The week in prospect and other news

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There’s a lot on today.  Handel’s Ariodante opens at the COC at 2.30pm.  There’s also a concert featuring Russell Braun with the Amici Ensemble at 3pm in the Mazzoleni Concert Hall at the Conservatory.  The Elmer Iseler Singers and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir also have concerts.  Thursday sees the opening of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at Opera Atelier with Wallis Giunta and Chris Enns as the lovers which promises both eye and ear candy.  That’s at the Elgin at 7.30pm.  Then on Saturday there’s Singing Stars of Tomorrow, the result of a Sondra Radvanovsky intensive, at the Alliance Française at 7.30 pm.  The line up is Valerie Belanger,soprano; Stephanie De Ciantis, soprano; Natalya Gennadi, soprano; Beth Hagerman, soprano; Jessica Scarlato, soprano; Sara Schabas, soprano; Caitlin Wood, soprano; Danielle MacMillan, mezzo-soprano; Marjorie Maltais, mezzo-soprano; Asitha Tennekoon, tenor.  Quite a mix, from people I’ve never heard of to one who has already made her COC debut.

In other news, the COC and Show One Productions have announced a gala concert to take place at the Four Seasons Centre on April 25th next year.  It’s billed (modestly) as Trio Magnifico: The Ultimate Opera Gala and the big draw is the Canadian debut of Anna Netrebko.  She will appear with  her husband tenor Yusif Eyazov and baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky.  They will be accompanied by the COC Orchestra conducted by Jader Bignamini.  Given that Dima alone turned Koerner Hall into a frenzy of screaming Russian grannies, this could get interesting.

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Transfigured: Transcribed

Yesterday’s Amici Ensemble concert featured four works transcribed for different combinations of instruments than the composer originally intended.  First up was Berg’s Adagio for violin, clarinet and piano.  This is from the Kammerkonzert originally scored for violin, piano and thirteen assorted wind instruments.  Unsurprisingly it doesn’t get played often in that arrangement.  It’s pretty typical second Vienna school; twelve tone but quite accessible and very pleasant to listen to.  It was expertly played by Serouj Kradjian (piano), David Hetherington (cello) and Joaquin Valdepeñas (clarinet).

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Upcoming events

amiciNext Sunday the Amici Ensemble have an interesting looking concert of works all transcribed for forces not originally intended by the composer.  It’s called, appropriately enough, Transfigured Transcribed.  The highlight for me is Verklärte Nacht transcribed for piano trio but there’s also some Berg, some Brahms and some Bartok.  The concert is at 3pm at Mazzoleni Hall.  More details and tickets.

This weekend also sees the opening of Opera Atelier’s Abduction from the Seraglio and Opera 5’s Poe themed show Requiescat in Pace.  If that wasn’t enough, this afternoon the MetHD broadcast is Shostakovich’s The Nose in William Kentridge’s well reviewed production.  It’s surely the highlight of this season’s line up and the only one I will be bothering with.

Amici Ensemble – Season close and new season announcement

Yesterday I attended the final concert of the 2011/12 season of the Amici Ensemble at the Glenn Gould Studio courtesy of Executive Director Lizzie Bowman.

It was my first time at the Glenn Gould and I was impressed by the space.  It’s pretty much ideal for chamber music.  They also have Glenn Gould’s childhood piano on display which is another addition to Toronto’s collection of secular relics.  There is a book or thesis at least in that topic.

The concert was a varied mix of pieces from the first third of the 20th century.  That’s pretty much a sweet spot for me as it’s pretty much where I discovered classical music.  My first classical LP purchase was of the Janáček string quartets.  Some of the music I was very familiar with.  Some was quite unknown to me.  Also, the ensemble was different for each piece.  It made for an interesting afternoon.  Continue reading

Spring in Toronto

It’s Spring in Toronto. The Canadian Opera Company has three productions in rehearsal and load ins and set building have started once more at the Four Seasons Centre. Here’s my take on what’s coming up.

Offenbach – Tales of Hoffmann April 10th to May 14th

Photo Credit: Kurt Van der Elst © 2000

This is a house debut for British director Lee Blakeley who brings his production previously seen at Vlaamse Opera.  The production looks on the face of it fairly conventional but word from the rehearsal studio is that it’s fairly “out there”.  The casting is a typical mix of “A list” talent, local favourites and Ensemble Studio members.  Probably the biggest draw is local boy John Relyea who is playing the four villains.  American tenor Russell Thomas sings the title role.  The four main female roles will be sung by Andriana Chuchman, Erin Wall, Keri Alkema and Lauren Segal; all familiar faces to Toronto audiences.  Johannes Debus conducts. More information.

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