La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 10 April 2011

This Week in Toronto (Apr. 11 - 17)

Soprano Sumi Jo
Photo courtesy of Askonas Holt

Sadly, the Roy Thomson Hall Vocal Series appears to have come to an end. I have been a subscriber since Day One, and every spring, we eagerly awaited the announcement of the program for the following season. This time around, the only subscription series appears to be the three-performance "Virtuoso" series that consists of Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra, pianist Yundi (Li) and a duo recital of tenor Michael Schade and baritone Thomas Quasthoff. I don't have the figures, but the Vocal Series at RTH lasted from the mid 1980s to 2011, with a brief hiatus of one or two years somewhere in between. The artists who appeared over the years as part of this series were some of the biggest names in the business - Kiri Te Kanawa, Montserrat Caballe, Mirella Freni, Jose Carreras, Cecilia Bartoli, Renee Fleming, Dame Gwyneth Jones, Barbara Hendricks, Salvatore Licitra, and Canadian stars the likes of Karina Gauvin, Gerald Finley and Russell Braun. We even got to experience Romanian diva Angela Gheorghiu who was just here last Thursday. Now Korean soprano Sumi Jo will be the last artist of this august series. She is of course no stranger to Toronto, having sung at Roy Thomson and other venues over the years. Jo will give a wide-ranging program that includes songs by Vivaldi, Paisiello, Gounod, Adam and Donizetti, as well as arias from The Tales of Hoffmann, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, and La traviata. Accompanying her on the piano is Gary Matthewman. Friday April 15 at 8 pm.

Women's Musical Club of Toronto has presented many wonderful Canadian artists over the years. This time around, baritone Russell Braun is bringing his interpretation of Schubert's great song cycle, Die Winterreise to Toronto. Actually he sang this at least once before in Toronto - I recall hearing him sing it at Jane Mallett Theatre about five or six years ago, accompanied by his wife, pianist Carolyn Maule. This time it will be the chamber version arranged by Normand Forget, with accordionist Joseph Petric and the Pentaedre Wind Quintet of Montreal. The concert takes place on April 14 1:30 pm at Walter Hall, Faculty of Music of the University of Toronto.

The newest operatic kid on the block, Wish Opera, is presenting its inaugural production, Rudolf Friml's famous operetta, Rose Marie. I recently interviewed founder of WO soprano Tonia Cianciulli for an article - According to Cianciulli, the mission of this new operatic venture is to combine the beauty of the operatic art form with fashion and design, in such a way that will appeal to contemporary audiences. Another goal of WO is to promote Canadian talent. With Rose Marie, it boasts an all-Canadian cast led by Quebec mezzo Maude Brunet as Rose Marie LaFlamme. Her love interest, English Canadian miner Jim Kenyon is played by baritone Todd Delaney. Kerry Stratton conducts the Wish Opera Orchestra. There are two performances, on Friday April 15 and Saturday April 16 at 8 pm, at the John Bassett Theatre in downtown Toronto.

On the Orchestral front, the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra under Quebec conductor Alain Trudel is presenting a very popular program of Gershwin, Copland and Dvorak on April 13 7:30 pm at the acoustically excellent George Weston Recital Hall in North York. The centerpiece is Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 "From the New World". Also featured is the Toronto Children's Chorus. On Saturday April 16, there will be two shows, The Stars of Tomorrow featuring young musicians. Once again Alain Trudel leads the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra. These two popular priced concerts take place at Roy Thomson Hall at 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm.



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