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Volume 18 Issue 1 - September 2012

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Beat by Beat | On

Beat by Beat | On OperaOperatic OverviewCHRISTOPHER HOILEThe 2 0 1 2 /1 3 season has a more conservative aura than have thepast several seasons. For the large companies, this is likely a resultof the perception four to five years ago when choices were made,that patrons with tighter resources would be less inclined to be adventurous.Nevertheless, while there is more standard repertoire on offer,there are still enough small companies in the city to offer the diversitywe have grown used to.COC: Compared to the past few seasonsthe upcoming choices of the Canadian OperaCompany ( are decidedly mainstream.The fall season opens Verdi’s Il Trovatore,not seen at the COC since 2005. The productionfrom L’Opéra de Marseilles runs September 29to October 31, 2012, and stars Ramón Vargas asManrico, Elza van den Heever as Leonora, ElenaManistina as Azucena and Russell Braun as theConte di Luna; Riccardo Massi sings Manrico onOctober 28 and 31. Marco Guidarini conducts andCharles Roubaud directs.Alternating with Il Trovatore is a new COC productionof Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss, Jr.The operetta was once one of the COC’s most performedworks with eight productions between1955 and 1991, but neither it nor any other operettahas been staged by the COC since then. Thefact that the COC has commissioned its ownnew production suggests that we will be seeingDie Fledermaus more often. Michael Schadesings Gabriel von Eisenstein, Tamara Wilson isRosalinde, Ambur Braid and Mireille Asselinalternate as Adele, Peter Barrett is Dr. Falke and,following tradition, Prince Orlofsky is played by awoman, Laura Tucker. The production is directedby Christopher Alden, who has directed the COC’s Der fliegendeHolländer and last year’s Rigoletto. Johannes Debus conducts.The winter season brings the first staging of Wagner’s Tristan undIsolde by the COC since 1987. It runs from January 29 to February 23.Ben Heppner is scheduled to sing Tristan with Burkhard Fritz takingover on February 8 and 23. Melanie Diener will sing Isolde withMargaret Jane Wray taking over on February 8 and 23. Famed directorPeter Sellars will recreate his production for L’Opéra national deParis that makes extensive use of video by Bill Viola. Renowned Czechconductor Jiří Bělohlávek will wield the baton. In repertory withTristan, from February 3 to 22, 2013, is Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito,not seen at the COC since 1991. Michael Schade sings the title role inChristopher Alden’s production created for the Chicago Opera Theater.Johannes Debus conducts.In the spring season we have Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor,not seen since 2004, running from April 17 to May 24, and starringAnna Christie in the title role. In repertory with Lucia is a revival ofAtom Egoyan’s staging of Salome, not seen since 2001, running fromApril 21 to May 22. Erika Sunnegårdh sings the title role with RichardMargison as Herod. In May the two operas are joined by Poulenc’sDialogues des Carmélites, not seen since 1997, which runs from May 8to 25. Isabel Bayrakdarian sings Blanche de la Force with Judith Forstas Madame de Croisy. The production from De Nederlandse Opera isdirected by Robert Carsen.Atelier: In 2012/13 Opera Atelier ( breaksexciting new ground with its first-ever production of a 19th-centuryopera, Der Freischütz (1821) by Carl Maria von Weber. Even thoughthe opera is standard repertory in central Europe, it has never beenstaged by the COC. The OA production will be the work’s first periodproduction in North America. While the 19th century may seem astretch for OA, it is not for the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra that hasalready played Beethoven’s symphonies to great acclaim and has programmedChopin for next season. Der Freischütz, running October 27to November 3, stars Krešimir Špicer as the title marksman Max, withVasil Garvanliev as the villain Kaspar and soprano Meghan Lindsay asMax’s beloved Agathe, whom he hopes to win as his bride in a contestof marksmanship. As usual Marshall Pynkoski directs and David Falliswill conduct Tafelmusik.In the spring, OA revives its beloved production of Mozart’s TheMagic Flute, running April 6 to 13. Since both Der Freischütz and TheMagic Flute are singspiele (using spoken dialogue instead of recitative)and since both involve the supernatural, they make a fine pairing— Mozart emphasizing the triumph of reason over the irrationaland Weber portraying just the opposite. TheMagic Flute features many OA favourites includingColin Ainsworth, Olivier Laquerre, AmburBraid and João Fernandes.TOT: Toronto Operetta Theatre ( present only two works thisseason. The end-of-year treat is Franz Lehár’sThe Merry Widow from December 28, 2012, toJanuary 6, 2013, starring Leslie Ann Bradley,Elizabeth Beeler, Adam Luther and Keith Klassen.In the spring, TOT has Offenbach’sBaritone Vasil Garvanliev back with Opera Atelier as Kaspar inDer Freischütz. Right: Ambur Braid and Mireille Asselin, picturedhere prior to sharing the title role in last season’s CanadianOpera Company Ensemble production of Semele, will share therole of Adele in this season’s production of Die Fledermaus.1866 operetta La Vie parisienne, not seen at the TOT since 1992,which runs from April 30 to May 5. It features Elizabeth DeGrazia andLauren Segal, and is conducted by Larry Beckwith.Beckwith is also the artistic director of Toronto Masque Theatre( From May 10 to 12, TMT willpresent a operatic double bill combining new and old, East and West.The first work will be Venus and Adonis (1683) by John Blow. Thesecond will be the world premiere of The Lesson of Da Ji by Torontocomposer Alice Ping Yee Ho to a libretto by Marjorie Chan based onthe Ming Dynasty fantasy novel The Investiture of the Gods. Beckwithwill lead an orchestra of combined baroque and Chinese instruments.OH: For further fully staged operas, Torontonians will have to takea trip down to Hamilton. Opera Hamilton (,which now performs in the more congenial Dofasco Centre ratherthan in Hamilton Place, will present Verdi’s Rigoletto on October 20,23, 25 and 27, 2012, and Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers on March 9, 12, 14and 16. OH has Jason Howard and Simone Osborne lined up for theVerdi and Brett Polegato and Virginia Hatfield for the Bizet.In concert: Operas presented in concert help give breadth to theseason. On November 1 and 3, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra( will present a double bill of Beethoven’s SymphonyNo.8 with Manuel de Falla’s one-act opera La Vida breve (1913) with acast of singers and flamenco dancers from Spain conducted by RafaelFrühbeck de Burgos. On February 15 and 16 the Toronto Consort willpresent the Canadian premiere of The Loves of Apollo and DaphnePHIL CROZIERSN BIANCA36 September 1 – October 7, 2012

