October is the month things usually really get going again in Toronto and this year is no exception. The calendar for the first third of the month is very busy. Highlights include three free concerts in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, the opening of two productions at the Canadian Opera Company and Nuit Blanche events at the Canadian Music Centre and the UoT Music Department.
The first concert is on October 2nd, Brush Up on your Shakespeare. In celebration of the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth, the University of Toronto’s Opera Division presents arias and ensembles from operatic works based on the plays. On October 7th Colin Ainsworth, tenor and Stephen Ralls, piano will perform A Play of Passion; three song cycles by Derek Holman. Holman: The Death of Orpheus, A Lasting Spring and A Play of Passion. This markls another step in the revived interest in Canadian art song apparent since Lawrence Wiliford and Steven Philcox launched the Canadian Art Song Project. Finally, on October 9th, two of the newest members of the COC Ensemble Studio, tenor Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure and bass–baritone Iain MacNeil, will perform two settings of poems by A.E. Housman: Ivor Gurney’s Ludlow and Teme and George Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad. This concert is part of A Century of Change: Commemorating the World Wars and the Fall of the Berlin Wall. All three concerts are at noon and are free.
At the Canadian Opera Company the new season kicks off on Friday October 3rd with Robert Carsen’s much travelled production of Verdi’s Falstaff. The cast incudes Gerald finley in the title role, making jis COC debut. Other cast members include Lauren Segal, Simone Osborne, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Frédéric Antoun and Russell Braun. Johannes Debus conducts. The other fall production is a revival of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly which kicks off on October 10th. There are two casts. The first features Patricia Racette, Stefano Secco and Dwayne Croft while the second is led by Kelly Kaduce, Andrea Carè and Greg Dahl. Liz DeShong sings Suzuki with both casts and Patrick Lange conducts. The real keeners can catch both casts on the 10th and 11th! Both shows start at 7.30pm and are playing at the Four Seasons Centre.
Nuit Blanche (October 4th) features a couple of interesting shows. Students from the Voice Studies and Collaborative Piano Studies programs at UoT will present Songs of the Night described as “contemporary interaction of poetic and musical language in the classical art song genre”. It’s in the main lobby of the Edward Johnson Building, 80 Queen’s Park. Meanwhile at the Canadian Music Centre, 20 St. Joseph Street, you can catch Global Motives; showcasing how global traditions can, and have been, integrated into Canadian new music. Suba Sankaran, voice; Parmela Attariwala, violin; TorQ, percussion quartet; Deb Sinha, percussion; Ernie Tollar, Sax/Bansuri; Ed Hanley, tabla; Jordan O’Connor, bass; Germaine Liu, percussion; Dinuk Wijeratne, piano; and Laura Silberberg, DJ will all perform. Both shows run throughout the night and are free.