Soile Isokoski in recital

Last night, at Walter Hall, Finnish soprano Soile Isokoski and pianist Martin Katz gave a recital as part of the Toronto Summer Music Festival.  The programme of Schumann, Wolf, Strauss and Sibelius was an object lesson in restraint and elegance.  There were no histrionics or gimmicks, just very fine, subtly expressive singing and brilliantly supportive pianism.


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Need some opera for Canada Day?

Well maybe not quite opera but opera related anyway.  Bicycle Opera have a fundraiser karaoke session at the Burdock brewpub (Bloor and Dufferin) from 5pm to 7pm which leaves lots of time for whatever else you have planned that night.  Here’s what’s on offer:

  • Catch a teaser of Sweat – get a sneak peak of this a cappella opera that’s touring Ontario in July and August
  • Enjoy a beer
  • Pedal a bicycle power generator hooked up to a karaoke machine!
  • Try a tune or two while pedalling to power your mic.
  • Enjoy opera singer friends of Bicycle Opera as they serenade you with their favourite guilty pleasures!
  • Make Geoff Sirett bike and sing at the same time!

Tickets are $25 in advance ($23 plus $2 online fee) and $30 at the door.
Tickets include a delicious Burdock craft beer!

Tickets available at:


Patchy Andrea Chénier

What’s become of David McVicar?  His 2015 production of Giodarno’s Andrea Chénier for the Royal Opera House seems typical of his recent work.  It looks expensive.  It features a starry cast.  He flirts with dramatic risk but in the last analysis it comes off as a bit tame and even sloppy.  Basically when the principals are at the centre of the drama it’s compelling stuff but when they are not it’s not and there are curious inconsistencies.


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Not dead yet…

kitty-resp-maskSorry if, after the preview listing, anyone was expecting a review of Karina Gauvin and Tafelmusik last night.  I was scheduled to go but, for only the second time ever, I had to bail.  I have a cough that should not be inflicted on any concert venue or audience.  If things improve in the next 48 hours I’ll try and catch one of the later shows.

ETA: Hacking cough developed into flu like symptoms through Friday and Saturday.  On the mend today I think but still not safe to be let loose in a concert hall.

2015 in review

It’s that time of year when one looks back at the previous twelve months and reflects. It’s also customary to produce “best of” lists and the like. So here goes.

In terms of fully staged, large-scale opera productions it wasn’t an especially eventful year. The COC staged six solid, enjoyable productions but nothing that would hit my list of all time favourites. There was open criticism of Tcherniakov’s Don Giovanni from the usual suspects and more behind the scenes muttering about Pyramus and Thisbe but I thought both shows were examples of things that needed to happen. We need more contemporary opera and we need bolder takes on established classics. I wrote at length on why I thought the Don Giovanni received such a high degree of scrutiny, often from people who had reviewed Opera Atelier’s Alcina the year before, apparently oblivious to the liberties that were taken there! If I had to pick a favourite from the COC’s line up it would likely be Robert Lepage’s production of Schoenberg’s Erwartung featuring a stellar one woman performance by Krisztina Szabó. Opera Atelier’s offerings were, frankly, so much like virtually every other Opera Atelier production since the Flood as to leave anyone trying to write about them pretty desperate. OA watching has become a bit like Kremlinology. The most minute things are blown up into issues for want of anything else to write about!


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Opera Canada Fall 2015

OCFall2015CoverThe Fall 2015 Opera Canada is out.  No performance reviews by me in this one but I do have a profile of countertenor Daniel Cabena and reviews of three CDs; Adrianne Pieczonka singing Wagner and Strauss, Bud Roach singing Italian renaissance songs accompanying himself on guitar and a rerelease of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Resurrection.  Lots of good stuff by other people too of course!