Yes, a real live concert at Koerner Hall; the first of 2022. Owing to the current restrictions it was quite a short concert with no interval (although the time it took the stage crew to set up for the second half there could have been!). The first piece was the premier of Goodyear’s Piano Quintet. It’s a very complex piece riffing off Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Stewart describes it better than I ever could:
“My piano quintet was commissioned by the Penderecki String Quartet (who played it with Stewart last night – JG) and the Canada Council for the Arts. It was composed in 2020 and pays homage to the spirit of Beethoven. The first movement is a passacaglia on the almost atonal eleven-note sequence from the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The second movement is a Ländler, fused with gestures of rhythm and blues and calypso. The third movement is a fast toccata, sampling themes of Beethoven similarly to a hip-hop track. The last movement starts as a lament and ends with a glimmer of hope, the inspiration directly taken from the challenges of the pandemic and the need for Beethoven’s spirit during these tumultuous times.”
It’s a highly virtuosic piece requiring a lot of extended technique from the players and it’s pretty demanding on the listener. I would need to listen to it a couple more times to really “get” it.
So last night’s Venice to Constantinople web cast didn’t come off due to the general inability of people to get together right now. However Beste Kalender and Ryan Harper did manage to produce a short video. You can see Beste singing a piano accompanied version of Hahn’s À Chloris followed by three songs by Komitas recorded by Beste with Sinfonia Toronto and Nurhan Arman. The three songs are Cinar Es (Tall as a poplar tree), Tahsin Incirci (Varna Songs) and Al Ayloughs (My Red Shawl). It’s a nice way to spend fifteen minutes. The video can be found here.
Mezzo-soprano Beste Kalender and pianist Rachel Andrist are performing on line on Tuesday evening (March 24th) at 8.30pm (Toronto time). The recital is titled A Spring Recital: From Venice to Constantinople and will feature music by F. Santoliquido, R. Hahn, G. Faure, H. Berlioz, Komitas and various Turkish composers. Recording will be by Ryan Harper Recordings.
The stream will be posted on Beste’s channel on YouTube at 8.30pm and should be up for a week or so for people in other time zones.
Eight drinkers singing. Or vice versa. I forget. Anyway, last night’s extravaganza from Tongue in Cheek Productions and Opera5 at Gallery 345 was a blast. The schtick was that eight people got to choose a cocktail and a related song set while the audience could purchase their choice(s) of the said beverages. There was a lot of clowning around and some very good singing all backed up by a very serious looking Trevor Chartrand at the piano. Continue reading →
Yesterday afternoon I attended the latest concert in the extremely well curated Mazzoleni Songmasters series at the Royal Conservatory of Music. This one featured soprano Joyce El Khoury and mezzo Beste Kalender in a program of French songs influenced by orientalism with some genuine Lebanese and Turkish songs thrown in for fun. Rachel Andrist and Robert Kortgaard were at the piano and, besides accompanying, gave us a couple of short pieces for four hands.
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.
Offenbach’s La belle Hélène, given in English translation, opened at Toronto Operetta Theatre last night. The production by Guillermo Silva-Marin is an uncomplicated and fast paced romp. There a few cuts. The scene with Orestes and his girls for instance is gone and the dialogue, as is the norm, is gently updated with a Facebook reference and an allusion to a certain orange real estate magnate.
In my April Round up I inadvertently omitted Toronto Operetta Theatre’s upcoming production of Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène which plays April 27th to 29th at the Jane Mallet. It’s a good looking cast including Beste Kalender, Adam Fisher and Lynn Isnar. Guillermo Silva-Marin directs and Peter Tiefenbach conducts. Those few days at the end of the month are insane but it’s probably worth trying to fit this one in.
Mercadante’s I due Figaro(1) is one of a number of operas that continue the story of Figaro, Almaviva etc into a third instalment. It sets a libretto by Felice Romani based on Les deux Figaro by Honoré-Antoine Richaud Martelly. It premiered in Madrid in 1835 but was lost for many years before being rediscovered in 2009 and given at the 2011 Ravenna Festival. Yesterday in got its Canadian premier at VOICEBOX:Opera in Concert.
Last night saw the culminating concert of the IRCPA’s Encounter program. It wasn’t exactly a competition as the winner of the Career Blueprint Award had already been decided but not announced. Still, it had the air of a competition with ten singers each offering an aria accompanied by the ubiquitous Rachel Andrist. It was also being broadcast live on 96.3FM so we got the full on Zoomerplex treatment which is not far short of having flashing signs that say “Applaud Now!!” It’s the price one pays for getting young singers media exposure I guess.
Best shot I could get. Most of the singers are visible.