A few announcements

MY Opera have announced the cast for their spring production of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia.  Christina Campsall sings the title role with Nicholas Borg as Tarquinius.  Jonelle Sills, Daevyd Pepper, Jacob Feldman, Evan Korbut, Victoria Marshall and Anne-Marie MacIntoshround out the cast.  Natasha Fransblow will direct musically from the piano and stage production is by Anna Theodakis.  There will be three performances April 29th to May 1st in the Aki Studio at Daniels Spectrum.

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The Living Spectacle

spectacle-300x286The Canadian Art Song Project branched out last night with a ticketed concert at The Extension Room.  The opening number was the latest CASP commission; The Living Spectacle by Erik Ross to words by Baudelaire translated by Roy Campbell.  Like a lot of modern song the three movements were all quite piano forward and hard on the singer.  The second text, The Evil Monk, certainly brought out the darker and more dramatic side of Ambur Braid’s voice while the third, The Death of Artists, was cruelly high even for someone with Ambur’s coloratura chops.  She coped very well and Steven Philcox’ rendering of the piano part was suitably virtuosic.

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First week of November

1.sevenA few notable events this coming fall week.  Tuesday sees the COC’s annual gala competition for young singers, Centre Stage.  Prizes and possible places in the Ensemble Studio for next year are up for grabs.  The public part of the event starts at 5.30pm at The Four Seasons Centre with a cocktail reception followed by the final round of the competition.  Unusually this competition feature the full COC orchestra, not just piano.

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A couple of late entries

I thought I’d managed a pretty comprehensive update on the Toronto opera/choral/vocal music scene for March but there are a couple of gigs I got rather later info on.

On March 23rd at 7pm in Walter Hall, CASP have a concert of works from the more humorous end of the Canadian Art Song rep.  Mary-Lou Fallis, Geoff Sirett, peter Tiefenbach and Steven Philcox are performing.  Tickets are $40, $25 (senior) and $10 (student).

Then on Friday 27th Maureen Batt and Cheryl Duvall are performing a program of contemporary American and Canadian works, many of them written for Maureen, at Heliconian Hall.  It’s at 8pm and tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door and there are $15 early bird tickets available at https://www.bemusednetwork.com/events/detail/69

And in other news Voicebox:Opera in Concert have announced a cast change for their performance of Charpentier’s Louise on the 29th.  Keith Klassen replaces Adrian Kramer as the poet Julien.

A Celebration of Canadian Art Song

AllysonMcHardyParlando2This year’s new work from the Canadian Art Song Project, Marjan Mozetich’s Enchantments of Gwendolyn, was premiered yesterday in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.  It’s a setting of four really interesting poems by Gwendolyn MacEwen for mezzo-soprano and piano.  The first and last pieces; Sunday Morning Sermon and A Coin for the Ferryman are rather beautifulmeditative pieces and frame the two inner songs nicely.  These inner two, for me, was where much of the interest really lay.  Waiting for You was a blues inflected number of considerable interest, in some ways recalling Michael Tippett but in others entirely original. The third piece; The Tao of Physics, is a setting of a piece linking sub-atomic physics with the cosmology of The Vedas.  That’s not exactly an original idea but it’s always an interesting one to explore and, by accident or design, Mozetich does so in a manner that somewhat recall John Adams’ treatment of the same basic ideas.  We get a long, impassioned, vocal line floating over an arpeggiated piano accompaniment.  It’s impressive and effective.   All four pieces were beautifully performed by Allyson McHardy and Adam Sherkin.  McHardy’s warm. dark mezzo seemed perfect for the material and listening was like wallowing in hot chocolate (more lurid similes did suggest themselves but this is a family blog).  She can sing the blues too.  Who would have thought it.

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Moving into October

October is the month things usually really get going again in Toronto and this year is no exception.  The calendar for the first third of the month is very busy.  Highlights include three free concerts in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, the opening of two productions at the Canadian Opera Company and Nuit Blanche events at the Canadian Music Centre and the UoT Music Department.

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This season’s free concerts in the RBA

rbaThe Canadian Opera Company has just announced the 14/15 line up for the free lunchtime (mostly) concerts in the very beautiful Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre.  Highlights, from my point of view, include recitals by Jane Archibald, Krisztina Szabó, Lauren Segal, Colin Ainsworth, Joshua Hopkins, Robert Gleadow, Barbara Hannigan and Ekaterina Gubanova.  There will also be ten concerts by the Ensemble Studio plus the Quilico competition.  The Canadian Art Song Project will showcase Allyson McHardy in a new song cycle by Marjan Mozetich.  There’s also a themed series of concerts  to commemorate anniversaries of the First and Second World Wars, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. This will comprise six concerts drawn from the Vocal, Chamber Music and Piano Virtuoso programs.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  There are vocal, chamber, piano, dance, jazz and world music programs to suit a very wide range of tastes.  And it’s all free.  Full details at http://www.coc.ca/PerformancesAndTickets/FreeConcertSeries.aspx