La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 2 October 2011

This Week in Toronto (Oct. 3 - 9)

Opera Canada Awards 2011

Now in its eleventh year, the Opera Canada Awards, known as "The Rubies" after the late Metropolitan Opera soprano Ruby Mercer who founded the magazine 51 years ago, will take place on Wednesday October 5. Beginning in 2000 when the honorees were contralto Maureen Forrester, pianist Stuart Hamilton and philanthropist John Cook, the Rubies have paid tribute to individuals who have made significant contributions to opera in Canada, either as an artist, an educator, or a supporter/benefactor. Among the honorees over the years are Jon Vickers, Teresa Stratas, Ben Heppner, Nikki Goldschmidt, Lotfi Mansouri, Joseph Rouleau, and Mario Bernardi. This year, the three honorees are baritone Russell Braun, soprano/educator Nancy Hermiston and philanthropist Jacqueline Desmarais. American mezzo Susan Graham, in town for Iphigenie, is the Master of Ceremonies. Performing in honour of these individuals are soprano Simone Osborne, tenor Joseph Kaiser, baritone Phillip Addis, pianist Stephen Ralls, as well as ARIAS Emerging Young Artist recipient soprano Layla Claire. The black-tie event takes place on the 68th floor of First Canadian Place. As I understand it, the event is sold out but do call for returns at (416) 363-0395.

On the subject of opera, the Canadian Opera Company continues with its two productions this week - Iphigenia in Tauris on Oct. 4 and 7 at 7:30 p.m., and Rigoletto on Oct. 5 and 8. (Note that the Saturday Oct. 8 performance starts at 4:30 p.m.) As reported in the press, the Gluck is an unqualified success, with great singing and an evocative production. The Verdi also have great singing if a more controversial production - go see for yourself! The Free Concert Series at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre continues this week with two vocal concerts - students from the University of Toronto Faculty of Music under Sandra Horst and Michael Albano will be singing on Tuesday Oct. 4, while the COC Ensemble Studio artists will give a program of French Melodies on Thursday Oct. 6. Remember to show up an hour ahead to ensure a seat.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents a popular program this week of Hollywood Hits on Tuesday Oct. 5 at 8 p.m., and two shows on Wednesday 2 and 8 p.m. On the program are mega hits like Over the Rainbow, Moon River etc. Featured singers are tenor Hugh Panaro and soprano Jodi Benson under the direction of conductor Steven Reineke.

The University of Toronto Faculty of Music is presenting it U of T Symphony Orchestra in a concert featuring pianist Jacqueline Mokrzewski, winner of the UTSO Concerto Competition in Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major. Also on the program are Wagner's Prelude to Meistersinger and Cesar Frank's Symphony in D Minor. David Briskin conducts. The concert takes place on Thursday Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the MacMillan Theatre.

Note: In my haste of getting this entry done in time, I neglected to mention an extremely important concert - Prima Donna, celebrating 75 Years of CBC Radio. It took place Monday evening at Glenn Gould Studio, starring sopranos Isabel Bayrakdarian, Julie Boulianne, Marianne Fiset, and Aline Kutan, with the COC Orchestra conducted by Johannes Debus. I just returned from the concert, and it was truly fabulous. The concert was the creation of CBC Senior Producer of Classical Music Programming Neil Crory. And to top it off, the mystery guest of the evening was the great tenor Ben Heppner, who was in wonderful voice singing "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz". It was an evening to remember. This concert will be part of an 8 hour broadcast on Sunday October 30, 2001 on CBC Radio 2 and Espace musique. It celebrates the 75th anniversary of CBC Radio. Be sure to tune in!



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