8 years ago

Volume 20 Issue 5 - February 2015

  • Text
  • February
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Musical
  • Symphony
  • Theatre
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  • Soprano
  • Composer
  • Orchestra
  • Hannigan
  • Ascending
Volume 20 Issue 5

Simone Osborne and

Simone Osborne and Karine Boucher alternate as Micaëla. And Americans Christian Van Horn and Zachary Nelson alternate as the toreador Escamillo. Italian conductor Paolo Carignani leads the COC Orchestra and Chorus in 13 performances from April 12 to May 15. Closing the 15/16 season is the COC premiere of Rossini’s rarely performed grand bel canto opera Maometto II (1820), featuring star Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni in his COC debut. The libretto is based on the historical Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II (1432- 81), who set out to conquer the Holy Roman Empire. The production from Santa Fe Opera’s successful 2012 revival is directed by Christopher Alden’s identical twin brother David, who gave us Rigoletto in a men’s club in 2011. Joining Pisaroni are American mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong as the Venetian noble Calbo, American soprano Leah Crocetto as Maometto’s forbidden love Anna and American Bruce Sledge as the Venetian governor Erisso. Baroque and classical specialist Harry Bicket conducts the seven performances from April 29 to May 14. It’s odd that Neef would rehire both Alden brothers after the loud disapproval their work has received here over the past several years (especially in light of a decline of 4924 subscription tickets from 2013 to 2014). Nevertheless, there is very good news in Neef’s reaffirmation of the COC’s commitment to new Canadian operas. Donna, previously commissioned from composer John Rolfe and librettist Anna Chatterton, will have a workshop production at Banff this summer. Hadrian, commissioned from pop composer Rufus Wainwright and playwright Daniel MacIvor, is moving ahead – a first draft of the libretto is at hand. New this year is the announcement of a commission of The Girl King, by Ana Soloković, composer of such hits for the much-missed Queen of Puddings as The Midnight Court in 2005 and Svadba – Wedding in 2011. The libretto will be by Quebecois playwright Michel Marc Bouchard based on his play of the same name about Queen Christina of Sweden (1626-89) that played last year at the Stratford Festival. And also in the works is a revival of Louis Riel (1967) by Harry Somers to star Russell Braun. Soundstreams: It’s important when Canada’s largest producer of opera commits to producing so many new operas over the coming years. Yet, we should not forget that many of Toronto’s smaller companies have always had a commitment to producing new work. One such is Soundstreams. From February 26 to March 1 Above and below: the whisper opera set; four squares around a central hub. Soundstreams hosts the Canadian premiere of the whisper opera (2013) by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer David Lang. Lang’s libretto is compiled from search-engine responses to such prompts as “When I think of you, I think of …” to explore the tension between our private and online selves. Soprano Tony Arnold and New York’s International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) have already received acclaim for the piece at Lincoln Center and at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The opera is so quiet and so delicate that it can be experienced by only 52 people at a time. For this reason Soundstreams will present it at The Theatre Centre at 1115 Queen Street West, in a configuration never before used there. In order to maximize the closeness of the audience to the performers the playing area consists of four squares around a central hub, with the audience, seated in twos, forming the dividing lines between the squares. In the midst of an overabundance of recorded music, Lang is composing various works that can only be heard live. As he has written, “With the whisper opera I had another of these ideas – what if a piece were so quiet and so intimate and so personal to the performers that you needed to be right next to them or you would hear almost nothing? A piece like this would have to be experienced live. In honour of this, the score to the whisper opera states clearly that it can never be recorded, or filmed, or amplified. The only way this piece can be received is if you are there, listening very very closely.” Listening very closely is, of course, something we all should do at any performance, but at the whisper opera, Lang makes this a virtue one hopes we carry over into other experiences of music. Christopher Hoile is a Toronto-based writer on opera and theatre. He can be contacted at ARMEN ELLIOT 20 | February 1 - March 7, 2015

