Underwhelmed

facepalmThe COC has announced “live” performances for the balance of the 2021/22 season and colour me massively underwhelmed.  Obviously, the return to live performance is something we’ve all been waiting for but three dull revival productions of ultra-mainstream operas is not what I had hoped for.  For the record here is what’s coming up:

Puccini – Madama Butterfly – February 4th – 25th, 2022.  Tghis is the COC production that has been seen umpteen times already at the COC and it has absolutely nothing to say.  One had hoped that if and when the COC did this piece again they would come up with a new production that wasn’t so transparently colonialist.

Verdi – La Traviata – April 23rd – May 20th, 2022.  Another basically dull, traditional production though, at least, as Douglas Adams might say “mostly harmless”.

Mozart – The Magic Flute –  May 6th – 21st, 2022.  This is the production that the original director called “feminist” though anything “feminist” or, indeed, “anythingist” has escaped me on the multiple occasions I’ve seen it.

So there it is.  Looks like a “lowest common denominator” approach to luring back the traditional crowd.  It’s certainly hard to see how it helps with reaching out to new audiences or to achieving any of the bold goals of diversity, inclusion and telling stories relevant to today’s audience that were bruited so loud during lockdown.

Confluence Concerts 2021/22

js-bachConfluence Conerts has announced its 2021/22 season with some details to be firmed up when anyone figures out what the “new normal” actually is.  First up is a presentation of the Bach suites for solo cello in conjunction with the Toronto Bach Festival.  They are being performed at Heliconian Hall and recorded for later, free, Youtube streaming on Confluence’s channel.  There will be some tickets available for the live performance but no details on that yet.  The performances are as follows:

Cello Suites No. 1 in G Major BWV 1007 and No. 3 in C Major BWV 1009
Concert September 22nd at 7pm at the Heliconian Hall
YouTube premiere October 1st
With Winona Zelenka  and Michelle Tang, cello

Cello Suites No.4 in E-flat Major BWV 1010 and No. 6 in D Major BWV 1012
Concert October 21st at 7pm at the Heliconian Hall
YouTube premiere October 29th
With Keiran Campbell, cello and Elinor Frey, violoncello piccolo

Cello Suites No. 2 in D Minor BWV 1008 and No. 5 in C Minor BWV 1011
Concert November 3rd at 7pm at the Heliconian Hall
YouTube premiere November 10th
With Andrew Downing, double bass, and Ryan Davis, viola

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Royal Conservatory 2021/22

rcmThe Royal Conservatory of Music has just announced a real live season for 2021/22. Covid restrictions will likely be in place for at least the first part of the season but hopefully will ease up at some point. There’s the usual eclectic mix of classical, vocal, jazz, world music etc so I’ll just cover the classical vocal stuff which is actually pretty exciting.  Let’s go through it chronologically. Continue reading

Recent and upcoming

sitrIt’s been a bit quiet lately but there a couple of live shows and a video that you might want to check out.  None of them are opera really but whatever.  Shakespeare in the Ruff are doing something different this year.  They have a one hour show called Towards Rebirth which explores the themes of Rupture, Resilience, and Rebirth.  It was created in workshop by the actors and so it’s maybe not the most polished theatre you will ever see but it’s quite moving and sometimes very funny.  There are six more shows in Withrow Park at 3pm and 6.30pm Friday through Sunday.  It’s ticketed and PWYC.  Details here.

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COC fall 2021 season

it_never_endAs expected the COC’s fall season, announced today, is all virtual.  Even the RBA concerts will be 5 minute on-line nuggets.  The stuff on the main stage is pretty interesting though.  Here’s the line up (note all dates are “supporter opening night”.  General streaming starts 24 hours later.  All shows are at 7.30pm).:

  • 24th October: Russell Braun and tamara Wilson in concert with the COC Orchestra and Johannes Debus.  Details here.
  • 29th October: Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.  Amy Lane directs.  Roland Wood sings the man.  More details.
  • 12th November: Juno award winning jazz/folk fusion group Okan perform songs from their latest album.  Details.
  • 26th November: Mozart’s Requiem with Midori Marsh, Marion Newman, Andrew Hadji and Vartan Gabrielan plus the COC orchestra and chorus and Johannes Debus.  More.
  • 17th December: In Winter.  A concert featuring winter themed music including a new piece for solo, chorus and orchestra by Ian Cusson.  Performers include Melody Courage past and present members of the Ensemble Studio and the COC opera and chorus with Johannes Debus.  Details.

