Anna Bolena at the COC

Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, in a production by Stephen Lawless, opened last night at the COC.  Bel canto fans, canary fanciers and, just maybe, the rest of us should rush and see it.  The singing is extraordinary.  The cast is led by Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role and she gives, pretty much, a masterclass in bel canto technique.  The control is extraordinary with gleaming top notes, exquisitely floated pianissimo, genuine trills and real emotion.  Only a slight raspiness occasionally evident in the recits even hinted that this was a singer who was too sick to perform only a few days ago.  Where to go next among some very fine performances?  Bruce Sledge as Percy I think.  This was thrilling tenor singing with passion, ringing high notes and wonderful musicality.

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The Nightingale sang

The COC’s revival of Robert Lepage’s 2009 production of Stravinsky’s The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, revived by Marilyn Gronsdalis a delightful mix of witty and clever stagecraft coupled with some fine music making.  It’s very much a work of two contrasting halves.  The first is a carefully constructed program of shorter Stravinsky vocal and instrumental works; all from the period 1911-1919 and all with a sound world reminiscent of The Firebird or Petrouchka rather than The Rite of Spring or the Dumbarton Oaks Concerto.  The full line up was:

  • Ragtime
  • Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet No.1
  • Pribaoutki
  • Berceuses du chat
  • Two Poems of Konstantin Balmont
  • Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet No.2
  • Four Russian Peasant Songs
  • Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet No.3
  • The Fox

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You’re welcome, Rossini

Today’s Mazzoleni Songmasters concert featured Lucia Cesaroni and Alysson McHardy with Rachel Andrist at the piano and Iain Scott narrating in a program that wasn’t, as expected, all Rossini.  Rather it was music written by and for six of the women in Rossini’s life in a program inspired by Patricia Morehead.  So what we got was plenty of Rossini, some Bellini, some Clara Schumann and music composed by the ladies themselves.  I’m moderately familiar with the music of Pauline Viardot (younger sister of  Maria Malibran) but I had never heard anything composed by Malibran, Isabella Colbran,  Pauline Sabatier, Giuditta Pasta or Adelina Patti.  As it turns out all were perfectly competent song composers and it was good to hear some rather rare material.

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Out like a lamb?

yourewelcome365pxNot much sign of spring as we move into the second half of the month but there are some things musical to enjoy while we await the return of the sun.  On March 18th at 2pm in Mazzoleni Hall there is You’re Welcome Rossini with the glamorous duo of Allyson McHardy and, the not seen often enough in Toronto, Lucia Cesaroni.  This one is officially sold out but there may be rushes.  Ten bucks says they do the Cat duet.
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Opera Atelier 2018/19 season

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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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Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation

Last night’s TSO program started off with a sort of Remembrance Day pot pourri; pipes, bugles, a bit of poetry, an excerpt of Vaughan Williams in between and finally a rather beautiful account of The Lark Ascending with Jonathan Crow playing the solo from high up in the Gallery.  Once upon a time the TSO would do Remembrance Day by performing an appropriate work or works, Britten’s War Requiem for example.  I think that might actually be a more effective way of remembering.

Jonathan Crow_The Lark Ascending (@Jag Gundu)

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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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