Browsing: This Week in Toronto

Canadian pianist Marc Andre Hamelin (Photo: Fran Kaufmann) First of all, a very Happy New Year to all the readers of This Week in Toronto – may 2016 brings you plenty of what I call the 3 H’s –  Health, Happiness, and of course Heavenly Music! This being the first full week of January, most music presenters are yet to gear up for the new year. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is currently on a tour of Florida – how lovely! – and the Canadian Opera Company is in rehearsal for its first winter season production of Siegfried.  That said, there…

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Happy Holidays Everyone ! (Photo: Joseph So) Given that classical musical presentations are much reduced during the week surrounding Christmas, I’ve combined the two weeks in my weekly preview, as I’ve done in previous years. That said, there are still a few notable events worthy of your consideration. Soprano Karina Gauvin (Photo: Michael Slobodian) Top on my list is Bravissimo! the annual operatic concert on New Year’s Eve presented by Canadian impresario Attila Glatz of Attila Glatz Concert Productions. Billed as “Opera’s Greatest Hits,” it’s an evening of standard arias and duets sung by an international cast of soloists, with…

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George Frideric Handel Portrait by Balthasar Denner The third week of December is traditionally one of heavy-duty Messiah presentations in Toronto. Perhaps it reflects my personal bias, top on my list is the one by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall, with a stellar quartet of soprano Erin Wall, mezzo Elizabeth DeShong, tenor Andrew Staples and bass-baritone John Relyea. Three of the four are well known to Toronto opera audiences. Wall (Clemence in L’amour de loin; Antonia in Les contes d’Hoffmann) is a resident of the GTA and she’ll sing the Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro at the Canadian Opera…

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Cirque de la Symphonie (Photo: www.cirquedelasymphonie.com) December is that time of year when Holiday programming dominates the concert calendar. There are plenty to choose from, whether you fancy large scale shows the likes of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra or the more intimate venues like your local church just around the corner.  As usual, my choices are not meant to be comprehensive but they represent my own personal, “voice-centric” and perhaps idiosyncratic tastes. The TSO is presenting a kids-friendly show this week. The big draw is the appearance of Cirque de la Symphonie with their acrobatic feats. TSO’s pops conductor Steven…

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Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky Top vocal news this week is the recital by Canada’s “Bel Canto Queen” Sondra Radvanovsky, under the auspices of Show One Productions. The American-born soprano makes her home a stone’s throw from the GTA. So far we’ve enjoyed her Aida and Elisabetta, as well as her first Four Last Songs with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and a couple of recitals. This Friday Dec. 4th 8 pm at Koerner Hall, she’ll be giving a recital with her regular pianist, Anthony Manoli, in a program of songs by Vivaldi, Bellini, Strauss and Liszt. This is a great opportunity to…

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Russian pianist Yulianna Avdeeva (Photo: Christine Schneider) The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is busy this week with several events. As part of the TSO’s Bravissimo Masterworks Series, Kent Nagano and the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal are in Toronto for an evening of music making. Opening the program with Bach / arr. by Mahler Suite for Orchestra, Harpsichord and Organ, followed by Stravinsky’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra. The soloist is Russian pianist Yulianna Avdeeva who won First Prize at the Warsaw Chopin Competition in 2010. The centerpiece of the evening is Shostakovich Symphony No. 10.  There’s a friendly rivalry between the TSO and…

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The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting an evening called Arabian Nights, with the centerpiece being Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, based of course on a story from Thousand and One Nights. If memory serves, it was programmed not long ago with TSO concertmaster Jonathan Crow as the soloist. It’s brought back now and will go on tour with the TSO to Florida later this season. Also on the program is Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No.1 with the TSO long-time clarinetist Joaquin Valdepenas. Rounding out the evening is Canadian composer’s John Estacio’s Wondrous Light, which is the short, second movement of his work Borealis, inspired by…

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Even with the 2015 fall opera season consigned to history, there are still a few interesting concerts for the die hard voice fans. Met-Auditions winner and former COC Ensemble Studio soprano Simone Osborne is the soprano soloist in Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. This is part of the TSO’s Decades Project that explores the ten years from 1900 to 1909 where European arts and culture underwent revolutionary changes.  This is a really exciting project which was brought home to me when I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario this week. The AGO and TSO have teamed up…

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Soprano Karine Boucher, Co-MC of Centre Stage 2015 (Photo: Kevin Lloyd) The big news for voice fans this week is the 2015 Centre Stage, also known as the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Competition. Every year at around this time, aspiring young singers across Canada, pre-selected through an auditioning process, are invited to compete for a spot in next year’s COC Ensemble Studio. As the premiere young artist program in Canada, it has nurtured many singers who have since gone on to significant careers at home and abroad.  This year, there are eight singers chosen to appear on Centre Stage on…

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COC’s Pyramus and Thisbe (Photo: Michael Cooper) The fall season of the Canadian Opera Company continues with La traviata and Pyramus and Thisbe. Last week, I attended the premiere of P&T, a triple bill that combined two Monteverdi fragments with a new opera composed by Canadian Barbara Monk Feldman, an interesting juxtaposition.  In the early publicity material put out by the COC, they used the Nicolas Poussin painting which inspired Monk Feldman to compose this opera.  Visually the production with its Rothko-inspired backdrop has absolutely nothing to do with the Poussin painting (see above). Similarly, the music as expected is…

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