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Volume 19 Issue 7 - April 2014

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Nariné

Nariné Ananikyan,soloist for the NationalOpera of Armenia,is Carmen, GayanéMangassarian isMicaëla while StanislasVitort and JamesCiantar alternate in therole of Don José.1876:Siegfried byRichard Wagner onApril 5. Opera byRequest takes onthe heroic task ofpresenting Wagner’smythological opera inconcert with LenardWhiting as Siegfried,Oliver Dawson asMime, Andrew Tees as Above: A scene from OperaWotan, Margarete von Five’s production of In PaceVaight as Brünnhilde Requiescat, October 2013.and John Holland asRight: Neema BickerstethAlberich. The tirelessWilliam ShookhoffNew Opera’s upcomingappears in Tapestryconducts fromTap:Ex Revolutionthe piano.1893:Hänsel und Gretel by EngelbertHumperdinck from April 25 to 27. Metro YouthOpera (metroyouthopera.ca) was founded by KateApplin in 2010 to give Toronto’s young opera singersthe chance to perform complete roles. The company’s fourth productionis Humperdinck’s beloved fairy-tale opera first conducted byRichard Strauss. Kate Applin and Lyndsay Promane sing Gretel andher brother Hänsel, Kelsey Vicary and Peter Bass are their Mother andFather and Stephanie Trichew is the Witch. Director Alison Wong hasrelocated the setting to a dangerous urban world. Blair Salter is themusic director. The opera is sung in German with English surtitles.1898: L’Île du rêve by Reynaldo Hahn from May 1 to 3. This three-actopera is the second half of the double bill by Opera 5 above. This, thefirst opera of Hahn (1874-1947), a Venezuelan-born French composerbest known for his songs, is subtitled an “idylle polynésienne” and isbased on Pierre Loti’s account of his romantic liaison with a nativewoman in Tahiti in 1880.1921: Der Vetter aus Dingsda by Eduard Künneke on May 1 to 4. Thefinal offering of the season from Toronto Operetta Theatre(torontooperetta.com) is the Canadian premiere of an operetta by theBerlin composer Eduard Künneke (1885-1953), who studied with MaxBruch and wrote four operas, twelve operettas and two musicals. TheTOT is translating the title as The Cousin from Nowhere, but whenthe Ohio Light Opera presented it, it chose the title The Cousin fromBatavia. Just as we say “whatshisname” when we can’t think of thename of a person, Germans say “Dingsda” when they can’t think ofthe name of a place. The action takes place in Holland where Julia hasbeen waiting for the return of her beloved from his travel to Batavia,as the Dutch colony in Indonesia was known. A stranger appearswho introduces himself as the nephew of Julia’s guardians, but Juliacan’t tell whether he is or is not her beloved Roderich. The operettais packed with one memorable tune after another, the most famousbeing the stranger’s song “Ich bin nur ein armer Wandergesell.”While some over here may not have heard of it, the operetta is sopopular in Europe that there have been five new productions of it inGermany and Switzerland since 2012. In fact, when the Ohio LightOpera presented it in 2000, the demand for tickets was so strongthe show was brought back in 2002. The TOT production featuresLucia Cesaroni, Elizabeth Beeler, Christopher Mayell, Stefan Fehr andKeenan Viau. Jurgen Petrenko makes his TOT conducting debut andGuillermo Silva-Marin directs.1932: Pedro Malazarte by Camargo Guarneri on April 2 byUniversity of Toronto Opera Division. PedroMalazarte is the first presentation in a newinitiative at the Opera Division called “OperaRara.” The aim is to bring to light unfamiliaror unjustly neglected works from the past.In this case conducting student Rafael Luzfrom Brazil wanted to stage this one-actcomic opera from his native country inwhat will be its North American premiere.Guarneri (1907-1993), whose parentsburdened him with the first name “Mozart,”wrote two operas, the other being theone-act tragedy Um Homem Só (1960). Hiscomic opera concerns the Brazilian folk heroMalazarte, who is hoping to have an affairwith the fair Baiana. When her husbandAlamão unexpectedly returns home,Malazarte manages a clever turnabout.Rafael Luz conducts and Amanda Smithdirects at the Lula Lounge. Admission is free.2014: Etiquette by Monica Pearce / Reginaby Elisha Denburg / Heather by