Effective the end of the, not yet announced, 2017/18 season Larry Beckwith will step down as Artistic Director of Toronto Masque Theatre and with his going the company will pack up its tents. It’s unfortunate because TMT filled an interesting niche but fifteen years of organising, directing, administering and fund raising (especially the last) is a pretty long innings. TMT has done a lot of innovative stuff over the years but I’ll remember them as a company that was not afraid to experiment with ideas and elements from outside the Western Classical tradition as exemplified by Alice Ping Yee Ho’s The Lesson of Da Ji and their upcoming show The Man Who Married Himself. Toronto, of all cities, needs to find ways to incorporate the different cultural and musical traditions we come from into new art. Larry and his collaborators did that.
Thursday seems to be the big day next week. Ileana Montalbetti and Rachel Andrist have a lunchtime recital in the RBA. There’s Strauss and Mozart and Beethoven and more. Ileana has been a really impressive Gutrune in Götterdämmerung so I’m excited to see her in recital. That evening there’s a choice of the annual COC Ensemble Studio performance at the Four Seasons Centre where the Ensemble members will be offering staged scenes, with full orchestra, from Mozart’s La finta giardiniera, Bellini’s Norma and Handel’s Ariodante. The alternative is Tapestry Songbook VII featuring Krisztina Szabó, Keith Klassen and Stephen Philcox performing numbers from Tapestry’s extensive back catalogue. That’s at the Ernest Balmer Studio at 7.30pm. There are repeat shows on Friday at 7.30pm and 10pm. Looks like both 7.30pm shows are sold out but late night Friday is still available. Operaramblings’ extensive spy network (not Louise Mensch) suggests that patrons may also learn something to their advantage. The day before, Wednesday at 7.30pm, there’s a Don Giovanni in concert at Royal St. George’s Chapel. Actually seeing as how dancer Bill Coleman is involved it may not be entirely straight “in concert”. The cast includes Alexander Dobson in the title role, Katherine Whyte, Colin Ainsworth, Taiya Kasahara, Vania Chan and Matthew Li plus a “special guest”. Tickets at www.opera-is.com or on the door. There is still time to catch the COC’s winter offerings. The Magic Flute plays today, tomorrow and Friday with the last Götterdämmerung next Saturday. That last seems to be sold out but the usual rush and standing room deals may apply.
Tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon Off Centre Music Salon opens its 2016/17 season at 3pm at Trinity St. Paul’s. It’s an all Russian show called Four Seasons or Mother Russia. It will feature songs by Prokofiev’s The Ugly Duckling and songs byTchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff, as well as Arensky’s Piano Trio in D minor (op. 32). The highlight is the Toronto premiere of Valery Gavrilin’s song cycle Seasons inspired by Northern Russian folklore and chanting traditions. Performers include cellist Igor Gefter, pianists Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin, violinist Mark Skazinetky and singers Joni Henson and Ryan Harper.
Here are details on some forthcoming new and/or amended shows. November 17th – 19th Toronto Masque Theatre are performing a double bill of Handel’s Apollo and Daphne featuring Jacqueline Woodley & Geoffrey Sirett performing alongside Montreal dancer Stéphaie Brochard. Larry Beckwith will lead a period instrument orchestra. It’s coupled with Richard Strauss’ Enoch Arden for spoken voice and piano. It will be performed by actor Frank Cox-O’Connell & pianist Angela Park. That one is at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse at 8pm. Tickets and details here.
Toronto Masque Theatre have announced their 2016/17 season. There are two main stage productions and three salon concerts. First of the main stage shows is a double bill of Handel’s dramatic cantata Apollo and Daphne with Jacqueline Woodley and Geoffrey Sirett and dancer Stéphaie Brochard, directed and choreographed by Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière paired with Richard Strauss’s Enoch Arden based on the epic poem by Tennyson, performed by actor Derek Boyes and pianist Angela Park. This one is at 8:00 pm on November 17th, 18th and 19th with a pre-show event at 7:15 pm each evening at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse.
Things are really starting to slow down so this will be the last “upcoming” post before the summer lull when this feature will go on hiatus. Next week there’s the final vocal concert of the season in the RBA. It’s on Tuesday at noon when Karine Boucher will perform Ravel’s Shéhérazade with Charles Sy joining in with Britten’s Les Illuminations. On Sunday 21st at 5pm in Mazzoleni Hall, Christina Campsall has a recital of 20th century works including the challenging Messiaen piece, Poèmes pour Mi. It’s free.
So there’s another new approach to art song in Toronto. Collectìf is a new group “dedicated to exploring and expanding the world of art song performance and presenting innovative, song-based theatre”. The people behind this one, Danikà Loren, Whitney O’Hearne and Jennifer Krabbe, are young and very talented. They have a show on December 14th and 15th at Loft404’s B-Lounge. It’s called Le Rossignol et la Rose. We are promised Oscar Wilde and the underground nightlife of 1930s Paris. I shall go with a seriously depressed student and try not to pin my hand to a table with a knife.