La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 3 July 2011

This Week in Toronto (July 4 - 10)

Soprano Karina Gauvin opens the Elora Festival (photo: Michael Slobodian)

July is the month replete with festival activities, either in the GTA or within a comfortable driving for a day trip. Friday July 8 marks the opening of the venerable Elora Festival, with a presentation of Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G Minor and the Requiem K.626, with soprano Karina Gauvin, mezzo Jennifer Enns Modolo, tenor Christopher Mayell and bass Matthew Cassils. The concert takes place in their main venue, the Gambrel Barn. On July 9 at 2 pm at St. John's Church, Gauvin gives a solo recital. On the program are songs by Hahn, Bizet, Poulenc and Mozart. The Quebec soprano combines innate musicality, marvelous musicianship and a gorgeous crystalline lyric voice. Her appearances are always a joy for the audience.

On the subject of singing, on Thursday July 7 at 7:30 pm, the Brott Music Festival presents an evening of Opera Romance, with soprano Sinead Sugrue, mezzo Lauren Segal, tenor Ermanno Mauro, and baritone Peter McGillivray, in a program of arias and duets from I Pagliacci, Samson et Dalila, and others. The concert takes place at the McIntyre Theatre of Mohawk College, within a comfortable drive from Toronto.

Going in the other direction on the 401, the Westben Arts Festival opened last weekend with three performances of Britten's Albert Herring with the UBC Opera Ensemble. This week, on July 7 Westben presents Liszt In Song, with soprano Donna Bennett and pianist Brian Finley. Billed as a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Liszt, the title of the show is a little misleading, as the program consists of not just Liszt but Schubert, Schumann, Grieg, Massenet, Delibes, even Bernstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber, arranged by Brian Finley! Details at

In the GTA itself, the Black Creek Summer Music Festival continues with country western singer Brad Paisley on Thursday July 7 at 7:30 pm at the Rexall Centre. On July 9th Saturday 8 pm is The Very Very Best of Broadway with none other than Marvin Hamlisch and featuring a lot of stars including Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Canada's own Martin Short. I've so far attended two concerts there, and I must say the parking chaos that was evident in the opening show with Domingo has been fixed, although the tariff has gone up from $15 to $20. Still it is advisable to arrive early. And let's hope the weather will hold up, unlike the Tony Bennett-Diana Krall show that had to be cut show due to thunder and lightning, but such is the vagaries of concerts al fresco!

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