ChristopherThornborrow on April 5. Essential Opera (essentialopera.com)presents a triple bill of brand newoperas. Etiquette, composed to a libretto by JohnTerauds, former music critic for the Toronto Star,looks at life through the eyes of Dorothy Parker,Emily Post and Nancy Astor. Regina, composed toa libretto by Maya Rabinovitch, tells the story ofRegina Jonas, who in 1935 Berlin became the firstwoman to be ordained a rabbi. Heather, composedto a libretto by Julie Tepperman, explores the phenomenon of onlinebullying between girls and young women. This varied program isconducted by David Passmore with musical director Cheryl Duvall atthe piano and a cast that includes Erin Bardua, Maureen Batt, JuliaMorgan, Keith O’Brien and Jesse Clark. Visit the website to contributeto the Indiegogo campaign to support these premieres.2014: Europa and the White Bull by James Rolfe on April 25 and26. Toronto Masque Theatre (torontomasquetheatre.com) exploresthe myth of Zeus’ rape of the maiden Europa in a program called“The Myth of Europa: Desire, Transformation and Possession.” First itpresents the cantata L’Europe by Michel Pignolet de Montéclair (1667-1737). Second is a new work Europa and the White Bull by composerJames Rolfe to a libretto by Steven Heighton that looks at the darkerthemes of the story. The evening features soprano Suzie LeBlanc,actor Martin Julien, dancer Stéphanie Brochard with Larry Beckwithconducting the TMT Ensemble from the violin. Marie-NathalieLacoursière is the choreographer and stage director.2014: L’Homme et le ciel by Adam Scime on April 11 only. FAWNOpera (fawnopera.com) presents the world premiere of Scime’selectro-acoustic chamber opera in a workshop production. IanKoiter’s libretto, based on text “The Shepherd of Hermas” from thesecond century concerns one man’s struggle to live righteously. Thesoloists are baritone Giovanni Spanu and sopranos Larissa Koniukand Adanya Dunn. Patrick Murray conducts the Thin Edge New MusicCollective and Amanda Smith directs.2014: Tap: Ex Revolutions by Tapestry New Opera on April 4 and 5.“Tap:Ex” (short for Tapestry Explorations) is a new project by Tapestry(tapestryopera.com) to explore the relationship between physicaland musical expression. The performance will involve singers NeemaBickersteth, Andrea Ludwig, Adrian Kramer and Andrew Love, choreographerMarie-Josée Chartier and director Michael Mori using musicfrom Bach, Rachmaninov, Meredith Monk, Andrew Staniland and IvanBarbotin.As usual, there is more than enough on offer in the 365 yearsencompassed by these listings to create your own opera festival.Christopher Hoile is a Toronto-based writer on opera and theatre.He can be contacted at opera@thewholenote.com.16 | April 1 – May 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

Beat by Beat | Classical & BeyondFearless HaasQuartet DebutPAUL ENNISThe Pavel Haas Quartet, the acclaimed Czech string quartet, makesits highly anticipated Toronto debut April 10 in Walter Hall. Themusic world began to take notice of the group’s youthful vigourthree years into the quartet’s life when it won the Paolo Borcianicompetition in Italy in the spring of 2005. A Supraphon recordcontract soon led to their first two CDs containing material close totheir hearts, Janáček’s two string quartets and Pavel Haas’ three. Theirpenultimate recording, a disc of Dvořák’s String Quartets No. 12 inF major “American” and No. 13 in G major, was greeted with widespreadcritical acclaim culminating in Gramophone magazine’sRecord of the Year award in the fall of 2011.I’m looking forward to their performance of Brahms Quartet No.2 in A minor with its lovely opening movement’s dusky poignancy.Like The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Britten’s StringQuartet No. 2 in C Major celebrates the work of Henry Purcell, whomBritten rightly called “the last important figure of English music.”I’m also eagerly anticipating the Pavel Haas Quartet’s venture intosuch a singular British realm, in particular the last movement themeand variations chacony that ends with a huge celebration. They’recertainly familiar with the U.K., having performed in Wigmore Halland beyond and been artists in residence for three years in GlasgowRoyal Concert Halls.First violinist Veronika Jarůšková formed the group with