La Scena Musicale

Monday, 26 April 2010

This Week in Toronto (April 26 - May 2)

Soprano Serena Farnocchia (Photo courtesy of Atelier Musicale srl)





With the spring opera season in full swing, the musical offerings are varied and delectable. Top on my list is the opening of one of Donizetti's "Three Queens" - Maria Stuarda, at the Canadian Opera Company. This is the first fully staged production of this opera in Canada. It has a really great cast, headed by Italian soprano Serena Farnocchia in the title role. She was Luisa Miller for the COC, impressing everyone with her limpid, gleaming tone. She is also a wonderful Liu and Mimi, the last I heard her sing in Santa Fe in 2007. I look forward to her return. Also very special is the appearance of Bulgarian soprano Alexandrina Pendatchanska as Elisabetta. Saw her in Ermione and as Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito at Santa Fe some years ago. I was bowled over by her intensity and "take-no-prisoners" style of vocalism - a very exciting singer. Tenor Eric Cutler makes his company debut as Leicester. Antony Walker conducts. Opening night is May 1, and it promises to be an evening of vocal fireworks - not to be missed! In the mean time, the COC production of Der fliegende Hollander continues with performances on Wednesday April 28 and Sunday May 2. As well, Opera Atelier's English language The Marriage of Figaro will be at the Elgin Theatre on April 27, 28, 30, and May 1. I attended opening night and enjoyed the handsome production, clever staging and the fine ensemble singing. I am usually not one for operas sung in translation, but this very clever English translation worked well. This is a show well worth attending.

Elsewhere on the opera front, Toronto Operetta Theatre's Pirates of Penzance is not being presented this week as originally intended. Instead, the company is putting on a Gilbert and Sullivan Extravaganza on May 1 and 2. It features singers originally engaged for the cancelled show. The reason for the cancellation of the staged production is not clear. For details, go to http://www.torontooperetta.com/production_4.htm

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is putting on A Night at the Opera, a concert of operatic excerpts starring soprano Joni Henson, mezzo Lauren Segal, tenor Richard Margison, and baritone Doug MacNaughton. TMC specializes in oratorios and other choral works, and I can't remember the last time it puts on an operatic concert like this one. Noel Edison conducts the TMC Festival Orchestra. It takes place on Wednesday, April 28 at Koerner Hall. For more information, go to http://www.tmchoir.org/shows/nightOpera.cfm

The Women's Music Club of Toronto presents a recital of Schumann and Chopin by pianist Janina Fialkowska at Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building at the U of T Faculty of Music, on Thursday 1:30 pm. Fialkowska has had her share of career setbacks due to health issues, but now she is back. Find out more at her website: http://www.janinafialkowska.com/
Information on the concert can be found at http://www.wmct.on.ca/concerts.html

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting Mendelssohn and Mahler, a rather eclectic and unusual pairing, on Thursday 8 pm (repeated on Saturday May 1) at Roy Thomson Hall. On the program is Mendelssohn piano concerto No. 1 with pianist Anton Kuerti, and Mahler Symphony No. 7. Peter Oundjian conducts.

On Saturday 1 pm at selected Cineplex cinemas across Canada, the Met in HD is presenting Rossini's Armida starring American prima donna Renee Fleming. The Met mounts this production as a vehicle for Fleming. This is is hardly ever done, not just because it is so long - four hours, but also it requires five tenors! The Met has high tenors Lawrence Brownlee, Bruce Ford, and Barry Banks, so there won't be any shortage of stratospheric notes! I don't know about the ticket situation, but you might want to call the Cineplex theatres carrying the show. The encore performance will be on May 22.

Also on Saturday, Chinese pianist Yuja Wang is giving a recital of Schumann, Schubert, Liszt, Scriabin, and Prokofiev at 8 pm in the new Koerner Hall. Wang is now on the roster of Deutsche Grammophon and she is definitely a pianist to watch.

The Aldeburgh Connection presents a very intriguing concert on Sunday at 2:30 pm at Walter Hall. It is billed as City of Villages, a singer's tour of Toronto, with works by Wagner, Sullivan, Beckwith and Ross. The soloists are soprano Lucia Cesaroni, mezzo Allyson McHardy, tenor Lawrence Wiliford, and baritone Benjamin Covey. Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata will be at the piano as usual.

The Amici Chamber Ensemble's final concert of the season, Silenced Voices, takes place on Sunday May 2, 3 pm at Glenn Gould Studio. Baritone Russell Braun joins Amici in a moving program featuring the songs of Ukrainian composer Kyrylo Stetsenko and Amenian composer, Father Gomidas, plus chamber works by Gideon Klein and Erwin Schulhoff, all of them victims of genocide. Tickets are available at the Roy Thomson Hall box office. For more information, go to www.amiciensemble.com


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