The Angel Speaks

The Angel Speaks got its North American premiere last night at the Royal Ontario Museum.  It’s a new piece born out of Opera Atelier’s collaboration with the Chapel Royal at Versailles and represents something of a new direction for the company.  Structurally I suppose one could describe it as a cantata with dance for baroque instruments.  It combines works by Purcell (and a little William Boyce) with two new works by Edwin Huizinga to create a loose plot line around the Archangel Gabriel and the Annunciation of the Virgin.  It incorporates Huizinga’s Inception, first seen in Toronto as a sort of entr’acte to OA’s Pygmalion show last October.  But at the core of the piece is a new Huizinga composition; Annunciation, for baritone, soprano and small ensemble, setting text by Rilke.

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Looking forward to March

Commandatore imageUsually things slow down a bit at the end of February but not, it seems, this year.  First a notice for this month.  Sara Schabas and Daniel Norman present a recital of music by Bernstein, Mozart, Schubert, Alma & Gustav Mahler & more.  It’s at the Church of the Redeemer on Bloor at 7.30 pm on February 27th.  Tickets here.  The first weekend of the month is busy with a “semi-staged” Le comte Ory at Trinity St. Paul’s on Saturday March 2nd at 7.30pm.  The production is by François racine and the cast includes Asitha Tennekoon, Marjorie Maltais and Caitlin Wood.  On Sunday at 3pm Toronto Operetta Thaetre are presenting Ivor Novello’s Perchance to Dream.  That’s at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.  Also on Friday night and Sunday afternoon Opera York are doing Don Giovanni.  The Donnas are Natalya Gennadi and Beste Kalender; Nella bionda egli ha l’usanza di lodar la gentilezza, Nella bruna la costanza, That’s at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Arts.

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Water nymphs

Lauren Eberwein and Rachel Kerr put on a rather different show in the RBA at lunchtime.  The musical component consisted of Ravel’s Jeu d’eaux and Messiaen’s Poèmes pour Mi.  The surprise was that Lauren painted on a canvas on the floor throughout the performance.  She brought on two palettes of acrylics and used her hands and feet to create a large abstract on the broad theme of “water”.  Needless to say, she ended up covered in paint.

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Not Sam

Off I went to the Four Seasons Centre to see Samuel Chan and Stéphane Mayer perform some Schubert.  Sadly Sam was indisposed so what we got was a hastily, but very well, constructed program featuring some of the other singers in the Ensemble Studio.

Things kicked off with the increasingly impressive Anne-Sophie Neher in an accomplished rendering of Mozart’s “show off” piece Exsultate jubilate, in which she showed very decent control in the rather fiendish runs.  She was back later with “The Presentation of the Rose” from Der Rosenkavalier which sounded suitably Straussian and sufficiently girlish at the same time.  Nicely done. She made a third appearance with one of Adèles’s arias from Le comte Ory.  This didn’t quite do it for me but it was fun to hear Stéphane playing around with the very Rossiniesque accompaniment.

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Jessye Norman’s Glenn Gould Prize

Last night the main stage of the Four Seasons Centre was the setting for celebrating the award of the twelth Glenn Gould prize to the great Jessye Norman.  There were speeches, of course, celebrating Ms. Norman’s life as a singer rising to the top of the profession from unpromising origins as well as her lifetime of educational and philanthropic endeavours.  They were decently short and to the point allowing us to get onto to the music, though not before we had heard Ms. Norman’s heartfelt and very touching acceptance speech.

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Batting 1000

Yesterday saw the 1000th concert in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre (*) since the house opened in 2006.  Fittingly it was given by Susan Bullock who sang Brünnhilde in the Canadian premier of the Ring Cycle that christened the new theatre.  She was accompanied by Liz Upchurch who has also been around since before the new house existed.

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