Gianni Schicchi

The COC’s production of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi directed by Amy Lane is now available to watch for free, for the next six months, at coc.ca/watch .  It’s given a 1950s Italian setting but otherwise it’s a pretty straightforward approach reliant on good ensemble directing and acting, which it gets.  It’s livened up by video projections by Alexander Gunnarsson, which come over really very well on the film.

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Looking to November

Norway-NovemberAs the rest of the world moves to live in-person performance Toronto is still mostly stuck in Covidland.  My calendar for the month currently has two in-person shows (both courtesy of the RCM) and three streams.  So:

November 6th at 7.30pm in Mazzoleni Hall. The GGS Opera programme is presenting Ana Sokolovic’s Svadba.  It seems hard to believe that the premiere was over ten years ago!

November 27th at 8pm in Koerner Hall.  Stewart Goodyear, soloists, the Penderecki Quartet and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir present the premiere of Goodyear’s Piano Quintet plus Beethoven’s 9th symphony in piano reduction.  This one is also livestreamed.

And so to streams:

November 19th at 8pm.  Soundstreams presents Love Songs; a 45 minute programme of music by Claude Vivier and Christopher Mayo. (ticketed)

November 25th at 7.30 pm (and the following three days).  UoT Opera is performing Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. (free)

November 26th at 7.30pm.  The COC and Against the Grain are collaborating on a staged Mozart Requiem.  (free)

October upcoming

Still not a whole lot going on and much of what is, is at short notice so it misses posts like this.  But, here’s what’s in my diary for October so far.

  • September 30th to October 17th.  Mistatim; a streamed version of the Rsd Sky/TSO collaboration for young people presented by Crow’s Theatre.  Streaming codes are $20 from the Crow’s box office.
  • October 14th 8pm.  Soundstreams presents RBC Bridges Showcase; six short choral works by young composers.  It’s on-line and free and available for a month.  Register here.
  • October 15th, 7.30pm.  The annual IRCPA Encounter concert with ten young singers and Rachel Andrist at the piano.  It’s being broadcast from Zoomer Hall, presumably w/o a live audience.  It’s free at Classical 96.3 FM, and at http://classicalfm.ca.
  •  October 24th at 3pm.  The Dover Quartet at Koerner Hall in a programme that includes Barber’s Dover Beach.  There are in-person tickets and live stream codes available.  The pricing structure is complex so check out rcmusic.ca for details.
  • October 29th (subscriber/donors) and 30th (plebs) at 7.30pm.  The COC is streaming Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi from the Four Seasons Centre.  The stream will be “on-demand” for at least a month and is free.

That’s it I’m afraid.

Tamara Wilson and Russell Braun in concert

The first virtual offering if the COC’s season is now available at coc.ca.  It’s a ninety minute concert featuring Tamara Wilson, Russell Braun and the COC orchestra with Johannes Debus conducting. The choice of rep is fairly “safe” with plenty of Verdi and Puccini though there’s quite a lot of Wagner too.  Both singes are in good voice; Tammy Wilson very much so.  Her “Ben io t’invenni… Anch’io dischiuso” from Verdi’s Nabucco is dramatic and there’s a moving “Vissi d’arte”, “Tacea la notte placida… Di tale amor” from Il Trovatore gives evidence of flexibility and precision as well as power in and she gives an excellent Liebestod to finish.  Russell sounds really lyrical especially in that concert favourite “Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen” and in Wolfram’s “O du, mein holder Abendstern”.

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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.

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.

All the news that fits…

orvaxThere’s less being produced right now in the way of on-line content but here are a few titbits:

  • Opera Revue has a new and very silly vaccine related number on Youtube.
  • Sara Schabas has a recital recorded in the Spiegelsaal at the Opernhaus Zürich premiering on Sunday.  This one is ticketed ($10 in aid of Highlands Opera Studio).  Tickets here.
  • Kathy Domoney has a new series of Opera Breaks coming up.  You can check out previous Opera Breaks here, which is also where the new stuff will eventually appear.  The schedule is:
    • June 12th – “Dite alla giovine”, La Traviata ( Verdi) duet – Natalya Gennadi, soprano & Dion Mazerolle, baritone
    • June 26th – “ Green Finch and Linnet Bird”, Sweeney Todd ( Sondheim) – Caitlin Wood, soprano
    • July 10th – “Crudel! perché finora”, Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart) duet – Caitlin Wood, soprano & Clarence Frazer, baritone
    • July 26th – “ Vilia” , The Merry Widow ( Léhar) – Natalya Gennadi, soprano

There’s also been a sorta, kinda “season announcement” from the COC.  You can find it and Perryn Leach’s take on it on the COC Youtube channel.  Basically there’s going to be free, live streamed content from the Four Seasons Centre in the fall using the kit I talked about in discussing the COC/NBC’s digital strategy back when.  What it is, whether there will be any kind of in-house audience and what happens after Christmas we have to wait until August to find out.

Defrocking the canon

There have been a lot of discussions lately about diversity in opera and how, particularly, race and gender are represented in very limited and problematic ways, especially in the canonical operas of the long 19th century.  The latest to come my way is a very good panel discussion hosted by the COC (on their Youtube channel) and moderated by Aria Umezawa.  This one tackled gender issues but, inevitably broader questions came up and that’s what I want to explore here.  You might want to watch it either before or after reading the rest of this piece.

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The only revolution to ever start in an opera house….

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