La Scena Musicale

Saturday, 17 April 2010

This Week in Toronto (April 19 - 25)

The Flying Dutchman (c. 1896) by Albert Pinkham Ryder



The big news this week on the vocal front is the arrival of the spring operatic season. The Canadian Opera Company presents a revival of its production of The Flying Dutchman. This is the first opera conducted by Johannes Debus since his appointment as the COC Music Director. The title role of Dutchman is Russian baritone Evgeny Nikitin, who is making his company debut. All the other soloists are returnees to the COC – bass Mats Almgren, a wonderfully menacing Hagen, is Daland; soprano Julie Makerov, who sang the title role in Rusalka last season, returns as Senta; mezzo Barbara Dever, last heard in Eugene Onegin, is Mary; and Robert Kunzli, last heard in From the House of the Dead, is Erik. Tenor Gordon Gietz, originally scheduled as the Steersman, has been replaced by COC Ensemble tenor Adam Luther. For traditionalists, this production is controversial, but by Regietheater standards, it is quite mild. You can decide for yourself - the show opens on Saturday April 24 7:30 pm at the Four Seasons Centre. The opera is performed without an intermission. For ticket information, go to www.coc.ca If conceptual re-imaginings of Wagner isn’t for you, Opera Atelier offers a new but entirely traditional production of The Marriage of Figaro, sung in English. OA with its baroque sensibilities and historically informed stagings are always pretty to look at, with singers who can act and look believable on stage. The ensemble cast is made up of OA regulars plus two debutants. Baritone Olivier Laquerre is Figaro, and soprano Carla Huhtanen is Susanna.Frequent OA guest Peggy Kriha Dye is the Countess, with baritone Phillip Addis making his company debut as the Count. Rising mezzo Wallis Giunta is Cherubino. The Tafelmusik Orchestra is conducted by David Fallis. The show opens at the Elgin Theatre at exactly the same time as the COC Dutchman, with additional performances on April 25, 27, 28, 30, and May 1. Go to http://www.operaatelier.com/season/figaro.htm for information and tickets. Other vocal presentations include Native Earth/Indie(n) Rights Reserve’s Giiwedin which continues this week, with performances on April 20, 22, 23, and 24 at the Theatre Passe Muraille. For choral music fans, the Pax Christi Chorale presents the Mozart Requiem, a piece that I never get tired of hearing. Also on the program are motets by Bach and Rheinberger. Soloists are soprano Laura Albino, mezzo Julia Dawson, tenor Sasha Bataligin, and baritone James Levesque, under artistic director Stephanie Martin. The performances take place Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 3:00 pm at Grace Church on the Hill, 300 Lonsdale Road. For more information, go to http://www.paxchristichorale.org/ Duo pianists James Anagnoson and Leslie Kinton, faculty members of the Royal Conservatory of Music, gives a concert on Saturday, April 24 at 8 pm at the St. James Church in Caledon East. For more information, go to http://caledonchamberconcerts.com/
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Sibelius Festival continues this week with performances on April 21 and 22 at 8 pm in Roy Thomson Hall. On the program are Symphonies No. 5, 6, and 7. In addition, Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto plays Serenades for Violin and Orchestra. Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard leads the TSO forces. I attended the opening night performance last Wednesday. Conducting entirely from memory, Dausgaard showed impressive understanding of the Sibelius symphonies and fully justifies his reputation as a specialist in this repertoire. Under his baton, the orchestra played with exceptional clarity, precision, and remarkable lyricism. I wasn’t very familiar with Symphony No. 1 and didn’t quite know what to expect. Under Dausgaard, it was one continuous lyrical outpouring, making me wanting to revisit this work as soon as possible. The more familiar Symphony No. 2 can seem rather heavy along the line of Brahms and Bruckner, but Dausgaard’s conducting was well-considered and full of chiaroscuro, with a particularly luminous third movement and Finale. There was even an encore (Valse Triste), a rarity in symphonic concerts! Dausgaard began with super-hushed pianissimos, thankfully the boisterous, applause-minded audience quieted down quickly. It was a fitting end to an enjoyable evening. On Saturday April 24th 1:30 and then again at 3:30 pm, French Canadian conductor Alain Trudel leads the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra in Britten’s The Young Persons’ Guide to the Orchestra. Peter Oundjian is the narrator of this one. For more information and tickets, go to http://www.tso.ca/Concerts-And-Tickets/Events/2009-2010-Season/The-Young-Persons-Guide-to-the-Orchestra.aspx

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