February 2023

february2023Here’s what I’m looking forward to in February plus a few gigs I can’t make:

  • February 1st and 2nd the Chicago Symphony and Riccardo Muti are performing at Koerner Hall.  It’s a rare opportunity to hear a top orchestra in the wonderful Koerner acoustic but it’s probably sold out already.
  • On February 3rd the COC opens a run of Richard Strauss’ Salome with Ambur Braid in the title role and a stellar supporting cast.  Hard core Braid fans (and that includes me) know that this is a role she was born to sing.  It’s an Atom Egoyan production and he’ll likely tweak it but here’s a link to my review of the 2013 run.
  • February 6th sees the return of the Quilico Awards; a competition for the singers of the Ensemble Studio.  That’s at 5.30pm in the RBA and it’s free.

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January 2023

januarty wordcloudJanuary is looking quite promising on both the music and theatre front but there’s not a lot of opera…  Here’s what’s in my agenda.

January 11th to 14th the TSO have four performances of a concert that includes Mozart’s Requiem with a good looking line up of soloists.

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The Dutchman returns

The COC’s 2022/23 season opened last night with a revival of David Alden’s production of Wagner’s Der fliegender Holländer with Marilyn Gronsdal directing.  It’s been eleven years since this production was last seen and, if memory serves, it created some controversy back then, chiefly on account of the Dutchman’s “zombie” crew.  Seeing it again it’s hard to see what the fuss was about.  It’s actually a very straightforward production where sailing ships are sailing ships and spinning sheds feature textile workers.  The only deviation from the libretto that I noticed was Senta’s death.  Here she’s shot by Erik while holding up a picture of the Dutchman.

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Up next…

More shows to enjoy…

  • hr_BengalTigerWebBannerOctober 11th to November 6th at Crow’s Theatre it’s Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.  “During the chaos of the 2003 American occupation of Iraq the lives of two American marines intersect with an Iraqi gardener as they search through the rubble of war for friendship, redemption, and a toilet seat made of gold.”
  • Jarrousky1October 26th at 8pm at Koerner Hall Philippe Jaroussky is appearing with Ensemble Artaserse.  It’s a rare chance to hear somewhat controversial countertemor Jaroussky sing with orchestra in an ideal venue.  The concert includes works by a range of baroque composers.  Some of the material is relatively familiar; “Cara sposa” from Rinaldo for example, but much is by less well known composers such as Hasse and Ferrandini.  Artaserse Ensemble is a leading period instrument band that, besides Jaroussky, has appeared with such singers as Cecilia Bartoli and Andreas Scholl.
  • October 27th – 30th at Alliance Française it’s Tapestry’s Tapestry Briefs: Les Shorts qui chantent.  This will showcase scenes created at the very first bi-lingual LibLab.  Direction is by Tim Albery.
  • October 26th to November 12th at Hart House Theatre, Howland Company and Hart House Theatre have a modern adaptation by Paolo Santalucia of Chekhov’s Three Sisters.
  • November 3rd at 5.30pm it’s Centre Stage at the Four Season’s Centre, live for the first time in a while.  It’s the usual format; cocktails and snacks, a competition for aspiring voices and, for the well heeled, an on-stage dinner.

If you are buying tickets look out for deals.  There’s a fair bit of discounting going on.  Some shows have clearly sold very well but others not so much.  The post pandemic bounce back looks a bit anaemic right now.

Back to the RBA

midoriIn another nod to normality the COC’s free concert series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre kicked off with the traditional concert with the members of the Ensemble Studio.  It was reasonably well attended, which is good news. But unlike previous years one didn’t need to be there an hour early to get a seat.  Which is not so good news.  I’m really curious to see when and if we start to get back to pre-plague audiences.

For me in previous years, this concert has been about taking stock; an opportunity to reflect on which members of the ES have progressed and how.  Yesterday was much harder as I’ve seen little of any of them (live at least) for two and a half years.  Some things though stood out.  Midori Marsh, who kicked off the show with “Caro nome” has matured quite a lot.  She’s always had a terrific voice but here she showed as a much more polished and poised performer.  Alex Hetherington is also something of a known quality with her excellent 2021 Norcop Prize recital one of the better streamed events of the pandemic.  She gets bonus points for singing “Lord, to Thee Each Night” from Handel’s Theodora.  It’s a highly charged and technically awkward piece that demonstrated her technique and artistic sensibility nicely. Continue reading

As the season ramps up…

fallintoLooking ahead to the next few weeks:

  • From September 11th to 25th Crow’s Theatre has a show; The Shape of Home: Songs in Search of Al Purdy.  This is a sort of staged song cycle exploring the words and ideas of “Canada’s unofficial poet laureate”.
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The Queen in Me

Watching The Queen in Me at the Canadian Opera Company Theatre last night I thought to myself that this was probably the first time I’d heard Teiya Kasahara singing classic opera arias with an orchestra.  Given how many times I’ve seen Teiya on stage that seemed really weird.  And that, I suppose, is one major aspect of what this show is all about; how casting is so rigidly stereotyped that it demands that people become something other than themselves to get cast.  A tall, muscular, tattooed Queen of the Night isn’t that much of a stretch but a tall, muscular tattooed Cio Cio San or Mimi is a bridge too far.

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Photo credit: Gary Beechey

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Well meh!

fscSo no big launch event to herald the COC’s 2022/23 season announcement, just an email.  I’m not surprised because if the season had been announced in front of a large crowd at the Four Seasons Centre there would probably have been a riot. There are six productions on the main stage and each gets only seven or eight performances for a total of 45 which is the lowest since the house opened.  Five of them are revivals and there’s no Parsifal.  I begin to think that I have more chance of finding the Holy Grail than ever seeing Parsifal in Toronto.

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