La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 11 November 2012

This Week in Toronto (Nov. 12 - 18)

Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka gives Masterclasses and Recital at University of Toronto (Photo: Andreas Klingberg)

For opera lovers, top on the list this week is the appearance of soprano Adrianne Pieczonka in her adopted home city of Toronto.  She is giving two masterclasses for voice students at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music Opera Division. On Nov. 14th 7 to 10 pm, the class is devoted to Lieder and Art Song, and on Nov. 15 12 to 3 pm the session is on Opera. The location is Walter Hall in the basement of the Edward Johnson Building at U of T. Then on Friday Nov. 16 7:30 pm, there will be a concert, An Evening of Song, featuring performances by voice students with Adrianne as the special guest.  All these events are free, and absolutely not to be missed!  For more information, go to  To me and to many opera lovers, Pieczonka is the reigning Canadian prima donna of our time - pace great divas the likes of Sondra Radvanovsky and Karina Gauvin. Having already had a 25 year career, Pieczonka is still at the top of her game and receiving glowing reviews, most recently for her Senta in Paris, Bayreuth and now Torino. Her December Christmas concert appearance in Hamilton with her partner mezzo Laura Tucker and the Hamilton Philharmonic is also well worth taking the trek along the QEW.  Further on the horizon is her first Madame Lidoine in Les dialogues des Carmelites for the COC in May. These are great opportunities to catch this internationally renowned singer at home.   Incidentally, last month Adrianne Pieczonka received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from her Alma Mater, University of Western Ontario, for her contribution to the world of opera and classical music. Here is a video clip of the Convocation ceremony and her address to the graduating class.

Canadian pianist Andre Laplante is soloist in Beethoven Triple Concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is offering Beethoven's Triple Concerto paired with Shostakovich's Symphony no. 12. The Shostakovich symphony, composed in 1961 - one year after the composer became a member of the Communist Party - was dedicated to the memory of Lenin. Its pro-Soviet theme was well received at home but less so in the West. Critics felt at the time it was among the composer's least successful work, but in recent years, the critical appraisal of this work has much improved.  In the Beethoven, violinist Jonathan Crow, pianist Andre Laplante and cellist Shauna Rolston are the soloists.  TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian, who has become quite the champion of Shostakovich, is at the helm. Two performances on Nov. 14 and 15  8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall. Following these concerts, the TSO takes this program on tour to Brockville (Nov. 17), Montreal (Nov. 18) and Ottawa (Nov. 19).
Noel Edison leads the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in Carmina Burana at Koerner Hall

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir under music director Noel Edison is presenting Orff's Carmina Burana in a single performance on Nov. 14  7:30 pm at Koerner Hall. Also on the program are two short works by Jonathan Dove and Eric Whiteacre. The soloists in the Orff are soprano Leslie Bouza, tenor Christopher Mayell and baritone Michael Nyby. I'll date myself with this comment, but throughout the 60's and 70's, this work was the poster-child of the counterculture, and rarely a month went by without it being performed somewhere, venue big or small.  Then it went into eclipse in terms of frequency of performance, but in recent years it has become popular once again. It's very accessible music, with a fascinating backstory to its genesis that makes this piece so appealing.

Young Canadian pianist Anastasia Rizikov plays Chopin Piano Concerto no. 2 with Sinfonia Toronto

The piano world is full of wunderkinder, and this week you'll get to hear one of them play - 13 year old Anastasia Rizikov is the soloist with Sinfonia Toronto at the Glenn Gould Studio. On Friday Nov. 16 8 pm, Rizikov plays the Chopin Piano Concerto no. 2, with conductor Berislav Skenderovic leading the chamber orchestra. Also on the program is Tchaikovsky's Serenade.  At such a young age, Rizikov is already concertizing widely and has won a number of international competitions, the most recent was the First Prize in the Rotary International Piano Competition in Mallorca, Spain in May 2011. This pianist is destined for a fine career in the future.
Canadian tenor Lawrence Wiliford sings Purcell with the Toronto Masque Theatre

Baroque fans rejoice - the Toronto Masque Theatre is presenting Fairest Isle: A Purcell Celebration on Friday Nov. 16 and Saturday Nov. 17  8 pm at the Al Green Theatre (Spadina and Bloor area). There is a pre-curtain chat at 7:15 pm on both evenings. Toronto Masque Theatre has previously presented five of Purcell's major works - Fairy Queen, Dido and Aeneas, Dioclesian,  Indian Queen and King Arthur.  According to the Company's website, this new show contains excerpts from Purcell's stage works with which is weaved the story of the composer's life and career, together with highlights of his church and court music.  It stars one of Canada's best young tenors, Lawrence Wiliford. Others in the show include sopranos Dawn Bailey and Michele DeBoer, countertenor Scott Belluz, tenor Charles Davidson and baritone Geoffrey Sirett. Derek Boyes directs and Marie-Nathalie Lacoursiere is the choreographer and dancer.

Off Centre Music Salon is known for its "music salon" series, a format that recalls the soiree musicales of a bygone era. This time, Off Centre is presenting American Salon: Syncopated City - the Magic of New York, featuring the music of Sondheim, Gershwin and Bernstein. Soloists include tenor John Easterlin (last in town as an excellent Tanzmeister in the COC Ariadne auf Naxos), sopranos Sarah Halmarson and Ilana Zarankin, and baritone Vasil Garvanliev. COC concertmaster Marie Berard is the violinist, plus pianists Boris Zarankin and Inna Perkis. Sunday 2 pm at the Glenn Gould Studio.

Last but not least, the ambitious Opera By Request is presenting not one but two operas this week - Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin (Friday Nov. 16) and Bizet's Pearl Fishers (Sat. Nov. 17).  The Tchaikovsky takes place at the Crescent School at Bayview and Lawrence, while Pearl Fishers is at OBR's usual venue of College Street United Church.  Both performances start at 7:30 pm and are with piano accompaniment.

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