Last night Confluence Concerts streamed their latest offering; a tribute to Henry Purcell, preceded by a pre-show interview between Larry Beckwith and Andrew Parrott. There was beautifully played instrumental music from Victoria Baroque, songs from Lawrence Williford and Lucas Harris recorded at the Elora Festival and a couple of interesting takes on If Music Be the Food of Love plus Two Daughters of this Aged Stream featuring Daniel Taylor, Rebecca Genge and Sinéad White plus instrumentalists from the UoT Faculty of Music Historical Performance Department. I was less taken with Duo Serenissima (Elizabeth Hetherington, soprano and David Mackor, theorbo). I can’t tell whether it was the recording acoustic or a diction issue but the words were pretty much unintelligible which is a big problem with Purcell!.
Toronto Operetta Theatre and Toronto Masque Theatre have announced their respective 2014/15 season line ups. TOT will present three shows. The first is a zarzuela; Federico Chueca’s La gran via. Jose Hernandez conducts and the cast includes Margie Bernal, Fabian Arciniegas, Pablo Benitez and Diego Catala. There’s one performance on November 2nd. The Christmas show will be Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. Singers include Lucia Cesaroni, Mia Lennox, David Ludwig and Giles Tomkins with Derek Bate conducting. There are six performances scheduled between December 27th and January 4th. Finally, and perhaps most exciting, is a revival of Victor Davies’ 2008 piece Ernest, the Importance of Being. It’s based on the Wilde play and will star Jean Stilwell as Lady Bracknell. Larry Beckwith conducts. There will be four performances on April 29th and May 1st to 3rd. All three shows will be directed by Guillermo Silva-Marin and will be staged at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. (www.stlc.com)
I had planned on giving Opera Atelier’s production of Lully’s Persée a miss but early reviews were positive and, more importantly for me, suggested there was something new and a bit different about the piece this time around. This production has been around since 2000 and was recorded for DVD four years later so I knew pretty much what to expect and to be honest that’s what we got last night. If there were changes, they were very minor. If anything it’s got even camper and I do wonder whether OA is in danger of becoming a sort of parody of itself. And it’s still three hours of OA doing Lully and if that’s your thing you will not be disappointed. If you are expecting anything else you won’t get it.
The third Canadian Art Song Project annual concert was given yesterday lunchtime in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. We were given four works; all by Canadian composers, and in a sufficient variety of musical idiom to make for a most interesting concert. Soprano Monica Whicher and pianist Kathryn Tremills gave us Dissidence (trois poèmes de Gabriel Charpentier) by Pierre Mercure. This 1955 work sounds rather like Ravel or perhaps early Poulenc with its symbolist poetry and rather literal musical setting. It sits very nicely for Monica’s voice though and she sang very beautifully. It seems not all modern composers hate sopranos.