Toronto Summer Music

Ema-Nikolovska-sq-credit-Kaupo-KikkasToronto Summer Music have announced their revised “virtual” schedule.  Alas most of the vocal music is gone but there is plenty of interesting looking chamber music with, of course, a Beethoven focus.  It runs July 16th to August 1st and it’s all free.  The full schedule is here.

The one vocal recital features mezzo Ema Nikolovska with Steven Philcox in an interesting and varied programme.  It airs on July 31st from noon to 2pm.  The programme is here.

All the news that fits

NewFSCBannerPretty major announcements from both the COC and the TSO recently; the COC’s reinforced with an on-line Q&A with Alexander Neef last night.  The substance of the COC announcement is that the fall season (Parsifal and Marriage of Figaro) is cancelled along with all other in-person performances for the rest of 2020.  Parsifal has been rescheduled for the fall season 2022.  At this point the rest of the 2020/21 season is still on.  Officially at least.  However Alexander made it pretty clear that the Four Seasons Centre won’t be reopened until they can sell at least the bulk of the seats which would mean the end of social distancing.  I don’t see that happening until a Covid-19 vaccine is generally available and can’t imagine that being soon enough to save the winter season and maybe not the spring season either.  Meanwhile the COC is looking at its virtual options.

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Doras 2020

The Dora winners were announced last night.  I don’t think there were any big surprises in the opera category.  The COC’s Rusalka scooped most awards with four including Outstanding Production.  The other three were Outstanding Direction (David McVicar), Outstanding Musical Direction (Johannes Debus) and Outstanding Achievement in Design (Lighting) (David Finn).  It was probably the best thing overall the COC has done in a long time so not shocked.

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Yvette Nolan and Dean Burry won the  Outstanding New Opera category for Shanawdithit.  I’m delighted about this one as I had rather more personal emotional investment in this project than most things I see and it was an important project in so many ways. Marnie Breckenridge received the Dora for Outstanding Performance by an Individual for her performance in Jacqueline.  Also well deserved and a wee but surprising as there was every reason to give this one to Sondra Radvanovsky and usually that kind of name recognition wins out.  In any event two big wins for Tapestry (and a nod to Opera on the Avalon for being a smaller regional company prepared to invest in something relevant).

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Finally, Soundstreams presentation of Two Odysseys: Pimooteewin / Gállábártnit won Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble.  In this case Nicole Joy-Fraser, Karen
Weigold, Vania Chan, Deantha Edmunds, Jennifer Taverner, Rebecca Cuddy, Bó Bárdos, Michelle Lafferty, Jonathan MacArthur, Mitchell Pady, Evan Korbut, Bryan Martin and Neil Aronof.  This was another fascinating show that deserved some recognition.

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So, yes, the eight hundred pound gorilla came out on top but hardly by a knock out.

Things virtual coming up

June 24th sees the return, virtually, of Larry Beckwith’s Confluence Concerts.  Let’s Stay Together: A Confluence Salon will air on the Confluence Youtube Channel at 7pm EST with a pre-show Q&A at 6.30pm.   Larry Beckwith, Dylan Bell, Andrew Downing, Gordon Gerrard, Robert Kortgaard, Marion Newman, Patricia O’Callaghan, Suba Sankaran and Bijan Sepanji will perform music by Randy Newman, Ernest Chausson, Edith Piaf, Béla Bartok, Peter Maxwell Davies, Gustav Mahler, Leonard Cohen, Suba Sankaran, The Beatles, Charlie Chaplin and others. In addition, the renowned Canadian author André Alexis will read poems by Anna Akhmatova, Roo Borson and one of his own, Johnson Grass, from his 2019 novel Days by Moonlight.  I’m excited.  Since the series started Confluence has been one of the most interesting and fun gigs in town.  Free!

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Sephardic Treasures

sephardictreasuresSephardic Treasures is a collection of traditional Sephardic songs in less traditional arrangements.  The texts (Ladino and Spanish) and melodies are original and drawn from a collection of songs thought to originate in the 12th to 15th centuries.  The arrangements, by bassist Alan Lewine, draw on jazz, flamenco and Israeli folk music incorporating instruments like bass, trumpet, flamenco guitar, piano, flute, shofar and percussion to create quite a range of styles that fit the texts well.  All of this is grounded in the stylish and idiomatic singing of soprano Ana Maria Ruimonte.  It’s fun listening.  Some of the songs have that twisted, even gruesome, quality of a lot of medieval songs; husbands who have their wives executed, wives who feed their step children to their husbands etc, but others are very light hearted, like the one about the cat who is so surprised by a proposal of marriage that he falls off the roof and is killed but when they try to bury him in a sardine box the smell revives him!

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Royal Conservatory 2020/21

Koerner-HallThe Royal Conservatory’s 2020/21 concert season has been announced..  It’s the usual eclectic mix of all kinds of classical music plus jazz and world music spread across the Conservatory’s three performance venues.  It looks like the provisional planning is for some kind of social distancing.  When that will be possible and how long it might go on is, of course, anybody’s guess but the planning assumes some kind of performances will be possible from October.

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Exploring the Doras

2020-Dora-AwardThe Dora award nominations are in.  The most interesting thing is that the COC doesn’t dominate the Opera category this year.  In fact Tapestry has most nominations with thirteen.  In general, it was really nice to see new “committed” opera dominating the list rather than the usual stuff.  Indigenous themes did very well too which is very pleasing.  Loads of nominations for Shanawdithit, including Best Performer in a Leading Role for Marion Newman, which pleases me greatly.  Good to see FAWN’s Pandora and Soundstreams’ Two Odysseys: Pimooteewin / Gállábártnit featuring along with LooseTea’s Singing Only Softly/The Diary of Anne Frank: Operas from the Secret Annex.  There was one surprise in the list of COC nominations.  I’m actually quite shocked that Speranza Sperucci didn’t get nominated for her conducting of Barber of Seville; a really remarkable performance.  And one non-surprise; multiple nominations for Rusalka which might just be the best thing the COC have done in quite a while.

So now we can all speculate on who the eventual winners will be.

More on line stuff

The COC is posting complete performance videos from the archive here.   These are “technical” videos designed to inform a future revival rather than material intended for broadcast.  They feature a single camera angle (full stage) and the video quality is so-so but it’s quite interesting.  There will be one available at a time and the current one is Strauss’ Arabella from a couple of seasons ago.

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New voices at Amplified Opera

Amplified Opera was created by Teiya Kasahara and Aria Umezawa to promote the values of equity, diversity and inclusion in and through opera.  They have produced shows like The Way I See It, showcasing blind soprano Laurie Rubin and visually impaired pianist Liz Upchurch in a show about visual impairment and its challenges in the opera world (and anyone who nows me will realise how near the bone that cut).  They’ve also produced Teiya’s The Queen in Me (which I missed but which was based on the earlier show Queer of the Night); both shows exploring the pressures placed on a gay diva by the opera world.

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