Ridiculously short notice I know but VOICEBOX/Opera in Concert’ are closing their season with Verdi’s Stiffelio this afternoon at the St. Lawrence Centre. This 1850 workconcerns an adultery in the house of a Protestant minister and was so severely censored by the Italian authorities that Verdi withdrew it in 1856 and it’s rarely seen. VOICEBOX will present the scholarly edition prepared from the Carrara family MS in the early 90’s. It’s a concert performance with piano accompaniment featuring Ernesto Ramirez, Laura Albino and Geoffrey Sirett.
On Wednesday there’s a rare performance of Gagliano’s La Dafne by Capella Intima and the Toronto Continuo Collective. An ensemble of dramatic voices accompanied by lutes, theorbos, harpsichord and viola da gamba will present Ovid’s tale of Apollo and Daphne. It’s at noon and forms part of the COC’s free concert series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.
Finally, on March 3rd Toronto Masque Theatre is presenting a soirée on the history of the masque form. There will be panel discussions and performances by soprano Patricia O’Callaghan, guitarist Ken Whiteley and others. It’s at 7.30pm at 21 Shaftesbury Avenue, Toronto. Tickets are by donation ($20 suggested) and seating is limited so registration is required either online at torontomasquetheatre.com or by calling 416-410-4561.
Deborah Warner’s entry point to Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas is the, almost certainly apocryphal, story about it premiering in a girls’ boarding school. At various points in the action we get a chorus of schoolgirls in modernish uniforms commenting silently on the action. They are on stage during the overture, are seen in dance class during some of the dance music and queue up for the Sailor’s autograph. It’s quite touching and adds to the pathos of the basic, simple, tragic story. Warner also adds a prologue (the original is lost). In Warner’s version Fiona Shaw declaims, and acts out, poems by Ovid/Ted Hughes, TS Eliot and WB Yeats. These additions aside the piece is presented fairly straightforwardly in a sort of “stage 18th century” aesthetic. The witch scenes are quite well handled with Hilary Summers as a quite statuesque sorceress backed up by fairly diminutive (and, for witches, quite cute) Céline Ricci and Ana Quintans. Their first appearance is quite restrained but they go to town quite effectively in their second appearance.