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.
Last night marked the last performance I plan on seeing before the holidays so it’s time for the annual “best of” posting. So what did your scribe enjoy or admire the most in 2019? Let’s look at it by categories.
Fully staged opera with orchestra
The COC had a decent year but two of their shows stood out for me. David McVicar’s production of Rusalka in October was perhaps all round the best thing the COC have done in years. The production was clever in that interrogated the material enough to ask lots of questions for those willing to think about them without doing anything to upset those not so interested. Musically one really can’t imagine hearing Rusalka sung or played better anywhere in the world. The other winner was Elektra in January. The orchestra and the singing was the winner here, especially Christine Goerke, but the production was better than average and we don’t see enough of the great modern classics in the Four Seasons stage.
Last night’s concert at Koerner Hall was a celebration of the life and work of Armenian composer and song collector Komitas on the occasion of his 150th birthday. Unsurprisingly Koerner was packed with members of Toronto’s Armenian community. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable at events like this; unable to really appreciate what the music means in its home culture, but last night what I felt was joy and inclusion. It was an extremely well curated concert of rather beautiful music extremely well performed.