A Tribute to Maureen Forrester

Last night’s TSO concert was billed as a Tribute to Maureen Forrester with Ben Heppner MCing.  Inevitably the main even was Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde but first there was a sesquie and the premiere of a new piece; L’Aube, for mezzo and orchestra by Howard Shore (he of Lord of the Rings etc).  This was a setting of five poems by Elizabeth Cotnoir. It was retro, lush, tonal and, in a sense, well crafted but with very little variation between the movements, all of which were very slow.  Susan Platts rich mezzo added to the rather soporific effect. Call me an unreformed modernist if you like but I’m really not sure what a piece like this adds to the symphonic repertoire.

Susan Platts, Peter Oundjian (@Jag Gundu)

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Coming right up

Simone-Osborne-Gordon-Bintner-3And in the week ahead…

There are still tickets available for Erin Wall and Asitha Tennekoon at Mazzoleni on Sunday.

On Monday evening at 7.30pm in Walter Hall veteran Canadian mezzo Judith Forst is giving a free master class.

Thursday is the big day.  At lunchtime in the RBA you can catch Simone Osborne and Gordon Bintner, currently headlining in L’elisir d’amore on the COC main stage, accompanied by Liz Upchurch (free of course).  Later, at 8pm there’s A Tribute to Maureen Forrester at the Symphony.  That program features, inter alia, Michael Schade and Susan Platts in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde.  The program will be repeated on Friday at 7.30pm.  Last I checked there were still $25 tickets available.

Photo courtesy of the lady herself.

 

 

Moors and Christians

Schubert could write great melodies and he had a real affinity for the voice so one might expect him to have been successful when he turned his hand to opera.  He wasn’t with Fierrabras which wasn’t performed until decades after his death and has been revived seldom since, most recently at Salzburg in 2014 where it was recorded. It’s easy to see why.  The libretto is awful and even if the music were really amazing, which it isn’t but more of that later, I doubt it would have made much impact.

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And now, the TSO

tso-music-director-peter-oundjian-photo-credit-sian-richardsHot on the heels of the RCM, the Toronto Symphony has announced its 2017/18 season, whih will be Peter Oundjian’s last as Music Director.  There’s lots of sesquicentennial stuff of course but here’s a summary of the interesting vocal stuff (rock and roll and other children’s music omitted).

September 27,28 and 30, 2017: Brahm’s German Requiem with Erin Wall and Russell Braun.

October 19 and 20, 2017: Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Susan Platts and Michael Schade.  This is billed as a Maureen Forrester commemoration.

November 9 and 11, 2017: Jeffrey Ryan’s Afghanistan:Requiem for a Generation with Measha Brueggergosman, Alysson McHardy, Colin Ainsworth and Brett Polegato.

December 16, 19, 20, 22 and 23, 2017: Handel’s Messiah with Karina Gauvin, Kristina Szabó, Frédéric Antoun and Joshua Hopkins.

April 26 and 28, 2018: A concert performance of Bernstein’s Candide with Tracy Dahl, Judith Forst, Nicholas Phan and Richard Suart.

June 2 and 3, 2018: A concert called Water Music with Leslie Ann Bradley singing Dvorak, Schubert and Mozart.

June 28 and 29, 2018:  Peter Oundjian signs off with a Beethoven 9.  Soloists tba.

Full details here.

 

Why productions succeed in one place but not another?

12-13-02-b-MC-D-3024In an age of co-productions many opera productions are seen in multiple houses.  Some of them we get to see in multiple guises.  For example I’ve seen Tcherniakov’s Don Giovanni on DVD and will be seeing it live later this season in Toronto.  Spmething that’s been fermenting in my brain for a while now is why the same production can get a drastically different reception in different places.  The piece that first made me think about this was Chris Alden’s Die Fledermaus.  This was generally well received in Toronto (more perhaps by my friends and acquaintances than the print media but that’s par for the course) but universally panned in London when it played at ENO.  Bryan’s interesting comments about the Carsen Falstaff kicked off the train of thought again and made me want to put some tentative thoughts into writing.

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The COC’s 2014/15 season announced

Russell Braun as Don Giovanni - Photo Credit Javier del Real

Russell Braun as Don Giovanni – Photo Credit Javier del Real

Yesterday evening saw the announcement of the line up for the COC’s 2014/15 season.  The usual rather prosaic press conference was replaced with a glitzy reception and main stage show featuring Brent Bambury of the COC interviewing Alexander Neef, Johannes Debus and others plus piano accompanied performances by Simone Osborne, Russel Braun, Robert Gleadow, Charlotte Burrage and Aviva Fortunata.

There were few surprises, in itself no surprise given the number of official and unofficial “leaks” this time around.  There are three productions new to Toronto, all COC copros, and three revivals so it’s an “all COC” season with no rentals or other imports.  Here’s what’s coming up:

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Renée and her frocks

John Cox’s production of Massenet’s Thaïs at the Metropolitan Opera is probably most remembered for the rather extraordinary collection of Christian Lacroix frocks that Met perennial Renée Fleming gets to wear.  It’s rather more than that.  In fact it’s a pretty good example of what the Met does best.  It’s sumptuous and spectacular and has a pretty much ideal cast which, together, go a long way toward making this curious piece rather enjoyable.

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