fellowstudents of Milan Škampa, the legendary violist of the celebratedSmetana Quartet. An interview on Tokafi.com in 2007 soon aftertheir first recording, revealed that Škampa was their biggest artisticinfluence: “He taught us about quartet dialogue and about life asa quartet.” Their idea of what constitutes a good live performancecontinues to be their byword: “Most important is to hand over ourfeeling through music to the audience.”In an email exchange I asked founding PHQ violist Pavel Niki howthe quartet chose its name:“It was a coincidence,” he said. “At the time when we were tryingto find a suitable name, a good friend of ours showed us a recordingof the second string quartet composed by Pavel Haas and we liked itvery much. So we asked his daughter, who still lives in Brno to gether consent to name our group after her father. She agreed. And allof us are happy that such great music [of Pavel Haas] will not fall intooblivion despite the fact he died very young [at 45] in a concentrationcamp and a lot of his music disappeared with him.”In a 2010 interview with Graham Strahle in the Adelaide Review,PHQ cellist Peter Jarusek (Jarůšková’s husband) said that their namesakeis a beacon for what the quartet seeks to achieve on an artisticlevel. “It is the unwavering genuineness of the man and what he didthat means a lot to us. We are a young group, but that doesn’t meanthat we consciously set out to be more attractive, stylistically innovativeor anything like that. We just try to communicate the best we canto our audience, that is with intimacy and no artifice.Haas’ music is all highly personal, original music from a man whobelieved very deeply in what he was doing. Throughout his musiche uses many Jewish melodies, and you can feel it is Jewish. At thesame time, he was fearlessly innovative. His Second String Quartet,for instance, which he called ‘From the Monkey Mountains,’ actuallyincludes percussion in the last movement, and it’s an absolute riot. Itreally is like big band music for string quartet.”In response to a question about the way the group chooses itsmaterial Niki replied: “We try to choose pieces from every period ofclassical music to achieve a rich repertoire. We are lucky that no one isforcing us to play what we ourselves do not want to play. So we simplychoose what we would like to play. The repertoire for string quartet isThe Pavel Haas Quartet: (from left) Pavel Niki, VeronikaJarůšková, Peter Jarusek, Marek Zweibel.so rich that we are not able to play so much beautiful music during alifetime. “The quartet’s most recent recording was released last September.Featuring Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 “Death and the Maiden”and the Cello Quintet with Danjulo Ishizaka, the CD has generated amajor outpouring of praise. Here’s an example from British bloggerPeter Smith: “The Times reviewer wrote ‘If CDs had grooves I wouldalready have worn out these marvellous recordings … the perfectfusion of virtuosity and profundity.’ Indeed. These performances areof a quite unworldly quality, deeply felt yet utterly thought-through,the most passionate you have heard but with moments of hauntingdelicacy, with an overarching architectural vision always holding it alltogether.”The Gramophone reviewer wrote about their “fearless risk-taking,their fervency” and “insanely memorable phrasing,” calling the PHQ“absolutely mesmerizing” and “raw, visceral, and with an emotionalGlionna MansellPresentsA Music Series unlike any other14April 2014 through to November 2014Tickets and passes available onlinewww.organixconcerts.ca416-769-3893Kerry Beaumont - April 25, 7:30 pm Shawn Potter - June 20, 7:30 pmOur Lady of Sorrows, 3055 Bloor St. West All Saints' Kingsway - 2850 Bloor St. WestWitold Zalewski - May 16, 7:30 pm Rhonda Sider Edgington - Sept. 19, 7:30 pmSt. Paul’s Anglican, 227 Bloor St. East Holy Trinity Anglican - 10 Trinity SquareJames David Christie - June 6, 8:00 pm Elisabeth Ullmann - Oct. 19, 4:00 pmSt. Basil's (U of T) - 50 St. Joseph Street Our Lady of Sorrows, 3055 Bloor St. WestNosetti Memorial Concert - Nov 12, 7:30 pmMaxine Thevenot, Eugenio Fagiani and Omar CaputiSt. Paul's Anglican, 227 Bloor St. Eastthewholenote.com April 1 – May 7, 2014 | 17

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