La Cecchina

Niccolò Piccinni’s La Cecchina or La buona figliuola is an opera buffa in two acts written for the Teatro delle Dame in Rome where it premiered in 1760.  The libretto is by Carlo Goldini and, while said to have been inspired by Richardson’s Pamela, is actually a fairly straightforward masters and servants story of a similar nature to Pergolesi’s La serva padrona or even Mozart’s La finta giardinera; all, of course, firmly rooted in the conventions of the commedia dell’arte.  Being written for Rome it was, originally, played by an all male cast.  Last night at Koerner Hall the Glenn Gould School Opera presented it with female singers in the high roles.

Photo: Nicola Betts

Kendra Dyck as Sandrina and Asitha Tennekoon as the Marchese

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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

Messiah of clarity

Sometimes it takes some time away from home to be able to see things clearly again.  That’s rather how I felt about last night’s Messiah performed by Tafelmusik at Koerner Hall.  In the last few years I’ve seen choreographed and fully staged versions, the Andrew Davis version with sleigh bells and whoopee cushions and Soundstreams eclectic Electric Messiah, all of which helped bring a conventional small scale performance with period instruments into focus.

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Deb Voigt in recital

Deborah Voigt appeared with Brian Zeger at Koerner Hall last night.  I guess I was expecting something rather more ebullient from Ms. Voigt but what we got was a perfectly decent, slightly low key, recital with a heavy emphasis on American repertoire and very little banter, though she did unwind a bit toward the end of the program.

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Deb Voigt and Brian Zeger at Carnegie Hall 2007

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A flautist walks into a bar

magic-flutes_featured3Last night’s Soundstreams Koerner Hall presentation; Magic Flutes was an interesting experience.  Aside from interesting (mostly) contemporary flute pieces it was very much an experiment in different ways of staging a concert.  I’m all for breaking down the conventions of Mahlerian solemnity and I think experimentation is great.  It’s in the nature of taking risks though that some things don’t quite work.

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Almost the Last Night of the Proms

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Yes, those flags are stuck to my head

Last night’s Toronto Summer Music Festival concert, continuing the the me of “London Calling” was titled (Almost) the Last Night of the Proms and was a sort of recreation of that weird fusion of music and retro imperialism that hits the Albert Hall once per year.  I went because I was curious.  Toronto is no longer terribly British and it’s also notoriously buttoned down.  Koerner Hall is a 1200 seat concert hall with no promenade space.  The concert wasn’t the celebratory conclusion of eight weeks of promenading.  Could it remotely match the atmosphere of the Last Night and, if not, would there be musical merit enough to make it worthwhile?  The answer, sadly, is not really though some people did try.

 

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Jamie Barton at Koerner Hall

Barton-19American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, 2013 winner of Cardiff Singer of the Year, sang at Koerner Hall last night with veteran Bradley Moore at the piano.  Her first set; Joaquin Turina’s Homenaje a Lope de Vega gave us a pretty good idea of the basic value proposition.  She has a fantastic instrument.  There is power to burn, a pleasing dark tone, accuracy and musicianship.  She never sounded remotely strained even while pushing out a very impressive sound.  The rest of her first half programme; Chausson’s Three Melodies and four of Schubert’s Goethe settings showed that there was more than just a big accurate voice.  Basically, it’s all there.  She can vary colours and scale vibrato up and down.  There’s some agility.  She can float quiet high notes and she can tell a story.  Her diction was clear in all three languages.  I would say at this point the only question mark I had was around her ability to engage the audience.  If I were to judge by the very highest standards, and I’m think Bryn Terfel or Karita Mattila, there was something just the merest shade cold and technical.  The second half would see whether she could, as it were , lighten up a bit.

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