Last night’s concert at Trinity Saint Paul’s by the Amici Ensemble and friends. was titled From Strauss to the Orient. Unsurprisingly, the first half of the concert was Strauss. The first piece was the Duett Concertino for clarinet, bassoon, strings and harp; arranged by Serouj Kradjian with piano replacing harp. Besides the Amicis (Serouj – piano, Joaquin Valdepeñas – clarinet and David Hetherington – cello) were guests Kathleen Kajioka and Timothy Ying – violins, Barry Shiffman – viola, David Lalonde – bass and Michael Sweeney – bassoon. It’s an interesting piece. The clarinet and bassoon basically carry on a conversation across three movements with the strings and piano as a sort of “backing band”. The overlapping ranges but very different colours of the two woodwind instruments are both pleasing and intriguing. It was nicely done. It’s always a delight to watch a chamber ensemble that is obviously communicating and having fun!
September starts the slow ramp up to the new season. The first thing in my calendar is Mysterious Barricades on September 14th from 1pm to 2pm in Walter Hall. This is a series of coast to coast, dawn to dusk concerts in aid of Suicide Awareness. Russell Braun, Monica Whicher and Nathalie Paulin are all involved. It’s free but ticketed. Check the link for details.
Here are a few things I omitted from the listings posting on the weekend. First off, Opera Pub from Against the Grain Theatre on the 1st at 9pm. You can do Centre Stage at the Four Seasons Centre and still make it down to the Amsterdam Bicycle Club for less formal fun.
Not entirely opera related but ProArteDanza is presenting Figaro 2.0; a full-evening dance work co-choreographed by Roberto Campanella and Robert Glumbek on November 1st through 10th at 8pm at Harbourfront Centre’s Fleck Dance Theatre. Tickets are available here. It’s the same story as the opera of course.
On the 11th there’s the first in this season’s Mazzoleni Songmasters series. Joyce El-Khoury and Beste Kalender sing works by Ravel, Duparc and Debussy as well as songs from the Levant.
It’s September and the long, slow awakening after the annual aestivation begins. There’s not a lot on yet but what there is is interesting. The middle of the month sees Native Earth’s production of I Call myself Princess at the Aki Studio; previews from 9th to 12th September with official opening on the 13th and then shows until the end of the month. My interview with playwright Jani Lauzon is here. Also opening on the 13th is Tapestry Briefs at the Ernest Balmer Studio. Hear the product of the LibLab, hear Stephanie Tritchew, Teiya Kasahara, Peter McGillivray and Keith Klassen and eat tapas. It runs until the 16th.
This review first appeared in the print edition of Opera Canada.
Lebanese Canadian soprano Joyce El Khoury’s new CD on the Opera Rara label is a sort of “tribute album” to 19th century Belgian diva Julie Dorus-Gras. Mme. Dorus-Gras was a fixture at L’Opéra de Paris in the middle decades of the century, though only after she had starred in the performance of Auber’s La muette de Portici which sparked off the Belgian revolution of 1830. In Paris she created many new roles including Alice in Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable and Princess Eudoxie in Halévy’s La Juive. She thrived on the mixture of bel canto and grand opera that flourished in Paris in this period.
Last night we saw the last performance of the current COC run of La Traviata, this time with the alternate cast. Joyce El-Khoury, Andrew Haji and James Westman came in for Ekaterina Siurina, Charles Castronovo and Quinn Kelsey. We were also sitting in Ring 3 rather than lower down which gave a rather different perspective; perhaps not showing off the clever lighting for the intimate scenes quite as well but much more effective, by giving greater depth, for the party scenes.
As previously revealed the line up for last night’s Centre Stage; the COC’s gala competition cum Ensemble Studio final audition featured four mezzos, two sopranos and two baritones. Not a tenor to be had. As was the case two years ago the competition was split into two parts; a late afternoon session for an invited audience and an early evening public session separated by a cocktail reception. Each singer presented one aria in each session. Accompaniment was provided by the COC Orchestra with music director Johannes Debus.
There are a couple of biggies coming up next week. On October 7th and 8th the amazingly talented and apparently fearless Barbara Hannigan is singing with and conducting the TSO. For all I know she’ll be tap dancing and doing hand stands as well. It’s her conducting debut with this orchestra. The programme features works by Nono, Haydn, Mozart, Ligeti and Stravinsky. 8pm Roy Thomson Hall.
For my second look at La Bohème at the COC I caught the first night of what is, effectively, the third cast. This is actually the first cast but with Eric Margiore replacing Dmitri Pittas as the third Rodolfo of the run. So, how did it compare to Wednesday night’s effort?
La Bohème has been running at the COC for a couple of weeks now but last night was the first performance for the second cast. There are some new faces; Michael Fabiano comes in as Rodolfo with Simone Osborne as Musetta, Tom Corbeil as Colline and Cameron McPhail as Schaunard. There are also some change ups. Joyce El-Khoury swaps Musetta for Mimi and Phillip Addis swaps Schaunard for Marcello. I’ll be back Friday to see the opening night cast with the exception of Eric Margiore coming in as Rodolfo.