Beat by Beat | Art of Song Upside, Downside HANS DE GROOT Off Centre Music Salon 2014 2015 ALL FOLKED UP FEBRUARY 12, 2015 AT 7 PM THE MUSIC GALLERY, 197 JOHN ST ABASTA FOR SONY CLASSICAL Christian Gerhaher (left) and Gerold Huber Even the most cursory look at the listings will show that the upside of living in Toronto is the many concerts that take place here every day. That, of course, is a good thing but the downside is that it is impossible to go to all of them. In December I wrote about the tenor Sean Clark and had every intention of catching him in one of his performances with the Pax Christi Chorale, but, alas, it was not to be. On the Saturday I went to hear Adi Braun sing Kurt Weill; on the Sunday afternoon I heard Daniel Cabena’s recital. While I am glad that I went to these, I regret that I didn’t hear Clark. Much the same thing happened on January 9, when I heard a lovely recital by Anne Sofie von Otter and Angela Hewitt, but this also meant that I could not go the Bach concert at Metropolitan United which featured all six of the Bach solo violin sonatas, or to the plainchants and motets which the Schola Magdalena performed at St. Mary Magdalene. However, this is nothing compared with the choice I have to make for the afternoon of Sunday February 1, when there are four concerts I would like to go to: the recital by Melanie Conly at the Heliconian Hall, which features one of my all-time favourites, Schubert’s The Shepherd on the Rock, with its lovely clarinet obbligato (the concert also includes works by Brott, Purcell and Berlioz); Bach’s second cello suite played by Rachel Mercer at Seicho-No-le Toronto; the VOICEBOX performance of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene at the St. Lawrence Centre with Allison Angelo and Jennifer Taverner, sopranos, and Colin Ainsworth, tenor; and the concert at Mazzoleni Concert Hall given by the Amici Chamber Ensemble and the New Orford String Quartet, which features, among other works, Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet No such problems will interfere with my going to hear the baritone Christian Gerhaher and the pianist Gerold Huber in their performance of Schubert’s Winterreise on February 26 at Koerner Hall. Schubert wrote this work for a tenor voice but it has been successfully performed by baritones, bass-baritones, basses, even sopranos and mezzos. The baritone with whom the work is especially associated is Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Views about his singing vary. He always made sure that every detail registered and some listeners find that fussy. Others (and I include myself) feel that, in the words of Keats, he loaded every rift with ore. It will be interesting to hear how Gerhaher’s performance compares. I am also looking forward to the performance by Monica Whicher, soprano, and Russell Braun, baritone, with the pianists Carolyn Maule and Stephen Philcox, of Hugo Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch at Walter Hall, February 9. The Faculty of Music in the University of Toronto will present a free workshop for singers, composers and librettists. It will feature the soprano Barbara Hannigan, the composer Hans Abrahamsen (who is the Michael and Sonja Koerner Distinguished Visitor in Composition) dérangé - which derives from the French word for "taken out of line," but is also associated with insanity! - is a two-concert pilot project at the intersection of Canadian Contemporary, Classical, Jazz and Folk Music celebrating a more "out of line," interdisciplinary and creative approach to performing this repertoire. ese concerts are curated by soprano Ilana Zarankin and drummer Nico Dann. www.offcentremusic/derange GENERAL ADMISSION (includes one pre-concert refreshment) STUDENTS & ARTS WORKERS march 1, 2015 2 PM Glenn Gould Studio 250 Front St. West THERE WILL BE AN INFORMAL PRE-CONCERT RECEPTION BEGINNING AT 6:30 PM IN THE LOBBY. & ON OUR MAINSTAGE On Love & Other Difficulties This concert is co-sponsored by KATALIN SCHAFER and NINA & JOHN VARGA for Tickets and Information, please call 416.466.1870 or visit w w w. o f f c e n t r e m u s i c . c o m February 1 - March 7, 2015 | 21

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