La Scena Musicale

Monday, 20 May 2013

This Week in Toronto (May 20 - 26)

Baritone Gerald Finley sings Brahms German Requiem with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (photo:

The music scene this week is particularly rich in song, with a number of must-see events.  There are many wonderful baritones in Canada, but if I had to pick just one, it will have to be Gerald Finley, who combines a great voice with exceptional artistry. I try to catch his performances as often as I can, which is not enough!  I travel to hear him as he doesn't sing in Toronto very much. The last couple of times I heard him was at a Met Doctor Atomic and in the title role of Don Giovanni in the crazy 'container' production in Munich two years ago. So this three performances of Brahms German Requiem with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra represent a great opportunity to hear this singer in a repertoire that is perfectly right for him. Incidentally, he just finished another run of the Munich Don Giovanni last week, and he said that it was his last outing as the Don. He's retiring his Mozart roles and moving into Wagner. He has already sung Sachs in Glyndebourne and is slated to sing his first Amfortas. Also I understand that he'll make his long overdue debut with the Canadian Opera Company in a future season, in the title role of Falstaff. This is great good news for Canadian opera fans. Performances of the German Requiem are on May 22, 23, and 25 at Roy Thomson Hall. Conductor is Peter Oundjian. The soprano soloist is Klara Ek. A second work, Peter Lieberson's Songs of Love and Sorrow, is added to the Wednesday and Thursday performances. These are the "second" Neruda Songs, a follow up to the original ones Lieberson composed for his late wife, mezzo Lorraine Hunt. She passed away in 2006 after a long battle with cancer, and Peter Lieberson himself died of cancer in 2011. These performances of Songs of Love and Sorrow will be the Canadian premieres.

Bruce Ubukata and Stephen Ralls (Photo:

Well, this Sunday will be very sad for the legions of fans of the Aldeburgh Connection. A Time There Was, the third and last installment of their Britten Festival of Song takes place on Sunday May 26 at Walter Hall.  The event is not surprisingly already completely sold out. Soloists are soprano Virginia Hatfield, countentenor Scott Belluz, tenor Colin Ainsworth and baritone Geoffrey Sirett. They join members of the Canadian Children's Opera Company under artistic director Ann Cooper Gay, and Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata of course,  in an afternoon of Britten, to honour and acknowledge with thanks the "tremendous debt we owe (Britten) and his partner, interpreter and muse, Peter Pears, the Founding Patron of the Aldeburgh Connection."

A total of five members of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio will bid farewell this coming Thursday at a noon hour concert at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. They are sopranos Mireille Asselin and Ambur Braid, mezzo Rihab Chaieb, tenor Christopher Enns, bass-baritone Neil Craighead, and pianists Jenna Douglas and Timothy Cheung. These artists have contributed splendidly during their tenure at the Ensemble Studio and they have bright futures ahead of them. Particularly noteworthy are sopranos Ambur Braid and Mireille Asselin. Braid is now on the roster of Columbia Artists, and has been engaged to sing Violetta and Konstanze next season.  Asselin is leaving for the Metropolitan Opera in late fall as the cover for German soprano Christine Schaefer, as the saucy Adele in a new production of Die Fledermaus. Mezzo Rihab Chaieb and bass-baritone Neil Craighead shared First Prize at the Christina and Louis Quilico Awards just last week. On the farewell recital programs are works by Britten, Vaughan Williams, Honegger, and Barber. Full details at

 Soprano Mireille Asselin  

 Soprano Ambur Braid 
Mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb

Soprano Anna Christy (photo: Dario Acosta)

The lovely voice of soprano Anna Christy was heard in the COC Lucia di Lammermoor the past month. If you haven't heard her yet, you'll have two more chances this week. The ninth and last performance of Lucia is on Friday May 24 7:30 pm at the Four Seasons Centre.  You can also hear her for free, at the Tuesday May 21 noon hour concert at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. With Liz Upchurch at the piano, Christy sings a recital called Bel Canto Bliss, appropriately enough! On the program are songs and arias by Handel, Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Wolf-Ferrari, Bolcom and Copland.
Go to  for program details. As the opera season winds down this week, you can still catch the last Salome on Wednesday May 22, and three more performances of Dialogues of the Carmelites on May 21, 23, and 25.

Piano master Udo Steingraeber 

It was only a few weeks ago when Paolo Fazioli of the fabled Fazioli brand was in town to dedicate the new Fazioli grand at the Shangri-La Hotel.  Now, piano master Udo Steingraeber, of the equally legendary Steingraeber & Sohne, will be in town under the auspices of the Canadian Music Centre and Grand Piano House, Inc., in An Evening with Udo Steingraeber.  This German piano brand is nearly 200 years old. It was first introduced in Canada in 2009 and has since been used by famous musicians performing in town, such as Louis Lortie at Koerner Hall, Andre Laplante at the Glenn Gould Studio, and Valentina Lisitsa at the Lanaudiere Festival. The event will take place at the Canadian Music Centre on 20 St. Joseph Street in downtown Toronto. In addition to meeting Mr. Steingraeber, there will be a mini-concert by pianist Adam Sherkin played on CMC's Steingraeber & Sohne C-212 seven-foot grand piano. Wednesday May 22 6:30 pm. Full details at

- Joseph So

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home