La Scena Musicale

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

This Week in Toronto (May 2 - 8)

Countertenor Lawrence Zazzo (photo courtesy of

The third production in the Canadian Opera Company's Spring Season opens on Sunday May 8th with a Baroque favourite, Gluck's enduring Orfeo ed Euridice. This production comes from the Lyric Opera of Chicago directed by Canadian Robert Carsen. In the title role is the sensational American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo who was Oberon in COC's A Midsummer Night's Dream two seasons ago. He has one of the most beautiful countertenor voices around. The Euridice is Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian. Meanwhile, performances of La cenerentola and Ariadne auf Naxos continue this week. The Rossini is enormously entertaining with the fabulous Ramiro of American Lawrence Brownlee, and the luscious-toned Angelina of Elizabeth DeShong. I saw the opening night of Ariadne, and sadly soprano Adrianne Pieczonka was indisposed. However we got a chance to hear the terrific voice of dramatic soprano Amber Wagner as Ariadne. Let's hope Pieczonka is well enough to sing the second performance. The Rossini is on stage Saturday May 7 at 4:30 pm, and the Strauss on Tuesday May 3 at 7:30 pm. For information and tickets, go to

Speaking of Adrianne Pieczonka, she will be giving an all-German Liederabend at Koerner Hall on Saturday May 7 at 8 pm. On the program are songs by Schubert, Strauss, and Wagner's Wesendonck-lieder. The Met's Brian Zeger is the collaborative pianist. Pieczonka previously gave the same recital in Quebec last summer, now we Torontonians will get to experience it. Not to be missed!

As if the presence of the many divas and divos at the COC is not enough, we are lucky to have Finnish soprano Karita Mattila making one of her rare visits to Toronto. She is soprano soloist in Toronto Symphony Orchestra's two concerts this week. The centerpiece is Sibelius' Luonnotar, Op. 70. Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, whose L'amour de loin will be seen at the COC next season, will be in Toronto for the Canadian premiere of her composition Laterna Magica. She has also written a piece for Mattila - Mirage for soprano, cello and orchestra. Cellist Anssi Karttunen is the soloist in Bloch's Schelomo, "Hebraic Rhapsody" for Cello and Orchestra. Rounding out the evening is Ravel's every-exciting La Valse. Finnish maestro Hinnu Lintu conducts. This is a rare opportunity to hear one of the greatest sopranos in front of the public today and is not to be missed.

One of Canada's finest baritones, Brett Polegato, will give a very interesting recital, Songs for a New World, as part of the COC Vocal Series on May 4 5:30 pm at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. On the program are songs by Schumann, Schubert, Vaughan-Williams, Ravel, Quilter and Finzi. Liz Upchurch is at the piano. Polegato is currently wowing audiences as Dandini in the COC La cenerentola, and now you have a chance to hear him free of charge! Be sure to line up at least 45 minutes ahead of time for a seat. You can download the program by clicking



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