La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 23 January 2011

This Week in Toronto (Jan. 24 - 30)

With the 255th anniversary of Mozart birthday on January 27, the various musical organizations are in overdrive with a huge array of performances featuring his work. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra continues its Mozart festivities this week with Peter Oundjian conducting two midweek performances. The so-called "Afterworks" Concert is on Wednesday at 6:30 pm., a time convenient to those who want to catch a concert right after work before going home. These concerts have a truncated program, and it is reflected in the reduced ticket prices. Pianist Jeffrey Kahane plays Piano Concerto No. 9. Also on the program is Symphony No. 34. The full-length Thursday concert takes place at 8 pm, and with the addition of Piano Concerto No. 22 and the Adagio and Fugue in C Minor. On the weekend are two concerts called "Mozart's World" - a program of light classics by Mozart and his contemporaries. In addition to the warhorse Eine kleine Nachtmusik is the Oboe Concerto in C Major, plus works by Haydn, Vandal and Salieri. Saturday show is at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. For program details, go to

The long awaited winter season of the Canadian Opera Company begins on Saturday with Mozart's The Magic Flute, in a series of twelve performances. Pamina is shared by sopranos Isabel Bayrakdarian and Simon Osborne, while tenors Michael Schade and Frederic Antoun share the role of Tamino. Russian baritone Rodion Pogossov, a wonderful Figaro several seasons back, returns as the bird catcher Papageno. Quebec soprano Aline Kutan makes her long awaited COC debut as Queen of the Night. The young Russian bass Mikhail Petrenko makes his company debut as Sarastro. COC Music Director Johannes Debus conducts. I attended one of the working rehearsals last week, and was very impressed with the charming production. Go to for dates and ticket information.

On the subject of opera, something a little different - Soundstreams is presenting Chinese composer Tan Dun's Ghost Opera, music inspired by ancient Chinese shamanism written for string quartet and pipa. This show is conducted by talented Vancouver conductor Leslie Dala. I recall attending a program of excerpts from Ghost Opera a few years ago at the Royal Ontario Museum and the striking music left a strong impression. This performance takes place at Koerner Hall on Tuesday Jan. 25 at 8 pm. There is a pre-concert chat at 7 pm. For details, go to

The Aldeburgh Connection is presenting A Shropshire Lad in Ontario, with tenor Michael Colvin and baritone Brett Polegato. This song cycle by Butterworth set to text by Housman was premiered by British baritone James Campbell McInnes who later immigrated to Ontario and became an important figure in Canadian music life. Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata preside at the keyboard. The concert takes place at Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building at 2:30 pm. For more information, go to

At exactly the same time this Sunday, Opera in Concert is presenting Haydn's rarely performed La Fedelta Premiata, with soloists Susanne Holmes, Farah Hack, Leslie Bouza and Graham Thomson. Ashiq Aziz, recently featured in Opera Canada, is the conductor. The concert takes place at the Jane Mallett Theatre. Details at

An easy 50 minute drive down the QEW is Opera Hamilton's winter offering, Popera, an "opera's greatest hits" concert starring an excellent quartet of Canadian singers, soprano Lyne Fortin, mezzo Allyson McHardy, tenor Gordon Gietz, and baritone Dan Okulitch, with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, plus the McMaster University Choir all under the baton of David Speers. On the program are selections from Otello, Le nozze di Figaro, Carmen, Tales of Hoffmann, Lakme, Tannhauser, La traviata, Le Cid, Tosca, Don Giovanni, Butterfly and Nabucco - how's that for a jam-packed program! There are also orchestral selections from La cenerentola, Luisa Miller, and I Pagliacci. The performances take place on Jan. 27 and 29 8 pm at the Great Hall of Hamilton Place. For ticket information, go to

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