Browsing: La Scena Online

Introducing Canadian Pianist Leonard GilbertTwenty year old pianist talks about pursuing the dream of a career in music By Joseph K. So The International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition is certainly one of the most prestigious in the world, given the number – and the calibre – of distinguished laureates it has produced in its august history. The road to Warsaw is a long and arduous one. In the case of Canadian pianist Leonard Gilbert, his unqualified success of First Prize, as well as the Mazurka and Polonaise prizes, at the Canadian Chopin Competition held last March in Toronto meant he…

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This Saturday marks the birthday of Italian opera composer Umberto Giordano (Aug. 28 1867 – Nov 12 1948). Among the fourteen operas composed by Giordano, only Andrea Chenier has earned a place in the standard repertoire. (His Fedora, often regarded as a diva vehicle, is occasionally revived) First performed at La Scala in 1896, Chenier is loosely based on the historical figure of French poet Andre Chenier (1762-1792) who died on the guillotine during the French Revolution. This opera is one of the best examples of the verismo style, a genre of rather lurid librettos inhabited by fiery characters with out-sized…

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Jason Howard (Emile) and Carmen Cusack (Nellie) in South Pacific (Photo: Kim Ritzenthaler)Scorching heat and unrelenting humidity, the opening of the CNE, and the struggling Blue Jays – all signs that we are in the dog days of summer. So what better diversion than spending an evening in an air-conditioned theatre, especially when we have a show as entertaining as South Pacific? This touring version of the Lincoln Center production won seven Tony Awards back in 2008. With the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada normally in hiatus in the months of July and August, Dancap Productions…

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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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