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Monday, 9 May 2011

This Week in Toronto (May 9 - 15)


Pianist Emanuel Ax (photo courtesy www.emanuelax.com)

















When it comes to classical music, the cup truly runneth over for us Torontonians this week. In a span of seven days, we get to experience five operas - three stage productions and two concert performances, three internationally ranked pianists, symphonic concerts, excellent choirs and chamber groups, two vocal recitals, plus a number of community-based music events.

I attended the Canadian Opera Company's third spring production, Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, which opened yesterday afternoon. Without exaggeration, it was a truly unforgettable experience. The power of Gluck's magnificent score, presented in a visually stunning production starring great singing actors led by the terrific American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo, under the inspired direction of Canadian Robert Carsen, left an indelible impression. This show continues this week on May 11 at 7:30 pm at the Four Seasons Centre.
Meanwhile, La cenerentola is on the stage of the FSC on May 10 at 7:30 pm, and Ariadne auf Naxos resumes May 12 and continues on May 15. The unusually long hiatus between the second and third performance of Ariadne allowed soprano Adrianne Pieczonka to squeeze in a Liederabend at Koerner Hall. Details and tickets at http://coc.ca/Home.aspx

The COC's Free Concert Series is presenting two vocal programs this week. On Tuesday at noon in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre is Sides of Us, a concert featuring tenor Richard Margison and his daughter Lauren Margison. On the program are jazz, flues, folk, opera and art songs! Christopher Mokrzewski is at the piano. There is a documentary highlighting Margison as a folksinger, and he is terrific! Program at http://coc.ca/ecms.ashx/pdfs/concert110510.PDF Be sure to line up an hour ahead for a seat. On Thursday, the COC Ensemble Studio artists present Serenata Italiana, a program of Italian songs. You can download the pdf file of the program here - http://coc.ca/ecms.ashx/pdfs/concert110512.PDF

In addition to the three staged operas above are two operas in concert with piano accompaniment. The Concert Opera Group - Artistic Director of U of T Music Professor Darryl Edwards - is presenting Tannhauser on May 13 7:30 pm at the Runnymede United Church. Considering that this Wagner masterpiece has never been seen on the stage of the COC, kudos to Edwards for bringing it to Toronto audiences! In the title role is veteran tenor J. Patrick Raftery, who also teaches at the Faculty of Music. Elisabeth is soprano Joni Henson. Peter McGillivray is Wolfram. Christopher Mokrzewski is at the piano. I wouldn't be telling the truth if I say one won't miss an orchestra - this is Wagner afterall! However, this represents a really good opportunity to hear this Wagnerian gem sung by Canadian artists. I am not sure if Raftery has sung Tannhauser before, but it is safe to say Henson and McGillivray are new to their respective roles. Unfortunately the Concert Opera Group website isn't functioning, but go to TO Tix for ticket information http://totix.com/

At exactly the same time is Opera By Request's presentation of Wagner's Das Rheingold, at the College Street United Church. Former COC Ensemble baritone Andrew Tees is Wotan, tenor Lenard Whiting is Loge, and music director William Shookhoff is at the piano. Go to their website for more information - http://www.operabyrequest.ca/index.htm

The headliner this week at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is the return of frequent guest pianist Emanuel Ax, in town for two performances of Mozart's Piano concerto No. 17 in G Major K 453. Also on the program is Strauss' Alpine Symphony conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. In town for the run of Ariadne, Sir Andrew is a superb Straussian and this is another chance to see him conduct. Performances at Wednesday May 11 at 8 pm and Thursday at 2 pm. On Saturday is Bugs, Birds and Butterflies, a children's concert. Details and tickets at http://tso.ca/Home.aspx

Svetlana Dvoretskaia's Show One Productions is presenting sensational Russian piano virtuoso Denis Matsuev at Koerner Hall on May 12 at 8 pm, in a program of Schubert, Beethoven, Liszt and Rachmaninoff. Matsuev is currently on tour and has just played Montreal. Details at http://www.showoneproductions.ca/

Long time impresario Ann Summers and her International Resource Centre for Performing Artists is presenting Opera Week Celebration Concert on May 11 at 8 pm at the George Weston Hall in North York. This is the culmination of a week of masterclasses given by Italian maestro Vincenzo Scalera and American coach Joan Dornemann to participating young singers. Details at http://www.sumarts.com/ircpa/news.html

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir under Noel Edison is presenting Mozart's Great Mass in C Minor on May 11 7:30 pm at Koerner Hall. Soloists are soprano Gillian Keith, mezzo Anita Krause, tenor John Mayell and baritone Thomas Goerz. Details at http://www.rcmusic.ca/ContentPage.aspx?name=home

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