This was baritone Sam Chan and pianist Stéphane Mayer’s farewell to the Ensemble Studio. It was an all Schubert program; Poetisches Tagebuch (Schulze), the Impromptu in G flat and the Goethe Lieder. It was a very classy performance by any standards. There was no need here to make allowances for “young artists”. One would have been happy to pay Koerner Hall prices to hear a recital of this quality.
Off I went to the Four Seasons Centre to see Samuel Chan and Stéphane Mayer perform some Schubert. Sadly Sam was indisposed so what we got was a hastily, but very well, constructed program featuring some of the other singers in the Ensemble Studio.
Things kicked off with the increasingly impressive Anne-Sophie Neher in an accomplished rendering of Mozart’s “show off” piece Exsultate jubilate, in which she showed very decent control in the rather fiendish runs. She was back later with “The Presentation of the Rose” from Der Rosenkavalier which sounded suitably Straussian and sufficiently girlish at the same time. Nicely done. She made a third appearance with one of Adèles’s arias from Le comte Ory. This didn’t quite do it for me but it was fun to hear Stéphane playing around with the very Rossiniesque accompaniment.
No big surprises in the announcement of new members of the COC Ensemble Studio. It’s the three prize winners from last year’s Centre Stage; tenor Matthew Cairns, bass-baritone Vartan Gabrielian and mezzo-soprano Jamie Groote. Also joining is pianist and intern coach Alex Soloway. Cairns and Groote are UoT grads and are well known to many Toronto opera goers through their appearances in UoT productions and elsewhere. Gabrielian is a Toronto native but studied at the Curtis so is not so well known. It will be interesting to get to know him.
Yesterday’s concert in the RBA, the first I’ve been to in a while, featured the five members of the Orchestra Academy; violinists Joella Pinto and Gloria Yip, violist Carolyn Farnand and cellists Erin Patterson and Alison Rich, with Joel Allison and Samuel Chan and Rachael Kerr on keyboards. It was an interesting concert in many ways. We don’t get to see the young instrumentalists much nor do we often see Ensemble members sing with a chamber ensemble. It was also interesting to hear the contrast between Joel’s dark toned bass-baritone, often singing in a very low tessitura, with Sam’s much brighter, lighter baritone which sometimes was well up in tenor territory.
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.
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
The full Ensemble Studio was on display yesterday for an all Russian lunchtime concert. First up was Megan Quick with a couple of Rachmaninov songs. Megan’s timbre is very dark and it seems to be a natural fit for those Russian vowels. She was followed by Bruno Roy with a couple of Tchaikovsky numbers. He’s come on a lot in his time in the Studio. There’s some heft to the voice now and some quite impressive top notes. Good stuff.