La Scena Musicale

Monday, 11 June 2012

This Week in Toronto (June 11 - 17)

Gustav Mahler (July 7 1860 - May 18 1911)
















The Luminato Festival of Art and Creativity continues this week.  The Festival opened with an extraordinary production of Glass' Einstein On The Beach.  I know his music and Robert Wilson's mis-en-scene aren't to everyone's taste, but personally I found it fascinating.  I saw opening night on June 8, and for four full hours, I did not leave my seat once....deliberately holding back on fluid consumption the hours preceding helped!  Honestly it felt a lot shorter than four hours. I went in accepting the work on its own terms. I actually found it endlessly fascinating. No, I didn't liked everything, but it certainly left an indelible impression on me.  I also saw the delightful new Canadian children's opera, Laura's Cow.  It was absolutely charming and bursting with melodies.  There was also the TSO Late Nite Shostakovich Symphony 11 that I had to pass up because of Stewart Goodyear's Beethoven Marathon. This week of Luminato has less classical music content, but we can look forward to Symphonic Finale on the Festival Closing Night June 17 at 7 p.m. at David Pecaut Square, right next to Roy Thomson Hall. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra under the baton of its Music Director Peter Oundjian is playing a program of "classical greatest hits" that includes Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, a movement from Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 "From the New World", the 1812 Overture plus music from Lord of the Rings etc.  It is sure to be a rousing finish to this year's Festival. http://www.luminato.com/

In addition to its Luminato participation, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting a blockbuster this week, Mahler's Symphony No. 8, the so-called Symphony Of A Thousand.  It has an (almost) all Canadian cast - sopranos Erin Wall, Twyla Robinson (replacing an indisposed Adrianne Pieczonka), Andriana Chuchman, mezzos Anita Krause and Susan Platts, tenor Richard Margison, baritone Tyler Duncan and bass Robert Pomakov. Peter Oundjian conducts the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Mendelssohn Choir, the Amadeus Choir, the Elmer Iseler Singers and the Toronto Children's Choir.  Any performance of Mahler 8, with its gargantuan forces - ok, not quite a thousand but several hundred - is an occasion, so this will be an exciting event.  I understand it's always sold out, so do move fast. http://tso.ca/Home.aspx

Tapestry New Opera Works, known for its cutting edge - and often experimental - productions, is presenting two workshop performances of The Enslavement and Liberation of Oksana G., composed by Aaron Gervais with libretto by Colleen Murphy. From the composer's own website http://aarongervais.com/music/the-enslavement-and-liberation-of-oksana-g/ comes the following description:

I wrote this cham­ber opera for three singers and six instru­men­tal­ists in con­junc­tion with Colleen Murphy for Tapestry’s Opera To Go series. It tells the story of a young East­ern Euro­pean woman (Oksana) who has found her­self in the safe­house of an Ital­ian priest (Alessan­dro). She has escaped from a pimp (Kon­stan­tin), who tricked her into pros­ti­tu­tion, and now finds that she is falling in love with Alessan­dro. He in turn, despite his priestly call­ing, finds him­self tempted by Oksana. During this scene, they dance around the com­pli­ca­tions of their sit­u­a­tion, each one afraid to reveal him- or her- self to the other. In addi­tion, another prob­lem presents itself at the end of the scene.

Gervais is a SOCAN award winning composer and Murphy a Governor General's Award-winning playwright. The performances take place on June 11 and 12 8 p.m. at the Ernest Balmer Studio in the Distillery District of downtown Toronto. http://www.tapestrynewopera.com/

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