There have been a series of interesting announcements about composers and commissions from the Canadian Opera Company recently. First is the announcement that Ian Cusson is to become composer-in-residence from August 2019. Cusson is part Métis and, readers may recall, featured as half of a memorable evening kicking off the new Confluence concert series in October. There’s an initial commission announced too. He will work with Colleen Murphy on a piece for “families and young people” that weaves elements of myth into a contemporary urban setting.
So one thing can be guaranteed in December; lots of Messiah. This year I have four on the radar. There’s the TSO of course. This year Johannes Debus conducts with soloists Claire de Sévigné, Allyson McHardy, Andrew Haji and Tyler Duncan. One might almost have expected the COC Chorus but actually it’s the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in the loft. That one runs December 18th, 19th, 21st and 22nd at 8pm and the 23rd at 3pm. Roy Thomson Hall of course. Over at Tafelmusik, it’s Ivars Taurins with Sherezade Panthaki, Krisztina Szabó, Charles Daniels and Drew Santini plus, of course, the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir. That’s on December 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st at Koerner Hall at 7.30pm. The Sing-a-Long version is at Roy Thomson Hall at 2pm on the 22nd. There’s also a workshop on the 8th at 2pm at Eglinton St. George’s United Church.
Centre Stage is the COC’s annual gala/competition with cash prizes and places in the Ensemble Studio at stake. Last night eight young singers competed. The format was one aria before the reception; for judges and invited guests, and one after; for all the punters. So here, in the order they sang in the first half are my thoughts.
I finally got to see Rufus Wainwright’s new opera Hadrian, to a libretto by Daniel Macivor, at the Four Seasons Centre last night. There’s been a lot of hype around it and I was interested; the few bits of music from it that I had heard intrigued me but I’m no fan of his earlier work Prima Donna. One thing was certain. The piece does not lack ambition. There are four acts totalling something like 160 minutes. There’s a large cast, a large orchestra, a large chorus and an epic storyline. It’s clearly an attempt to produce a “grand opera” for our times. Does it succeed?
The line ups for both the COC’s Centre Stage competition and the IRCPA’s Ten Singing Stars: The Next Generation have been announced. The former, besides cash prizes, is also the principal route into the COC’s Ensemble Studio program. The latter gets the winner an IRCPA Career Blueprint which includes three days at the National Opera Center in New York, new photographs, video and audio recordings, website consultation and mentoring with professionals.
At Centre Stage at the Four Seasons Centre on November 1st you can see:
- Tenor Matthew Cairns of St. Catharines, ON
- Soprano Vanessa Croome of Nanaimo, BC
- Bass-baritone Aaron Dimoff of Owen Sound, ON
- Bass-baritone Vartan Gabrielian of Toronto, ON
- Tenor Rocco Rupolo of Toronto, ON
- Mezzo-soprano Jamie Groote of Oakville, ON
- Soprano Andrea Lett of Humboldt, SK
- Soprano Noelle Slaney of Gander, NL
This is a gala starting with a reception at 5.30 pm. Tickets at coc.ca.
The IRCPA concert is on November 5th at 7.15pm at Zoomer Hall. Tickets at http://ircpa.net. The line up is:
Sopranos: Tonia Cianciulli, Jocelyn Fralick, Beth Hagerman, Teiya Kasahara, Kathleen Promane, Sara Schabas, Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor
Mezzo-soprano: Georgia Burashko
Tenors: Zachary Rioux, John-Michael Scapin
My review of yesterday’s opening performance of Robert Carsen’s production of Eugene Onegin at the COC is now up on Bachtrack.
Things are starting to liven up again in the Toronto scene. Here’s a look ahead to the balance of September and the first half of October. This week sees a performance of Weill’s Little Mahagonny by VOICEBOX at Gallery 345. That’s on Tuesday 25th at 7.30pm and will be followed by a wine and cheese reception. Tickets are available at Eventbrite.
The COC season opens on the 30th with Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin featuring Gordon Bintner, Joseph Kaiser and Joyce El-Khoury. There are eight performances ending on 3rd Novemeber. The companion work is the premier run of Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian which opens on October 13th. It’s a starry cast including Thomas Hampson and Karita Matilla. There are seven performances ending October 27th.