La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 8 April 2012

This Week in Toronto (Apr. 9 -15)

Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky sings with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (photo: Joseph So)

Great week for classical music fans (and voice fans in particular)! Here are my picks:

The Canadian Opera Company's spring season opens with The Tales of Hoffmann. Americana tenor Russell Thomas shares the title role with Canadian David Pomeroy, while the three heroines are taken by three different singers - Erin Wall (Antonia), Andriana Chuchman (Olympia), and Keri Alkema (Giulietta). COC Ensemble soprano Ambur Braid takes on the silent role of Stella. The excellent mezzo Lauren Segal is Nicklausse, a role tailor-made for her. Canadian bass John Relyea, one of the best basso cantante in front of the public today, makes his belated COC debut as the three villains. COC music director Johannes Debus assumes his third assignment of the season. The production comes from Antwerp (De Vlaasme Opera). The show opens on Tuesday April 10 7:30 p.m. at the Four Seasons Centre. The second performance is on Saturday April 14 at the unusual time of 4:30 p.m.

Opera Atelier's spring presentation is Lully's Armide, opening on Apr. 14 7:30 p.m. at the Elgin Theatre. OA frequent guest American soprano Peggy Kriha Dye sings the title role, with Canadian tenor Colin Ainsworth as Renaud and bass Joao Fernandes as Hidraot. After the run, OA takes this production on tour to Versailles and the Glimmerglass Opera this summer. David Fallis leads the Tafelmusik forces. There will be a total of six performances beginning on April 14, followed by shows on 15, 18, 18, 20 and 21. Details at

Meanwhile down at King and Simcoe, the fabulous Verdi soprano Sondra Radvanovsky is appearing as soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in a program of Verdi and Tchaikovsky. She is singing the dazzling Bolero from I vespri Siciliani, and Tatiana's Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin. Also on the program is Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 "Pathetique". Italian conductor Gianandrea Noseda is at the helm. Two performances - Wednesday Apr. 11 and Saturday Apr. 14 at Roy Thomson Hall.

Canada's reigning prima donna Adrianne Pieczonka is headlining a fund-raiser for VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto, with Stephen Ralls at the piano. Joining them is the Ton Beau String Quartet. Concert takes place on Wed. Apr. 11 6 p.m. at the St. Lawrence Hall on 157 King Street East in downtown Toronto.

A short drive down the QEW is Opera Hamilton's Il Trovatore, starring Canadian tenor Richard Margison as Manrico. Leonora is soprano Joni Henson. Baritone James Westman sings Count di Luna and Emilia Boteva is Azucena. David Speers conducts. It opens on Saturday Apr. 14 7:30 p.m. for the first of a four-performance run. OH has moved to its new venue,, the Dofasco Centre for the Arts, a much more intimate hall than the cavernous Hamilton Place.

If you enjoyed the Max Raabe and Ute Lemper concerts at Koerner Hall, you are in for a treat. Canadian soprano-turned-jazz singer Adi Braun is starring in Noir: Kabaret at Koerner on Sunday Apr. 15 at 7:30 p.m. Adi is of course the sister of the celebrated Canadian baritone Russell Braun, and they are children of the great, late Canadian baritone Victor Braun. After starting out as an operatic soprano, Adi Braun has become an estimable jazz singer. She is programming songs made famous by Marlene Dietrich, Doris Day and Ruth Etting. Appearing with her are Jordan Klapman (piano), George Koller (bass) and Daniel Barnes (drums).

Catherine Wilson and her Ensemble Vivant makes a specialty of (among other things!) the music of Astor Piazzolla. They are appearing on Saturday 8 p.m. at the Glenn Gould Studio, in a program of music by Piazzolla, Romero, Nazareth, Guarnieri and others. For more information, go to



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