsame Frau curtain call (Franz Hawlata, Diana Damrau, Toby Spence)Photo (r.) Opening of Act 3 (Diana Damrau & Franz Hawlata) Among this year’s smorgasbord of operas at the Munich Festival, none was more intriguing than the new production of Die schweigsame Frau, among the most rarely performed of Strauss operas. Given its rarity, it is easy to come to the conclusion that it is either poor music or impossible to stage. If the new production at the Munich Festival is any indication, it is neither. The score, simply put, is gorgeous, particularly the end of Acts 2…

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By Frank CadenheadThe first concert of my week at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland was, I expect, not the highlight. While the festival program correctly listed the conductor as Paul McCreesh, the Canadian star I had hoped to see, Measha Brueggergosman, had been replaced by another star, Sophie Koch. I was not too dismayed because this French mezzo is one of the great voices you are likely to hear these days. The program was also changed and Berlioz’s “La Mort de Cléopatre” was now the same composer’s song cycle, “Les Nuits d’Eté,” to the text by Théophile Gautier. I did not…

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