La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 5 December 2010

This Week in Toronto (Dec. 6 - 12)

Baritone Elliot Madore to receive ARIAS Emerging Artist Award

Soprano Renee Fleming returns to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on Dec. 8th 8 pm.

The big news for voice fans this week is the return of soprano Renee Fleming to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. If there ever is an All-American prima donna, it would have to be Fleming - rarely does one find such a gorgeous voice combined with the drop dead beauty she possesses. She is of course a frequent visitor to Toronto - if I were to venture a guess, I would say since around 1995 she has been here at least six times, maybe more. Just the Vocal Series alone she has appeared twice, and I recall her singing the opening concert of TSO conductor Peter Oundjian's first season. On the program are arias from Thais, Faust, La boheme (both Puccini and Leoncavallo), plus selections from Mahler's Ruckert Lieder. There will be several orchestral selections - all chestnuts: Overture from Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila, Prelude to Wagner's Meistersinger, and Overture to Forza. An evening with Renee Fleming is always an occasion, and this concert is very close to sold out, if not already.

The other offering from the TSO is young pianist Alexander Seredenko, winner of the 2009 TSO Piano Competition, playing Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1. Also on the program is Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5. As a bonus, the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra will also be joining the main forces to play selections from the Nutcracker. So this is a festive event for the season. Two shows - Thursday Dec. 9 at 2 pm and Saturday Dec. 11 at 8 pm. For ticket information, go to

Another very interesting event is the Opening Night of La Scala on December 7. It's a live transmission of Wagner's Die Walkure by satellite to movie theaters. This is coming to Canada courtesy of Emerging Pictures. It has been happening to selected cities in Canada the last couple of years already, although to my knowledge this is the first time in Toronto. It is taking place at the AMC Cinemas at Dundas Square in downtown Toronto. Because it is broadcast live, it starts at 11 am Toronto time! The show is 310 minutes long with two intermissions. The Wagnerites among us are sure to be excited by this, and I for one won't miss it. The great Swedish soprano Nina Stemme is Brunnhilde - I saw her in this role last June in San Francisco and she was phenomenal. She is also going to be the Brunnhilde in the San Francisco Ring next June. The Wotan is the Polish bass-baritone Vitalij Kowaljow, who is rapidly becoming the Wotan of choice for his fresh, youthful sound and appearance. Hunding is the venerable British bass-baritone John Tomlinson, whom I saw as Wotan in Bayreuth at the Kupfer Ring way back in 1990! Twenty years is a long time in a singer's life, so Sir John has migrated to the less demanding role of Hunding. The Walsung twins are New Zealand heldentenor Simon O'Neill and German mezzo (or soprano) Waltraud Meier. The conductor is Daniel Barenboim. Given the long history of the vociferous La Scala loggionisti lustily booing on opening nights, it will be very interesting to see what is the reaction this time around. Italian purists always grumble that opening night should be an Italian opera. This year it is once again a non-Italian show, so be there for the fireworks!!!

Elsewhere, the Art of Time Ensemble is presenting Shakespeare: If Music Be... Dec. 9 -11 8 pm at the Enwave Theatre at Harbourfront Centre. This Ensemble always has interesting and adventurous programming, and this time is no exception. This show combines music, dance, and theatre inspired by Shakespeare. The music are by Korngold, Prokofiev, John Cage, and Rufus Wainwright. There will be scenes from Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, and Romeo and Juliet. Andrew Burashko, Kevin Fox, and Erika Raum are the musicians. Go to for more information.

New Music Concerts is presenting a program in honour of the American composer Elliot Carlter's 102 birthday on Dec. 10 (introduction at 7:15pm, concert at 8 pm) at the Isabel Bader Theater at University of Toronto. He will be there to be interviewed by Paul Steenhuisen! This is an important event for fans of Carter and new music. For more information, go to

At exactly the same time (Dec. 10 8 pm), violinist Leila Josefowicz is appearing at RCM's Koerner Hall in a program of Brahms, Shostakovich, Stravinsky and Schubert. Also on the program is Conversio by Tuur. The violinist will be giving a masterclass at the conservatory theatre at 10 am on Friday. Admission is free for the masterclass. For more information, go to

Canadian baritone Elliot Madore, winner of the 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, will be awarded the ARIAS Emerging Young Artist Award. He is a member of the Met Lindemann Young Artist Program for the 2010-11 season. ARIAS, or the Canadian Opera Student Development Fund, is in its 63rd year. It has awarded over 900 scholarships to young artists across Canada over the years. ARIAS chair Arija Stiver explains: "Our goal is to ensure that with financial support of talented young people, opera in Canada maintains its trajectory of growth and that Canada continues to be recognized as a major presence on the opera stages of the world." Canadian audiences will have a chance to hear Madore, at T.O.S.C.A. (The Canadian Opera Scholarship Awards) ceremony including a regular concert will take place at Walter Hall, University of Toronto on Thursday Dec. 9, 7:30 pm. I have interviewed Madore and written a piece on him, but have yet to hear him in person. This Emerging Young Artist Award was announced at the annual Opera Canada Awards, "The Rubies" last Oct. 14, but Madore was not able to come. So I look forward to hearing him on Thursday. For more information, go to

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