La Scena Musicale

Monday, 17 June 2013

This Week in Toronto (June 17 - 23)

The ten-day Luminato Festival continues this week with a full slate of offerings. It opened last Friday June 14th with several important events, one of which was The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic, a Robert Wilson directed piece on the performance artist. The last performance is tomorrow Monday June 17th at the Bluma Appel Theatre on Front Street. On Saturday, I attended a talk given by Wilson and Willem Dafoe at the Isabel Bader Theatre last Saturday, moderated by New York Times journalist John Rockwell. This talk, together with ones involving Joni Mitchell, Atom Egoyan, and architects Liz Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, are billed TimesTalks Luminato, representing a new collaborative initiative between Luminato and the New York Times. Having heard Wilson's talk last year during Einstein on the Beach, I was looking forward to his inimitable wit and style this time around and I wasn't disappointed. And it was good to hear Dafoe speak about collaborating with Wilson and Abramovic.  
Willem Dafoe and Robert Wilson appear at Luminato TimesTalk with moderator John Rockwell

On opening day last Friday, I also attended Concerto for Piano and Pasteboards, a magic show at RCM's Mazzoleni Hall featuring Spanish magician Miguel Puga. A smallish crowd was thoroughly entertained by Puga who did magic tricks to the accompaniment of a pianist, complete with projections and light displays. One of the most intriguing offerings this week is Feng Yi Ting

a contemporary opera (with music by Guo Wenjing) that explores the Chinese tale of Diao Chan, one of the four beauties in Chinese culture. It's directed by Canadian filmmaker/stage director Atom Egoyan. Three performances at the MacMillan Theatre June 20, 21, and 22 at 8 pm. There will be a pre-performance talk at 7:10 pm. 

Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell (Photo: courtesy of Luminato 2013)

Perhaps the biggest headliner this week are the two shows of Joni: A Portrait in Song - A Birthday Happening Live at Massey Hall. This legendary Canadian singer/songwriter turns 70 this year, and to celebrate, Luminato is bringing together an all-star lineup of musicians and vocalists interpreting the songs of Mitchell. It has also just been announced that she will recite a new poem with musical accompaniment by her long-time collaborator, Brian Blade and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. These two shows are likely to sell out. June 18 and 19  7:30 pm at Massey Hall. 

The Mark Morris Dance Group

For dance fans, Luminato is presenting L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, an interpretation of the Handel oratorio by choreographer Mark Morris coupled with poetry by John Milton and paintings by William Blake. This fully staged piece involves two dozen dancers, a 26 member chorus, and four soloists (sopranos Karina Gauvin and Shannon Mercer, tenor Thomas Cooley and baritone Douglas Williams) and a full orchestra. Three shows on June 21, 22, and 23 (mat.). 
Toronto Symphony Orchestra

The Luminato Festival Hub is David Pecaut Square, right next to Roy Thomson Hall, the home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The TSO's participation this year is once again a free outdoor concert. Since 2013 is the centennial year for both Verdi and Wagner, the TSO will present a program of works by these two composers, plus a piece by Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer who turns 80 this year. Among the works to be performed are selections from Lohengrin, Tannhauser, La forza del destino, Die Walkure, Il Trovatore, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Nabucco, and the Triumphal March from Aida. David Pecaut Square is going to be packed so arrive early!

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