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Volume 14 - Issue 7 - April 2009

Scene from Opera Lirica

Scene from Opera Lirica ltaliana sNovember 2008 production of Toscaand "Otelia") extensively revised it andmade it a success. It features Italian baritonePaolo Gavanelli in the title role with TamaraWilson, Mikhail Agafonov and Phillip Ens ina production from the Royal Opera, CoventGarden, directed by Ian Judge and conductedby Marco Guidarini. See www.coc.ca.1882: Iolanthe. (Toronto Operetta Theatre,Apr 18-16, at the Jane Mallett Theatre). Formany Savoyards this is the quintessentialGilbert and Sullivan operetta. The overturningof the British Parliament by a band of fairiesand the reductio ad absurdam conclusion makeit the ultimate in the duo's visions of topsyturvydom.Despite its fame the professionalproduction of "Iolanthe" was back in 1984when it formed the climax of the StratfordFestival's G&S series directed by BrianMacdonald and designed by Susan Bensonwith Maureen Forrester as the formidableQueen of the Fairies. That role will beplayed by Wendy Hatala Foley, the TOT'soutstanding Katisha last year, with ElizabethDeGrazia as the innocent shepherdessPhyllis. Robert Cooper conducts the TOTOrchestra and Guillermo Silva-Marindirects. See www.torontooperetta.com.1890: Cavalleria rusticana I 1892:Pagliacci. Our second hiccup. OperaLirica Italiana had planned to present thisfavourite verismo double bill April 23 and25, but the WholeNote has learned thatthe three-year-old company has had topostpone the production until the fall. In themeantime, OLI artistic director MarianneZin-Orlowski is looking for people willingto donate time or financial support inhelping the company achieve its twin goalsof establishing a showcase for emergingCanadian artists fresh from opera schooland providing affordable, fully-stagedoperas for the greater Toronto community.Last year OLI formed a children's chorusto involve youth at an early age in the artform. Given government cutbacks to thearts OLI is dependent on the commitment ofindividuals of diverse backgrounds to sustainthe company as it continues to grow. Forinformation visit www .operaliricaitaliana.corn or contact Ms. Zin-Orlowskidirectly at 416-882-0246 or marianne@operaliricaitaliana. corn.Gabriele Viviani, Bulent Kulekyi, Corne/isOpthof, Peter McGillivray, and RobertGleadow in La Boheme1896: La Boheme. The COC stage theworld's most popular opera April 17-May24 at the Four Seasons Centre. The almostentirely Canadian cast includes FrederiqueVezina as Mimi, David Pomeroy as Rodolfo,Peter Barrett as Marcello, Robert Gleadow asColline and Jon-Paul Decosse as Schaunard.The single non-Canadian is New ZealanderAnna Leese as Musetta. The familiarproduction by Wolfram and Amrei Skalickiis directed by Maer Gronsdal Powell withJulian Kovatchev and Derek Bate trading offconducting duties on the podium.1904: Madama Butterfly. Another favouriteby Giacomo Puccini will be staged by OperaHamilton April 2-3 at Hamilton Place.This, the final offering of Opera Hamilton'sfirst season since its resurrection last year,CONTINUES ON PAGE 61toron ta a rt11counc il.....,.~,.. ,.,,,............... --------------------------........,....... "' -~........12 WWW . THEW HO LENOTE .COMAPRIL 1 - M AY 7 2009

FEATUREThe Russians areBy Colin EatockII IIThe Russians Are Coming isfilm director Norman Jewison'ssilly 1966 comedy about a Soviet-erasubmarine that runsaground off Cape Cod, Massachusetts,sending the local citizenryinto unfounded Cold-Warhysterics. In the last two decades,there's been another kindof Russian invasion: a flood ofmusicians, dancers and theatricalartists. This artistic outpour-ing was largely caused by the Dvoretskaia with Spivakovcollapse of the USSR in 1991.On one hand, this triggered a financial meltdown for many Russianmusicians, due to deep funding cuts for cultural institutions andactivities. On the other hand, it allowed Russian musicians to travelmuch more freely .Even Russia's most esteemed musicians found that in order tosucceed in the new environment, they needed new skills: entrepreneurialsavvy, a competitive spirit, and sheer determination. "InRussia in the 1990s," the famous Russian conductor Valery Gergievtold me in an interview a few years ago, "you couldn't possibly planby thinking first about money. You must have your plans - and ifyou have artistic force, the money will find you."Like many Western cities, Toronto has benefited from the politicaland economic upheavals half a world away. Since the 1990s,Toronto has played host to such Russian pianists as Evgeny Kissin,Boris Berman, Michael Berkovsky, Olga Kern and Alexander Toradze(he's Georgian, strictly speaking). Concert-pianist AlexanderTselyakov lives here. So do Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin, whorun Toronto's Off Centre Music Salon.And that's just the pianists: we also get a parade of Russian conductors,singers, instrumental soloists, chamber musicians, even theoccasional opera director. We also get large ensembles - most notably,Gergiev's Kirov Orchestra of St. Petersburg, which has visitedToronto three times. The next big Russian ensemble to visit will bethe National Philharmonic Orchestra, with pianist Denis Matsuev,which makes its Toronto debut at Roy Thomson Hall on April 28.In March, violist/conductor Yuri Bashmet brought his MoscowSoloists to Roy Thomson Hall. Following a masterclass that he gaveat the Remenyi House of Music the day before the concert, I had achance to interview him. I soon learned that when speaking about hischamber orchestra, he's anything but modest."It's the best orchestra," Bashmet stated with matter-of-fact directness."I've heard many orchestras, and this is the truth - it's notjust publicity. It's because they are musicians from the best schools,and we began the orchestra together. The chamber orchestra is 16years old, and only two musicians have changed."However, back in 1991, everything had changed. Bashmet's firstchamber orchestra - also called the Moscow Soloists - suddenlydisbanded in 1991 when all the players decided to relocate to WesternEurope. Undaunted, by this "divorce," he rebuilt his chamberorchestra in Russia with the players he leads today.Bashmet's astonishing concert at Roy Thomson Hall the nextevening underscored his grand claim about "the best orchestra". Butthe collapse of the Moscow Soloists in 1991 had underscored somethingelse. Russia had officially joined the capitalist world. But Russia'smusical culture hadn't quite adjusted to the new way of doingthings. Things happen there that probably couldn't happen elsewhere."I cannot say that a new system is well established, " saysVladimir Spivakov, conductor of the National Philharmonic Orchestra,by phone from Moscow. "But even in this current 'un-system, 'when the government doesn't want someone to go away, they organizean orchestra."continues next pagehere!GREAT CHAMBER MUSIC DOWNTOWNCelebrate the 20th anniversaryof Toronto's ownST. LAWRENCE QUARTETwith a new work of Brian Currentcommissioned for the occasion,plus sextets with founding playersBarry Shiffman and Marina HooverThursday April 2 at 8 pmGerman pianist MARKUS GROHfor his 4th MTO recitalplays Schulhoff,Brahms, Liszt and a newwork of Jeffrey RyanTuesday April 7at8 pmTHE TOKYO QUARTETplays Beethoven.What else needs tobe said?Thursday April 30at8 pm416-366-7723 • 1-800-708-6754order online at www.stlc.comAPRIL 1 - M AY 7 2009 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE . COM 13

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