La Scena Musicale

Friday, 8 May 2009

This Week in Toronto (May 9 - 15)

Isabel Bayrakdarian

Photo: Dario Acosta


A concert of interest this week is the appearance of Isabel Bayrakdarian as soprano soloist with the Amici Chamber Ensemble, in a program of Schubert and Tango - talk about eclectic programming! It takes place on Sunday, 3 pm at the Glenn Gould Studio. (There is a pre-concert chat with host Keith Horner at 2:30 pm, so be sure to arrive early!) This is the Ensemble's last concert of the season. On the program are three Schubert pieces - Sonatensatz in B-flat Major D28, Notturno, Piano Trio in E-flat Major D897, and Rondo for Violin & Piano D895. I seem to recall that Schubert's Shepherd on the Rock was originally announced but it is no longer being performed - too bad. The Tango half of the concert features Bayrakdarian singing tangos from around the world, including pieces by Carlos Gardel, Astor Piazzolla, and Kurt Weill, among others. Members of the Amici Ensemble include Joaquin Valdepenas (clarinet), David Hetherington (cello), and its newest member, Serouj Kradjian (piano), replacing the retired Patricia Parr. Kardjian happens to be the husband of Bayrakdarian, and he is very much involved in the research and arrangements of a lot of the repertoire sung by Bayrakdarian, including the recent project of Gomidas Songs. Any performance by Bayrakdarian and Kradjian is a treat, so this concert is not to be missed!

On Saturday, the Met in HD wraps up with Rossini's La Cenerentola, starring the Latvian mezzo Elina Garanca as Angelica. She is currently one of my very favourite singers - a wonderful high mezzo with fabulous musicality and perfect technique, combined with personal beauty and alluring stage presence - what more does one want? Partnering her is American tenor Lawrence Brownlee. I've only heard him once, in the Montreal Gala about seven years ago, and he sings with bright tone and a stratospheric top along the line of a Florez. With the absence of the Peruvian in this Met revival, Brownlee is the next best thing. The opera also stars the inimitable Alessandro Corbelli. The show is carried in the usual Cineplex locations across Canada. For more information, go to http://www.cineplex.com/Events/MetOpera/Home.aspx Tickets can be purchased online at
http://www.cineplex.com/Events.aspx

The Canadian Opera Company continues with performances of La boheme and A Midsummer Night's Dream, now that Simon Boccanegra has concluded its run last evening. The Verdi was one of the best shows I have seen at the COC in recent years - its thirty year absence was worth the wait! I attended the opening night of the Britten, and was struck by the beauty of the production. Aesthetically it reminds me a little of the COC Pelleas. No, the music isn't easy, or even as accessible as early Britten like Grimes. It is a connoisseur's piece, and sadly like Pelleas last time, there was a substantial exodus at intermission. Too bad as they missed a scintillating Act 3 with its hilarious comic turn. Thanks to the youthful cast made up of mostly COC Ensemble artists, they managed to make it come alive.

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