Moving into January

helmetI wrote “2015” on a cheque today.  Scary.  Anyway, what’s on in Toronto as the new year dawns?  Quite a lot as it happens.  Here are my picks.

December 9th sees Anne-Sofie von Otter in recital at Koerner hall.  She’s not doing opera anymore and who knows how many more chances there will be to see her in Toronto?

The Talisker Players have an Irving Berlin themed show on Sunday 11th (3.30pm) and Tuesday 13th (8pm) at Trinity St. Paul’s.  The featured singers are Whitney O’Hearn and Budd Roach.  I don’t think I’ve heard either of them before.

The 14th sees the COC 2015/16 season announcement gala do at the Four Seasons Centre.  This is open to subscribers and was a lot of fun last year.  I’ll be posting the results of research and speculation by myself and my extensive network of spies sometime soon.

The 22nd is a busy day with the first free vocal concert of the year at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at noon.  It’s titled Songs of Love and War and will feature members of the COC Ensemble Studio in a program of music commemorating both world wars and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Later, at 8pm, the TSO are doing the Mozart Mass in C minor plus extracts from a couple of the early operas.  The soloists are Hélène Guilmette, Julie Boulianne, John Tessier, Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure and Gordon Bintner,

The 27th features another must see noon time freebie in the RBA.  It’s the unveiling of the Canadian Art Song Projects latest commission.  Mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy and pianist Adam Sherkin presents will present the world premiere of Enchantments of Gwendolyn, a new song cycle by Marjan Mozetich based on texts by Gwendolyn MacEwen.  The program also includes sopranos Joni Henson and Nathalie Paulin.  Henson will sing Godfrey Ridout’s Cantiones Mysticae (based on the poetry of John Donne), while Paulin will perform André Prévost’s Musiques PeintesTu te souviensSoleils d’été (based on poems by Gatien Lapointe) and Clermont Pépin’s Cycle-Éluard. Both singers will be accompanied by pianist Robert Kortgaard.

On the evening of the 29th Tapestry are celebrating their 35th anniversary with a party at the Drake.  It’s free but ticketed.  Check the Tapestry website for details.

January also sees the openings of both the COC’s winter offerings.  On the 24th at 4.30pm they will open Mozart’s Don Giovanni in the Dmitri Tcherniakov production seen in Aix and elsewhere.  My review of the DVD recording is here.  The cast for Toronto is drastically different from that run with only Kyle Ketelsen as Leporello featuring in Toronto.  The Don himself will be Russell Braun who has already featured in this production in Madrid.  The other casting of local interest is Jane Archibald as Donna Anna, Michael Schade as Don Ottavio and Ensemble Studio graduate Sasha Djihanian as Zerlina.  This will be an interesting rest of whether Toronto audiences are getting sophisticated enough to appreciate this kind of production.  The COC is maybe hedging its bets here.  There are ten performances where one might expect more for a warhorse like Don Giovanni and, very oddly for a Mozart piece, it’s not being used for the annual Ensemble production.  We’ll have to wait for The Barber of Seville in the spring for that!

Also opening is the revival of Atom Egoyan’s production of Wagner’s Die Walküre.  The main interest here will be the ladies with Christine Goerke’s Brünnhilde and Heidi Melton’s Sieglinde much anticipated.  The admirable Johan Reuter sings Wotan and Clifton Forbis is a fairly late replacement for the originally scheduled Ben Heppner as Siegmund.  Johannes Debus conducts which is quite exciting after his excellent Tristan und Isolde. This one opens on the 31st at 7pm and there are seven performances.

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