There’s quite a lot happening before the COC season kicks off again with the opening of Handel’s Hercules on April 5th. Here are some of the highlights including several rarities.
On March 22nd at 7:30pm and 23rd at 3pm the Cantemus Singers are putting on a concert performance of Purcell’s The Fairie Queene at the Church of the Holy Trinity. The cast includes Iris Krizmanic, soprano (Juno); Maria Soulis, soprano (Mopsa); and Michael Pius Taylor, tenor (Phoebus). Tickets are $20; $15(sr/st); $10(child).
Berlioz’ Les Troyens is one of those pieces that really deserves the descriptor “sprawling epic” and, if anyone can make an epic sprawl it’s David McVicar. This production, recorded at the Royal Opera House in 2012, is typical of McVicar’s more recent work. It’s visually rather splendid and the action is well orchestrated but it’s short on ideas and long on McVicar visual cliches; acrobats, gore and urchins (but mercifully no animals). I don’t want to be too hard on McVicar. This piece is based on the sort of “Ancient History” one used to learn at prep school (British usage) and McVicar pretty much runs with that making no attempt to find deeper meaning, despite superficially translating at least the first two acts to the time of first performance; the era of European colonialism.
The Ash Roses CD that I referred to a few days ago was officially launched at the Canadian Music Centre last night. Lawrence Wiliford, Mireille Asselin, Sanya Eng and Liz Upchurch performed all the music on the album in the presence of the composer and his wife, assorted Toronto music glitterati and even more assorted others, like me. It’s a very intimate setting and well suited for small scale art song recitals; especially when the complimentary wine and beer (Black Oak Chocolate Cherry Stout – recommended) is rather good.
There’s a Pasolini retrospective on at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Next Thursday at 6.30pm they are showing his Medea which features one Maria Callas in her only non singing role. Whether that’s a good thing or not probably divides opera lovers but there you go.
Carlos Kleiber didn’t record much despite enjoying something of a cult following as a conductor. In 1994, shortly before his death, he conducted four performances of Der Rosenkavalier at the Wiener Staatsoper; the first of which was recorded. It’s clearly Kleiber’s night. His appearances at the start of each act are greeted with cheers and wild applause. One can only guess at the reception he got afterwards because the curtain calls don’t make it onto the recording. And, yes, it is a masterly conducting performance with fine support for the singers, beautifully shaped lines and an infectious sense of fun.
The Talisker Players are presenting a show called present Creature to Creature on March 16 and 18 at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre. It’s inspired by mediaeval bestiaries and takes on human foibles through the lens of animal behaviour. It had better be good because I can scratch quite nastily. The Taliskers will be joined by mezzo soprano Norine Burgess, baritone Geoffrey Sirett (more impressive every time I see him), and theatre artist Ross Manson.