March 3rd and 5th, Opera York are presenting Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts. Details are here. Also on the 5th at 1pm Opera Revue are playing a new venue; The Aviary in the Canary District. (They are playing another new venue, Granite Brewery, on the 12th. Opera Revue your source for craft beer!) And the following night at 7.30pm it’s AtG’s Opera Pub at the Drake at 7.30pm.
From the 9th to the 12th it’s UoT Opera’s spring offering at the MacMillan Theatre. This year it’s Arthur (not George) Benjamin’s A Tale of Two Cities. Benjamin is probably the only opera composer to be shot down by Hermann Göring. I’m not sure what, if anything, that says about his music.
It’s that time of year when departing members of the COC Ensemble Studio give their farewell recitals in the RBA. On Tuesday it was the turn of Midori Marsh and Alex Halliday and they did it in style. The programme was interesting and the music making excellent. Although they alternated sets it’s probably easy to deal with each singer in turn.
Things are a bit sub fusc at the COC these days. The season reveal isn’t a glitzy gala with a big fight to grab the charcuterie. It isn’t even a 10am doughnuts and coffee presser in the RBA where the ghost of Robert Everett-Green could ask what happened to the promised new Canadian operas . It’s just an email arriving at the prescribed time. There isn’t even an embargoed press only version to let us get our ducks in a row before the broader public get the news. Such is life.
VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert presented Mozart’s early opera Lucio Silla yesterday at the St. Lawrence Centre. Inevitably it was in a much reduced version (the original is insanely long) coming in at around two hours and organised into two acts. Tis left the principals with maybe three arias each plus a few ensemble numbers. It was presented off book but with a very minimalist production; piano at the centre of an otherwise empty stage, some atmospheric projections, basic blocking and some sort of hybrid of costume and concert wear. It actually worked rather well. This is very much a “tell” rather than “show” opera and fancy scenic effects weren’t really required.
Yesterday’s free concert in the RBA featured the vocalist Rebanks fellows from the Glenn Gould School. There was some very classy and very powerful singing. We heard Hannah Crawford, fresh off her second place at Centre Stage, sing a couple of arias; “Pleurez, plearez mes yeux” from Masenet’s Le Cid and “Come Scoglio” from Cosí. There was some very considerable power on display here as well as accuracy and emotion. Definitely one to watch.
Veteran mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter appeared in recital at Koerner Hall yesterday afternoon with pianist Christopher Berner. The first part of the programme was some fairly gentle Mozart with some fairly light weight Weckerlin and one long Schubert piece; “Die Viola”. A short Mozart piano piece rounded out the programme. It was stylish, enjoyable singing but one felt that both choice of material and method of presentation were being chosen to conserve the voice. How would things go after the interval when three songs from Winterreise were promised?
Last night the Happenstancers presented another intriguing concert of chamber music titled Chimaera. This time it was in the excellent hall at 918 Bathurst. It was a clever conceit. There were three “sets” with each consisting of two contrasting works that were combined in different ways.
The pieces in the first set were played straightforwardly consecutively but consisted of the least familiar music; Julia Wolfe’s Reeling and the premiere of Nahre Sol’s Chunhyang. Wolfe is one of those young American composers who combine a conservatory training with a taste for minimalism and hard driving rock and, in the case of this piece, folk music. It’s scored for nine instrumentalists including electric guitar and drum kit plus lots of electronics. It’s really cool and reminds me of the most drunk ceilidhs I’ve ever been to. And that may be why I remember almost nothing about the second piece except that the composer (keyboards) was playing it.
Well it took me a while to get hold of a copy of the third of the Harnoncourt Mozart/da Ponte operas. It is, of course, Così fan tutte and like the previous two operas is semi-staged at the Theater an der Wien. Also like the previous two there’s about an hour documentary which in this case consists almost entirely of rehearsal footage. It’s well worth watching though there is some obvious overlap with the previous two and most of what I would say about it I already did in my review of Le nozze di Figaro which I recommend reading along with this one.