La Scena Musicale

Monday, 11 February 2013

This Week in Toronto (Feb. 11 - 17)

German bass Franz Josef Selig sings a recital of Schubert and Strauss (Photo: Anne Hoffmann)

The Canadian Opera Company's winter season continues this week with Tristan und Isolde (Thurs. Feb. 14 and Sunday Feb. 17) and La clemenza di Tito (Monday Feb. 11 and Saturday Feb. 16). Tristan has turned out to be the jewel of the crown in the COC season, thanks to the exceptional vocalism of Ben Heppner, and the wonderful playing of the COC Orchestra under the baton of COC Music Director Johannes Debus. Similarly, the singing in Tito is exceptionally fine. Tickets for the Monday performance of Tito are offered at reduced prices - call the box office or go online to for details.  Of particular interest to opera fans is the noon hour recital given by German bass Franz-Josef Selig on Tuesday Feb. 12, in a program of Schubert and Strauss. COC's Rachel Andrist is at the piano. Selig has one of the most impressive bass of our time, an enormous and imposing sound that is a cross between Rene Pape and Matti Salminen. It's not often that one gets to hear a bass voice in recital, so this is not to be missed.  On Thursday Feb. 14, to celebrate Valentine's Day, members of the COC Ensemble Studio and the OdeM Atelier lyrique join forces to present a noon hour recital Vive l'amour! This is a great chance for Toronto audiences to hear the Atelier lyrique singers. No program details of the two concerts are available on the COC website at this time. Both recitals at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre of the Four Seasons Centre. Be sure to show up an hour ahead for a seat.

Soprano Erin Wall leads a strong quartet of soloists in TSO's Beethoven 9th Symphony

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting a perennial favourite - Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, with a superb quartet of soloists, soprano Erin Wall, mezzo Allyson McHardy, tenor Joseph Kaiser, and bass-baritone Shenyang. Young British conductor Matthew Halls is at the helm. Three performances at Roy Thomson Hall, on Wednesday Feb. 13, Friday Feb. 15, and Saturday Feb. 16, all at 8 pm.

Gabriela Montero returns to Toronto for an evening with Music Toronto

One of the most unusual - and brilliant - classical pianists of our time is Venezuelan Gabriela Montero. Not only is she a superb pianist, her real-time improvisation based on audience input makes her a unique artist in the world of classical piano. Montero is making a welcome return to Toronto with a concert under the auspices of Music Toronto, in a program of Brahms and Schumann plus her trademark improvisation. Tuesday Feb. 12 8 pm at the Jane Mallett Theatre.

COC Music Director Johannes Debus leads the RCM Orchestra in Mahler and Handel

COC Music Director Johannes Debus is likely the busiest conductors around town. Not only is he leading the revival of Tristan und Isolde, he conducted a Mozart concert at the TSO in January and he's leading the Royal Conservatory of Music Orchestra in Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D Major, paired with Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks. Friday Feb. 15 at Koerner Hall.

For followers of the Met in HD events, this Saturday brings a new production of Verdi's Rigoletto. Director Michael Mayer resituates the story to Las Vegas in 1960! The is likely the boldest Regietheater yet attempted by the Met. Authentic? No.... Entertaining? Yes! Zeljko Lucic sings Rigoletto, Diana Damrau is Gilda, and Piotr Beczala is the Duke of Mantua. Be sure to consult your local Cineplex listing for show locations. The Met in HD sells very well in the Toronto area, so you may have to settle for the encore, but there are always returns.

- Joseph So

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