And so, into November

ThomasOliemans28-e1534886868523-1024x489Here are a few interesting events happening in the first half of November.  There are competitions.  There are also concerts…

Thursday 8th at 1.30pm in Walter Hall the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto are presenting baritone Thomas Oliemans, and pianist Malcolm Martineau in a programme consisting of Brahms’s Die schöne Magelone and Schumann’s Liederkreis, op. 39.  Tickets etc here.  There’s also a pre concert talk at 12.15pm when Jane Cooper will talk about Bertha Crawford. Continue reading

Sovereignty Voiced

Medicine-Bear-With-Spiritual-Helpers-1-745x1024Last night’s Confluence concert in the intimate space of the Ernest Balmer Studio; Sovereignty Voiced, was a fascinating mix of material celebrating various aspects of Indigenous culture and its interplay with Western arts.  Marion Newman and Ian Cusson performed excerpts from two of his song cycles; Five Orchestral Songs on Poems of Marilyn Dumont and A Breakfast for Barbarians.  Marion also gave us a few of her own songs  including the wicked Appropriation Aria and the Kinanu, which she wrote for her sister; given here with Marion on hand drum, Larry Beckwith on violin and Ian at the piano.

 

But this was much more than a concert of Indigenous themed art song, enjoyable though that part was.  There was also singer and drummer Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone with some of her own songs and actor Cole Alvis with stories about discovering his Métis roots.  Poet Armand Garnet Ruffo read from his poems inspired by the paintings of Norval Morrisseau.

If the rest of the Confluence series is this thought provoking it will be a notable addition to the Toronto music and arts scene.

Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian

I finally got to see Rufus Wainwright’s new opera Hadrian, to a libretto by Daniel Macivor, at the Four Seasons Centre last night.  There’s been a lot of hype around it and I was interested; the few bits of music from it that I had heard intrigued me but I’m no fan of his earlier work Prima Donna.  One thing was certain.  The piece does not lack ambition. There are four acts totalling something like 160 minutes.  There’s a large cast, a large orchestra, a large chorus and an epic storyline.  It’s clearly an attempt to produce a “grand opera” for our times.  Does it succeed?

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Competition news

The line ups for both the COC’s Centre Stage competition and the IRCPA’s Ten Singing Stars: The Next Generation have been announced.  The former, besides cash prizes, is also the principal route into the COC’s Ensemble Studio program.  The latter gets the winner an IRCPA Career Blueprint which includes three days at the National Opera Center in New York, new photographs, video and audio recordings, website consultation and mentoring with professionals.

At Centre Stage at the Four Seasons Centre on November 1st you can see:

  • Tenor Matthew Cairns of St. Catharines, ON
  • Soprano Vanessa Croome of Nanaimo, BC
  • Bass-baritone Aaron Dimoff of Owen Sound, ON
  • Bass-baritone Vartan Gabrielian of Toronto, ON
  • Tenor Rocco Rupolo of Toronto, ON
  • Mezzo-soprano Jamie Groote of Oakville, ON
  • Soprano Andrea Lett of Humboldt, SK
  • Soprano Noelle Slaney of Gander, NL

This is a gala starting with a reception at 5.30 pm.  Tickets at coc.ca.

The IRCPA concert is on November 5th at 7.15pm at Zoomer Hall.  Tickets at http://ircpa.net.  The line up is:

Sopranos:  Tonia Cianciulli, Jocelyn Fralick, Beth Hagerman, Teiya Kasahara, Kathleen Promane, Sara Schabas, Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor

Mezzo-soprano:  Georgia Burashko

Tenors:  Zachary Rioux, John-Michael Scapin

 

From Mozart to Verdi

My first chance to take a look at this year’s UoT Opera Program came up on Sunday night in a concert staged jointly with the UoT Symphony and the MacMillan Singers.  It was a series of opera orchestral pieces and ensembles kicking off with the overture from Die Zauberflöte, where the orchestra was Klemperer sized but the tempo distinctly quicker.  The evening proceeded via more Zauberflöte, Don Pasquale, Cavelleria Rusticana, Die Meistersinger and Carmen to the party scene in La Traviata.

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Act of Remembrance?

hand-graphic-on-blackHow, collectively, we remember is a cultural act defined by both choices and the general milieu in which the remembering takes place(*).  Sometimes this results in stories being distorted and “misremembered”.  The story of Shanawdithit, the last survivor of the Beothuk people is, perhaps, one such story.  Her life and death, the final act in the campaign of genocide against her people is still “remembered” in Newfoundland culture but how much do we really know?  The “evidence” boils down to a handful of sketches by Shanawdithit, annotated by one William Cormack; pretty much the only white person to show her any kindness or to display any interest in her people.  Dean Burry and Yvette Nolan’s new opera; a co-production of Tapestry Opera and Opera on the Avalon asks what we know and how we know it.  I attended a workshop presentation of the incomplete work yesterday.

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Lucio Silla moda grunge

Claus Guth has a way with Mozart.  At his best; with his Salzburg productions of the da Ponte operas for example, he’s superb while I was unconvinced by his Glyndebourne Clemenza, despite its ambition.  I was really keen to see what he would do with an opera like Lucio Silla which, despite some lovely music, is formulaic and potentially very boring.

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