(1640) by Francesco Cavalli with Charles Daniels, Katherine Hill andLaura Pudwell.Opera in Concert ( which is rebrandingitself as “Voicebox,” has scheduled the Canadian premiere of Rossini’sArmida (1817) for November 25, 2012, Handel’s Orlando (1733) forFebruary 3 accompanied by the Aradia Ensemble, and Massenet’sThaïs (1894) for March 24, starring Laura Whalen. Meanwhile, Operaby Request ( has immediate plans forUmberto Giordano’s Andrea Chenier (1896) on September 22 andWagner’s Die Walküre (1870) on September 29 with Rachel Clelandas Brünnhilde.June opera: June was once devoid of opera — but no longer.Sometime in June the upstart company Against the Grain (,known for staging opera in non-traditionalvenues, plans to present a new version of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figarotitled Figaro’s Wedding, rescored for piano and string quartet. Andalso sometime during the month Tapestry New Opera ( present the Toronto premiere of Shelter by JulietPalmer to a libretto by Julie Salverson about “a nuclear family adrift inthe atomic age” with a child who glows in the dark. Tapestry will alsopresent a workshop production of Ruth by Jeffrey Ryan to a librettoby Michael Lewis MacLennon based on the book in the Old Testamentbut applying the moral “your people shall be my people” to contemporaryCanadian society.And coming full circle: Speaking of Tapestry New Opera, too lateto deal with fully in this column, but just in time for this note, thisSeptember 21 to 23 will be the presentation of Tapestry’s 12th annual“Opera Briefs,” featuring the best of the new works arising from itsinvigorating annual summer composer-librettist workshop affectionatelyknown as the “LibLab.” See the listings, and the Tapestry website,for details.Christopher Hoile is a Toronto-based writer on opera and theatre.He can be contacted at·2013COC OperatOurs fOr the 2012/2013 seasOnA fabulous visit to the Metropolitan Opera in New York and to beautiful Zurich and Baden-Baden!new YOrkMarch 3 – 7, 2013the MetrOpOlitan OperaNo opera house in the world can equal theMet’s starry array of great singers!Zandonai Francesca da Riminic. Marco Armiliato with Eva-MariaWestbroek, Marcello Giordano, RobertBrubaker and Mark DelavanZuriCh and Baden-BadenMarch 19 – 29, 2013Opernhaus ZüriChWagner Parsifal c. Ulf Schirmerd. Claus Guth with Evgeny Nikitin,Jan-Hendrik Rootering, Stuart Skeltonand Angela DenokeBallet Evening TBASong RecitalChristian Gerhaher, baritonetOnhalleGrigory Sokolov, pianofestspielhaus Baden-BadenMozart Die Zauberflöte n.p.c. Sir Simon Rattle, d. Robert Carsen withSimone Kermes, Pavol Breslik, Kate Royal,Magdalena Kožená and José van DamVerdi Don Carlo c. Lorin Maazel withBarbara Frittoli, Anna Smirnova, RamónVargas, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, FerruccioFurlanetto and Eric HalfvarsonWagner Parsifal n.p. c. Daniele Gatti,d. François Girard, with a dream cast:Katarina Dalayman, Jonas Kaufmann,Peter Mattei, Evgeny Nikitin and René PapeViardot Cendrillon n.p.A real rarity from the 19th centuryConcertsA week-long residency by the BerlinPhilharmonic, conductors Sir SimonRattle and Mariss Jansons; threeconcerts of glorious late 19th- and early20th-century music:Brahms Violin Concerto, Maxim Vengerov;Piano Concerto No. 1, Krystian ZimermanMahler Symphony No. 2Bruckner Symphony No. 9Debussy La merRavel La valseTo receive complete booking information, please apply by e-mail to operatours@golden.netor send a separate, self-addressed and stamped envelope (business-size) to:COC Operatours c/o Merit Travel, 114 – 101 Cherryhill Blvd., London ON N6H 4S41-800-265-1141 x.6209Please indicate which tour is of interest to you.coc.cad. – Director c. – Conductor n.p. – New ProductionSeptember 1 – October 7, 2012 37

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