Opera Atelier 2018/19 season

20080424Opera Atelier_Idomeneo_Dress Rehearsal

Measha Brueggergosman.
Photo by Bruce Zinger.

Opera Atelier have announced their 2018/19 season.  As usual, there are two shows.  In the Fall there is a double bill of Charpentier’s Actéon paired with Rameau’s Pygmalion (Oct. 25 – Nov. 3, 2018).  Colin Ainsworth, who has also been named as OA’s first “artist in residence”, features in both title roles with Mireille Asselin as Diana and Amour and Allyson McHardy as Juno and Céphise.  The supporting cast includes Jesse Blumberg, Christopher Enns, Meghan Lindsay, Cynthia Smithers and Anna Sharpe. Pygmalion will be prefaced by Opera Atelier’s first Canadian commission for solo baroque violin and contemporary dancing, entitled Inception.  It will be performed by composer/violinist Edwin Huizinga and choreographer/Artist of Atelier Ballet, Tyler Gledhill. Following its Toronto dates, the show will tour to the Royal Opera House in Versailles.

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Opera bunny

What’s On Stage is a UK on-line magazine covering the theatre scene in the UK.  They have an annual reader poll for “best of” in various categories in opera.  One such is “Breakthrough Artist in UK Opera” which this year was won by Ottawa native and COC Ensemble Studio graduate Wallis Giunta for a series of roles with Opera North (who picked up a bucketload of awards) including Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti and L’enfant in L’enfant et les sortilèges.  She’s not just ridiculously photogenic!  I’m slightly shocked to realise it’s almost two years since I interviewed Wally by Skype from her home base in Leipzig but so it is.  The interview write up is here.

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Winner for “Outstanding Achievement in an Operatic Role” deservedly went to Allan Clayton for his outstanding work creating the title role in Brett Dean’s Hamlet at Glyndebourne.

Photo credit: Tim Dunk

Seven Sins at the Symphony

Last night’s Decades series concert featured three works from the 1930s plus a sesqui.  The sesqui, Andrew Balfour’s Kiwetin-acahkos; Fanfare for the Peoples of the North was definitely one of the more interesting of these short pieces.  There were elements of minimalism combined with a nod to Cree/Métis fiddle music.  Quite complex and enjoyable.  It was followed by Barber’s rather bleak Adagio for Strings and the Bartók Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta.  It’s familiar enough fare and was well played by the orchestra under Peter Oundjian.  I particularly enjoyed some of the weird percussion/celesta effects in the third movement of the Bartók.  But really I was there for the second half of the program.

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RCM 2017/18

The Royal Conservatory of Music announced their 2017/18 concert season last night.  There are over 100 concerts spread across just about every genre.  I think the following are likely of most interest to Operaramblings readers.

  • November 10th 8pm Koerner Hall – Barbara Hannigan with Reinbert de Leeuw in all Second Vienna School concert.  The pick of the season for me.
  • February 14th 8pm Koerner Hall – Ian Bostridge with Julian Drake in an all Schubert program.
  • April 22nd 3pm Koerner Hall – Gerald Finley with Julius Drake  with a mix of art song and British and American folksong.
  • April 6th 2018 8pm Koerner Hall – Bernstein@100; a celebration of Lenny with the ARC Ensemble, Sebastian Knauer and the lovely Wallis Giunta.

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Royal Conservatory 2017/18 Koerner Hall season

wallis-giunta-photo-dario-acostaThe Royal Conservatory has just announced its Koerner Hall line up for the 2017/18 season.  There are 23 classical and 6 jazz concerts.  This doesn’t include the Glenn Gould School or concerts in the RCM’s other halls.  Highlights from a vocal point of view are as follows:

November 10th 2017 at 8pm:  Barbara Hannigan with Reinbert de Leeuw in a mainly Second Vienna School programme.  Not to be missed if that’s your thing and it’s certainly mine.

February 14th 2018 at 8pm:  Ian Bostridge with Julius Drake in an all Schubert programme.

April 6th 2018 at 8pm:  Bernstein@100; a tribute to Lenny featuring, among others, Wallis Giunta.

April 22nd 2018 at 3pm:  Gerald Finley with Julius Drake in a varied program of art and folk songs.

April 27th 2018 at 8pm:  The Amici Ensemble with Isabel Bayrakdarian and the winners of the GGS chamber music competition.  The vocal part of the programme is all Bernstein.

May 10th 2018 at 8pm:  Not typical Opera Ramblings fare but worth a mention; Jodi Sarvall, Hespèrion XXI and Galician pipes specialist Carlos Núñez in a program of pipe music from around the western fringes of Europe.

The PDF with the full line up is here

Best of 2016

anthraxIt’s that time of year when it’s traditional to do best of the year lists.  Fortunately this is all about music because in most other respects 2016 was a bit of a horror show.  So here goes.  As far as opera proper was concerned it was a pretty good year.  There were no real howlers in the COC’s season.  It was solid and, at its best, better than that,  For me, Ariodante was the standout; an intelligent, thought provoking production backed up by extremely good acting and singing.  I was really expecting to like the Claus Guth Marriage of Figaro more than I did.  I enjoyed it but I was a bit perplexed by the lightening up that had taken place since Salzburg in 2006.  Opera Atelier had their best show in quite a while with Lucio Silla but even Wallis Giunta couldn’t save a misconceived Dido and Aeneas.

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A funny thing happened on the way to Carthage

Opera Atelier’s  production of (mostly) Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas opened last night at the Elgin.  I say “(mostly) Purcell” because director Marshall Pynkoski had decided to add a Prologue.  As he explained in his introductory remarks nobody reads Virgil’s Aeneid anymore so it was necessary to play out the back story in a prologue.  I find this pretty patronising.  It’s not a particularly convoluted story and I would have thought that the gist of the story is well enough known to most opera goers and, you know, some of us have read the Aeneid.  Besides, even without detailed knowledge of the back story there’s nothing remotely hard to understand.  FWIW the dumbing down carried over into the surtitles with, for example, “Anchises” rendered as “his father”.  Anyway we got a prologue spoken by Irene Poole while the orchestra played other Purcell airs followed by a bit of extraneous ballet and poor Chris Enns (Aeneas) and Wallis Giunta (Dido) running around making the stock baroque “woe is me” gesture.  I guess it made the piece (plus Marshall’s speech) long enough to justify an intermission, which was taken after what is usually Act 2 Scene 1, but the prologue was neither necessary nor welcome and I think the ensuing intermission was an unnecessary break in the flow of the action.

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