Ensemble Studio at the Aga Khan Museum

Usually by December I’ve had a pretty good chance to see the COC’s Ensemble Studio. Not this year of course. So it was good to see at least a few of them in a stream of a short concert recorded at the Aga Khan Museum.

cocagakhan

Continue reading

Yet more…

I just watched the first in a projected series of “aria films” by Carson Gilmore.  The first one features Morte col fiero aspetto from Hasse’s Marc’Antonio e Cleopatra.  It features the rather impressive British mezzo Rachel Labovitch and it’s rather dark and disturbing. My sort of thing!

morte

In other news the COC has announced a series of “solo spotlights” with some members of the COC orchestra.  The first one is on December 15th with Marie Bédard.  All the details are here.

.

Perryn Leech to head the COC

leechThe waiting is over. The COC has announced the successor to Alexander Neef and it’s Perryn Leech who currently runs Houston Grand Opera.  I think there’s a lot to like in this appointment.  Leech is a guy who has done a lot in his career and I like that he comes from a technical background; in lighting as it happens.  I would worry that someone from a stage direction background would want to hog that aspect of opera production.  After all, it’s happened before at the COC.  A conductor background would be redundant given we have an excellent music director.  And the last thing we need is a business person with no real passion for opera.

Continue reading

Alexander Neef and the COC

torontoparisI’m quite disturbed by some of the things I’ve been reading in the wake of Alexander Neef’s departure from the COC.  Much of it seems driven by a kind of cultural chauvinism that I find as unpalatable as other kinds of chauvinism.  There’s an underlying (or not so underlying) assumption that a Canadian GD would have looked out for the COC while Neef was just looking out for himself.  I have two problems with this.  One is the rather obvious point that if you hire someone who is on a career trajectory they are going to devote some time and energy to their career.  It doesn’t mean they won’t get the job done for you (and likely better than a mediocrity) because if they don’t that career trajectory will disappear rather rapidly. ny organization hiring a high flyer knows this.. 

Continue reading

COC announces virtual fall season

virtualThe COC has announced a virtual (almost) fall season.  It’s mainly community outreach with an emphasis on young people which is entirely consistent with conversations I’ve had with the COC (and indeed other companies).

  • In November there will be a three day festival of concerts from the Richard Bradshaw amphitheatre backed up by interviews etc.
  • Continue reading

Couple of on-line events

18-19-02-MC-D-0458

FAWN are streaming a version of their latest Convergence theory concert on Thursday evening.  This isn’t opera.  It’s part of FAWN’s electronic music series.  You can find out the details, order your 3D glasses and see a sample here.

On August 10th at 6.30pm EST the COC are livestreaming Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian as part of Montreal Pride.  It’s apparently been filmed in HD (unlike the archive videos the COC has been streaming for a while now).  I wonder if that means a video release at some point.  It’s free but requires advance registration at coc.ca/Hadrian.  Not familiar with the work?  Here’s a link to my review of the opening night.

I’ve mentioned this one before but don’t forget Ema Nikolovska and Steven Philcox’ recital for TSM.  That’s on July 31st at noon EST.

Songs of Hope

On Thursday evening the members of COC’s Ensemble Studio collaborated to create an on-line concert called Songs of Hope.  All the current Ensemble members plus Liz Upchurch took part in an extremely eclectic programme MC’d by Simone Osborne.  There was “classic” art song with Jamie Groote singing Britten’s arrangement of Burns’ Highland Balou.  Joel Allison sang Silent Noon by Vaughan Williams; a test piece for any Anglo baritone inviting comparison with the likes of Thomas Allen and Bryn Terfel.  He passes the test in my book.  Very fine singing indeed.  Vartan Gabrielan gave us a rare chance to hear a genuine bass singing Schubert; in this case Ständchen.  The different timbre is an interesting and welcome change.

songsofhope

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

19-20-02-MC-D-0362

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).

Shanawdithit2_small

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.

TwoOdysseys_Pimooteewin-photobyDahliaKatz-40

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

More streaming opportunities

mundaThere are two shows on June 18th.  At 6pm EDT Parma records are hosting a concert of contemporary cello music featuring Ovidiu Marinescu.  Then at 8pm it’s Opera Pub on Facebook Live from AtG Theatre.  If you can’t catch it live it will likely show up on AtG’s Youtube channel a couple of days later.

Continue reading