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Rufus Wainwright in his one-man show All Days Are Nights/Songs for Lulu (Photo: courtesy of Luminato Festival)Luminato Festival: All Days Are Nights:Songs for LuluJune 15, 2010 7:30 p.m. Elgin TheatreJoseph K. SoA genuinely funny moment happened at the show last night. In the middle of the second half of Rufus Wainwright’s one-man show, he turned to the audience and said he’s dedicating the next song to the Toronto Star, in which the reviewer “compared my opera to a Loblaws bag as opposed to something you’d buy in Louis Vuitton – obviously he’s identified himself as a real label queen.” This…

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If classical music had a more honoured place in our culture, Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s appointment to head the Philadelphia Orchestra would have been front page news in every newspaper in the country. Get a life, people, this is an historic event! Never mind that Canadian conductors have long since gotten used to doors being shut in their faces in their own country. It is by now a cliché to say that Canadians have to go elsewhere to find success. But YNS has not only found success abroad, he has climbed Mt. Everest. Two years ago he was conducting opera with Rolando…

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Rufus Wainwright at the opening of his Prima Donna (Photo: courtesy of Luminato Festival) By Joseph K. So Wainwright/Colomine: Prima Donna Regine St. Laurent /Janis Kelly, soprano Marie / Charlotte Ellett, soprano Andre / Colin Ainsworth, tenor Philippe / Gregory Dahl, baritone Francois /Joe Bucci Sophie /Miranda Calderon Tim Albery, Stage Director Robert Houssart, Conductor Antony McDonald, Designer Thomas Hase, Lighting William Reynolds, Projection The much anticipated North American premiere of Rufus Wainwright’s opera, Prima Donna, had its opening last evening at the Elgin Theatre in downtown Toronto. The glitterati were out in force and and there was the obligatory…

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Janis Kelly in Prima Donna (Photo: Antony Crook)Toronto’s Luminato Festival of Arts and Creativity is in full flight this week, with a plethora of activities throughout the downtown core. There are several top attractions for classical music lovers. (If you missed Dark Star Requiem on the Opening Weekend, you can catch it on CBC2 on December 1, in conjunction with World AIDS Day) At the top of the list this week is Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna. It stars Scottish soprano Janis Kelly in the central role of Regine Saint Laurent. St on Bastille Day, 1970, St. Laurent, an opera singer,…

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Image from Dark Star Requiem REVIEW: Dark Star Requiem (Staniland & Battson)by Joseph K. SoDark Star Requiem (Staniland and Battson)Presented by Tapestry New Opera Works and the Luminato FestivalWayne Strongman, music director/conductorTom Diamond, directorBeth Kates, design and projectionsBen Chaisson, design and projectionsNeema Bickersteth, sopranoKrisztina Szabo, mezzoPeter McGillivray, baritoneMarcus Nance, bass-baritoneThe Elmer Iseler SingersGryphon TrioThe Fourth Annual Luminato Festival of Arts and Creativity opened this weekend with a multitude of events in many venues across the city of Toronto. I attended the world premiere of Dark Star Requiem, staged by Tapestry New Opera Works in conjunction with the Festival. As Battson…

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By L.H. Tiffany HsiehAside from the fact that one is Chinese and the other Polish, pianist YUNDI bears an uncanny likeness to the composer that made him famous — the longish hair, the effeminateness, and the pale, sad-eyed look.And maybe because he was the first pianist in 15 years to be awarded first prize at the 2000 International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition, YUNDI has emerged as a kind of prince of Chopin; he would dazzle us with virtuosic techniques and romantic melodies.Playing Chopin’s E-minor Piano Concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Thursday night, the 27-year-old pianist did just that. That being said,…

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MontrealJune 10 – 20The St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary this summer. Founded by Kris Kieran and Nick Morra, the festival fell into Jeremy Hechtman’s hands in 1996 and has since become one of the Plateau-Mile-End’s largest cultural events. This year, the festival has expanded to 20 days and divided itself into three series. Starting June 1st, the Fringe After Dark Series will present a concert, special event or activity every evening, including a slow-dance night and a strip spelling-bee. By June 10th, the Fringe Park Series, at Parc-des-Amériques (corner of Rachel and St-Laurent), will host a plethora of…

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This Friday marks the birthday of Richard Strauss, who was born in Munich on June 11, 1864. It’s said that Strauss was God’s gift to the soprano voice. Of the 15 operas he composed, the most memorable music, with a few exceptions, belongs to the soprano. (It’s also said that Strauss hated tenors as he wrote the most difficult and ungrateful music for them, but that’s another story!) In addition to his large operatic output are many fabulous songs, none more glorious than Vier letzte Lieder, or Four Last Songs. Composed near the end of his life, the atmosphere is…

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By L.H. Tiffany HsiehCanadian cellist Shauna Rolston isn’t easily replaceable. But when Soo Bae, another Canadian cellist, took her place at Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio on May 14, the only cellist that mattered was the one featured on centre stage.Rolston was to give the world premiere of Canadian composer Heather Schmidt’s Cello Concerto and perform Tchaikovsky’s Nocturne for Cello and Strings. However, she couldn’t make it last minute due to personal reasons. In a revised program of Sinfonia Toronto’s final concert of the season, Bae, 33, charmed the audience with loads of wits and personality in Boccherini’s Sonata No. 6 (adagio and allegro…

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Photo: Chinese pianist Yundi, aka Yundi LiMusic lovers in Toronto have the great good fortune of hearing two internationally ranked pianists with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra “back to back.” Argentinean Ingrid Fliter was in town for Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 last week, and this coming week we have Chinese pianist Yundi Li – now officially re-branded as Yundi – playing Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1. Their presence in Toronto so closer together is particularly meaningful – some of us will remember that these two artists took the top two places in the 2000 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Yundi…

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