The Canadian Opera Company has just announced the 14/15 line up for the free lunchtime (mostly) concerts in the very beautiful Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre. Highlights, from my point of view, include recitals by Jane Archibald, Krisztina Szabó, Lauren Segal, Colin Ainsworth, Joshua Hopkins, Robert Gleadow, Barbara Hannigan and Ekaterina Gubanova. There will also be ten concerts by the Ensemble Studio plus the Quilico competition. The Canadian Art Song Project will showcase Allyson McHardy in a new song cycle by Marjan Mozetich. There’s also a themed series of concerts to commemorate anniversaries of the First and Second World Wars, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. This will comprise six concerts drawn from the Vocal, Chamber Music and Piano Virtuoso programs.
So what was I most impressed with on the opera and related scene in in 2013?
Big house opera
The COC had a pretty good twelve months. I enjoyed everything I saw except, maybe, Lucia di Lammermoor. Making a choice between Christopher Alden’s probing La Clemenza di Tito, the searing opening night of Peter Sellars’ Tristan und Isolde; the night when I really “got” why people fly across oceans to see this piece, Robert Carsen’s spare and intensely moving Dialogues des Carmélites or Tony Dean Griffey’s intense and lyrical portrayal of the title character in Peter Grimes is beyond me. So, I shall be intensely disloyal to my home company and name as my pick in this category the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Die Frau ohne Schatten. Wernicke’s production is pure magic and Anna Schwanewilms was a revelation.
Yesterday afternoon saw the final concert of the season for Off Centre Music Salon; the concert series organised by Boris Zarankin and Inna Perkis at the Glenn Gould Studio. This one, as the title suggests, celebrating philanthropy in music by putting together a concert of works by composers who were supported by patrons. It was very much salon style with many short sets by various combinations of performers. There was some instrumental music; an impressive performance of Khachaturian’s Toccata in E flat minor by twelve year old William Leathers, reprised later on accordion by Michael Bridge. Jacques Israelievitch and Boris Zarankin collaborated on a bravura rendition of Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne and Zarankin and Perkis gave their traditional one piano/four hands performance, this time an arrangement of Beethoven’s Egmont overture, which was received with enthusiasm.
Coming up on Sunday 28th April at 2pm at the Glenn Gould Studio is Celebrating Philanthropists in Musicwhereby Off Centre Music Salon concludes its 18th season, paying tribute to the philanthropists who stood in the shadows behind some of the greatest composers and supported their careers. The program will includes a variety of vocal solos and duets, 1 piano, 4 hands, and violin and piano, performing repertoire by: Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Poulenc, Debussy, Chabrier, Ravel and Stravinsky.
Performers include 12 year old pianist William Franklyn Leathers, baritone Peter McGillivrey, soprano Ilana Zarankin, mezzo soprano Lauren Segal, violinist Jacques Israelievitch and accordionist (I kid you not) Joseph Macerollo. They will be accompanied by pianists Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin.
Against the Grain Theatre have another hit on their hands. Joel Ivany once again successfully combines young talent, unusual repertoire and a funky performance space to create a brilliant evening of song and story. This time the space was a yoga studio on Eastern Avenue and the works on offer were the Kafka-Fragments op. 24 by György Kurtág and The Diary of One Who Disappeared by Leoš Janáček. Neither work was written for the stage but both were well suited to Ivany’s sensitive direction and Michael Gianfrancesco’s minimalist “sets”. Continue reading →
Last night saw the third performance in the current run of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann at the Canadian Opera Company.
It’s a peculiar work. It was Offenbach’s first and only foray into grand opera and he didn’t live to complete it. This leaves all sorts of performance issues regarding orchestration, sequence of the acts and spoken dialogue vs accompanied recitatives among others. The COC version uses the conventional act order; Olympia, Antonia, Giulietta, and recitatives with orchestral accompaniment which makes for a long night but is probably the best fit with director Lee Blakeley’s take on the piece, previously seen at Vlaamse Opera in 2000.