I’m a bit disappointed that there’s nothing concrete about a return to live with an audience performance but I’m not surprised.  I just hope the Village Idiot in Chief can get his mind around something like a vaccination passport in time for a post Christmas return.

At least all this content is free and that’s a big plus.

Soundstreams 21/22 season

In what seems to becoming the pattern, Soundstreams has announced a 21/22 season which is virtual for the balance of this year with a possible return to “live” early next year.

The digital performances include a new film, Garden of Vanished Pleasures, directed by Tim Albery with music by Cecilia Livingston and Donna McKevitt inspired by Derek Jarman and his garden.  That’s in September.  Ironically I might see it before Jarman’s own film about his garden which I have had on hold at the TPL since January!

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Season announcements

A couple of “season” announcements have come in.  Inverted commas because it’s all rather provisional with more details to come. Opera Atelier is offering a virtual summer/fall season with a reprise of Handel’s Resurrection from July 29th through August 12th.  This time there is a Standard Audio Description; a tool for blind and partially sighted people.  The fall sees the final version of Edwin Huizinga’s Angel released as a film that will stream October 28th through November 12th,  The cast includes Measha Brueggergosman, Colin Ainsworth,  Mireille Asselin, Jesse Blumberg, Meghan Lindsay, John Tibbetts (Opera Atelier debut), and Douglas Williams.  An announcement about a return to in theatre perfomances will be made in January.

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Photo credit: Bruce Zinger

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One swallow and all that

Faint signs of something approaching normality are in the air.  Following on from the TSO’s season announcement which promises shows with a live audience (unknown terms and conditions apply), Toronto Summer Music has announced that concerts in the third week of the festival will also have live listeners (as well as live streaming).  There’s a lineup of nineteen concerts at Grace Church on the Hill and tickets are on sale now at $50/each.

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Back to the Future

Do you remember back when real live musicians used to perform for a real live audience?  Well some mad dudes are trying to revive it.  Tapestry Opera have some shows in conjunction with Canadian Stage coming up in High Park.  July 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th you can catch the show “Box Concerts” that Tapestry have been taking around health care facilities and offering for private booking.  It’s PWYC.  Booking is via Canadian Stage.  Also on the 17th at 3pm there’s an extended program including excerpts from Rocking Horse Winner where Asitha Tennekoon will be joined by Midori Marsh and Lucia Cesaroni.  That’s $50 booked at the same page.

Asitha Tennekoon performing in Tapestry Opera's Box Concerts. Photo by Dahlia Katz (1)

Photo credit: Dahlia Katz

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Toronto Summer Music

tsmf2021It’s almost time for the Toronto Summer Music Festival 2021.  This year it runs July 15th to August 1st.  The bad news is that, like last year, it’s virtual.  The good news is that it’s all free and, as always, there’s some excellent stuff.  The full line up and details of how to access the streams are here.

The highlight for me will be Adrianne Pieczonka and Steven Philcox in a recital featuring Purcell’s “Music for a While”, selected lieder by Clara Schumann, a selection of melodies by Fauré, “Hermit Songs” by Samuel Barber, and selections of works by George Gershwin.  That’s on Tuesday, July 20th at 7:30 pm.

So far no word on the line up for the Regeneration concerts but I guess I won’t miss spending three summer Saturdays alternating between a freezing Walter Hall and a scorching Philosopher’s Walk.  It will feel quite civilised to dip into the Regen stuff as and when.