Thursday 23rd at 8pm, Karina Gauvin is performing with Tafelmusik at Koerner Hall in a concert called The Baroque Diva. Details are here. This will be repeated on Friday and Saturday evenings and on Sunday at 3.30pm. Sunday at 3.30pm Voicebox are presenting Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina. I’m not sure where it will fall on the semi-staged to concert spectrum but it’s definitely piano accompaniment (Narmina Afandiyeva) and the cast is headed up by Andrey Andreychik. This is a piece that played in full runs over three hours so it will be interesting to see what they choose to include, or not.
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.
As things will soon slow down for the holidays I am going to do one listings post from now through to the New Year. There are of course still the TSO and Tafelmusik Messiahs. There are also holiday concerts at Roy Thomson Hall. New Year’s Eve sees an opera pops concert conducted by Marco Guidarini while on New Year’s Day there’s a Vienna themed extravaganza with Matthias Fletzberger conducting.
It’s that time of year when one ponders the vexed question of how many Messiahs, and which ones, one is going to see this year. For Torontonians there seem to be four principal contenders; two fairly conventional and two less so. At the conventional end of things there’s the TSO of course. This year it’s back to the usual performing edition though fans of Sir Andrew’s “Big Fat Messiah” as heard last year can now acquire it on CD from the Chandos label. Baroque specialist Nicholas McGegan conducts so it’s probably as close to HIP as the TSO are ever going to get. Soloists are Yulia Van Doren, Abigail Levis, Isaiah Bell and Daniel Okulitch. I’m not familiar with either of the ladies but the guys are top notch. As ever the orchestra will be joined by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. There are five performances at Roy Thomson Hall on the 18th at 3pm and the 19th, 20th, 21st and 23rd at 8pm.
Opera Atelier’s production of Mozart’s Lucio Silla opened last night at the Elgin. This is, more or less, the production that played at the Salzburg Festival and, later, at La Scala to considerable critical acclaim. It’s not hard to see why. It’s much the best thing Opera Atelier has done in a while. It’s more restrained than recent shows and trimmed of excess the familiar approach looks quite fresh again.
Opera Atelier has announced its 2016/17 season. The fall production will be Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. It isn’t clear whether this is a new production or a revival. The company has done the piece before; at the MacMillan Theatre in 1989 and 1994, in 2005 at the Elgin and in sundry tour venues. It’s not paired with anything so it’s either a very short show or there is a lot of interpolated dance. Wallis Giunta and Chris Enns play the lovers with a supporting cast that includes Meghan Lindsay, Laura Pudwell, Ellen McAteer, Karine White and Cory Knight. Nice to see Karine getting a chance on a professional stage. There are six shows at the Elgin between October 20 and 29, 2016.
This was a vocal competition with a twist. The repertoire was all baroque and the prizes were the soloist spots in upcoming performances of Zelenka’s Missa Omnium Sanctorum. To some extent that dictated the format with three bass-baritones, three tenors and three altos (two mezzos and a countertenor) competing and a prize winner in each triad. Each singer had to offer the appropriate piece from the Zelenka Mass plus a piece of their choice by each of Bach and Handel. I did wonder whether I would get through an afternoon of twenty seven baroque vocal pieces but aided by free pizza and cookies I made it. At least, for once, I was at a singing competition where nobody would be singing Pierrot’s Tanzlied.