La Scena Musicale

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

This Week in Toronto (Sept. 19 - 25)

American mezzo Susan Graham makes her COC debut in the title role of Iphigenia in Tauris

Now that the warm and sunny days of the 2011 summer are but a distant memory, we can look forward to an equally spectacular fall season of delectable musical events. The Canadian Opera Company opens its fall season with Gluck's Iphigenia in Tauris, more familiarly known as Iphigenie en Tauride. It is led by American mezzo Susan Graham in one of her signature roles. Appearing with her are two of the best Canadian singers of today - baritone Russell Braun as Orestes and tenor Joseph Kaiser as Pylades. Braun has sung this role on a number of occasions, including opposite the Iphigenie of Graham in the Paris Opera production. Kaiser is making his role debut in Toronto. Spanish maestro Pablo Heras-Casado, who made a splash when he conducted Nixon in China last season, returns to the Company. It is directed by Canadian Robert Carsen in a production already played to great acclaim in Chicago, San Francisco, Covent Garden and Madrid. Much like his Orfeo seen here last May, Carsen's austere and aesthetically dark approach is devoid of the trappings of grand opera, focusing instead on the emotional core of the work. It promises to be a riveting evening at the opera. Opening night is Thursday Sept. 22 at 7:30, with the second performance, a matinee, on Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. The COC Free Noon Hour Concert Series at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre also begins this week, with a Meet the Young Artists Show featuring the 2011-12 edition of the COC Ensemble Studio. Four new artists join the Ensemble this year - mezzo Mireille Asselin, bass-baritone Phillipe Sly, intern coach Jenna Douglas, and pianist Timothy Cheung. Remember to show up an hour ahead for a seat.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra starts it season with a Shakespeare-themed concert, pairing Tchaikovsky's Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture with the world premiere of Larysa Kuzmenko's Behold the Night, a piece for children's chorus and orchestra, with text from A Midsummer Night's Dream. The famed Canadian Shakespearean actor Christopher Plummer narrates the text in Walton's arrangement of Henry V. TSO music director Peter Oundjian is at the helm, leading the Toronto Children's Chorus and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Two performances - Thurs. Sept. 22 and Sat. Sept. 24, 7:30 pm at Roy Thomson Hall.

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Canada's premiere period band, presents Music Fit for a King, a program of Lully, Babelon and Philidor. Four performances at Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, on Sept. 21, 22, 24, 25.

An intriguing event this week is the return of Canadian cellist Ofra Harnoy to the concert stage, after a hiatus of ten years. She will appear with pianist Anton Kuerti in the season opener of the Mooredale Concert's 23rd season on Sunday, September 25, 3:15 p.m. at Walter Hall, University of Toronto. This will be the first time these two artists perform together. On the program is Bach's Suite No. 3 for unaccompanied cello, Beethoven's Cello Sonata in A Major, Op. 69 and Franck's Cello Sonata. Details and ticket info at



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