La Scena Musicale

Monday, 27 June 2011

This Week in Toronto (June 27 - July 3)

Soprano Jessye Norman (Photo: Carol Friedman)

Now that the symphony, ballet and opera seasons have all come to a close, music lovers need not despair. The Black Creek Summer Music Festival (June 4 - Aug. 31) and the TD Toronto Jazz Festival (June 24 - July 3) are both in full swing. The jazz festival has been around since 1987 and is really an institution now. Of particular interest to opera lovers is the return of one of the biggest opera stars, Jessye Norman, to Toronto after an absence of many years. I remember hearing her in a recital at Massey Hall as early as 1978. Her voice was a force of nature and I remember sitting there in the audience, in total awe. After that time, I always seek out her performances. She has since retired from the opera stage, but continues to sing. She is now returning as a jazz vocalist. The concert takes place at RCM's Koerner Hall on Tuesday June 28 8 pm. The program is billed as A Celebration of American Musical Theatre, including songs by Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Rogers and Hammerstein. The second half is A Tribute to the Greats - Nina Simone, Lena Horne, Odetta, Ella Fitzgerald, annd Duke Ellington. Not to be missed if you are a Jessye Norman fan!

On Wednesday June 29 at the Rexall Centre on the grounds of York University, the Black Creek Summer Music Festival is presenting its second classical music blockbuster following the opening gala with Domingo and Radvanovsky. This time it is Music Inspired By Shakespeare, with conductor Lorin Maazel conducting his Castleton Festival Orchestra. Dame Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons will give spoken performances from Shakespeare. Musical selections include Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet's Fantasy Overture, and Incidental Music from Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Non-classical performances include Lionel Ritchie on Tuesday June 29 and Diana Krall on Saturday July 2. Details at

Last week, I mentioned that the adventurous Queen of Puddings Music Theatre is presenting a world premiere of a new opera by Ana Sokolovic, SVADBA_ Wedding. It has received excellent reviews by John Terauds at the Toronto Star and elswhere. Performances continue on June 28, 29 and 30 at the Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs.



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