La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 13 June 2010

This Week in Toronto (June 14 - 20)

Janis Kelly in Prima Donna (Photo: Antony Crook)

Toronto's Luminato Festival of Arts and Creativity is in full flight this week, with a plethora of activities throughout the downtown core. There are several top attractions for classical music lovers. (If you missed Dark Star Requiem on the Opening Weekend, you can catch it on CBC2 on December 1, in conjunction with World AIDS Day) At the top of the list this week is Rufus Wainwright's Prima Donna. It stars Scottish soprano Janis Kelly in the central role of Regine Saint Laurent. St on Bastille Day, 1970, St. Laurent, an opera singer, is contemplating a comeback after 6 years. This is obviously inspired by the life of Maria Callas, and recalls (but not based on) Callas Forever, a Zeffirelli film starring Fanny Ardant and Jeremy Irons. The story of Prima Donna is also about her love affair with a journalist, sung by Canadian tenor Colin Ainsworth. Others in the cast include baritone Gregory Dahl and soprano Charlotte Ellett. British stage director and Toronto resident Tim Albery, who directed Goetterdammerung of the COC Ring, is the director of this co-production designed by Antony McDonald. It had its premiere at Sadler's Wells, Manchester International Festival and Luminato. This opera was originally commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, but the two parted company when the Met general manager Peter Gelb balked at the insistence by Wainwright that the opera should be in French. It had its world premiere last July in Manchester, with a subsequent performance in London. This will be its North American premiere. The opening is on Monday, June 14 at the Elgin Theatre, and it is sure to be a glittery event. Additional perforances are If you are a Rufus Wainwright fan, you can catch him in his one-man show, All Days are Nights/A Song for Lulu at the Elgin on June 15 and 17. At the Closing Weekend, there's Beethoven 9th ("Choral") Symphony from the TSO at Roy Thomson Hall. Billed as TSO Goes Late Night, the performance is at 11 pm, lasting approximately 60 minutes with no intermission. After the concert is a party in the lobby with live music, a chance to meet some of the TS musicians who will likely show up! For details and ticket information, go to

This is a busy week for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In addition to the Beethoven 9th at 11 pm on Friday, it is giving a performance on Wednesday at the equally unconventional time of 6:30 pm at the Roy Thomson Hall, followed by a second performance on Thursday at 8 pm. Peter Oundjian leads a quartet of soloists (soprano Marianne Fiset, mezzo Michele Losier, tenor Frederic Antoun, and baritone Brett Polegato). The Thursday performance has the bonus of pianist Stewart Goodyear playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19. On Friday, for a single performance, the TSO presents Ravel's Scheherazade with soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, who is Armenian, like the music director Oundjian. The program also features the music of Khachaturian (including three Armenian songs) and Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. Go to for details and ticket information.

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