La Scena Musicale

Monday, 3 June 2013

This Week in Toronto (June 3 - 9)

Violinist Joshua Bell makes a welcome return to the TSO

The big news on the classical music scene this week is the return of American violinist Joshua Bell to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. A frequent visitor, Bell will perform Ravel's Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra, and then he will join forces with bassist Edgar Meyer in the Canadian premiere and TSO co-commission Concerto for violin and double bass, an unusual combination!  The Ravel is a stunning piece with an extended unaccompanied violin solo in the beginning. I heard this played just two weeks ago in the Montreal International Musical Competition (Violin) Winners Concert. Peter Oundjian conducts. Rounding out the program are Copland's wonderful Appalachian Spring - is there a more archetypal piece of Americana? - and Respighi's Pines of Rome. This is a terrific program and well worth attending. Three performances on June 5, 6, and 8 at Roy Thomson Hall.  http://tso.ca/Home.aspx

John Malkovich appears in The Giacomo Variations (Photo: Show One Productions)

Svetlana Dvoraskaya's Show One Productions, together with Starvox Entertainment, is presenting The Giacomo Variations starring famous actor John Malkovich of Dangerous Liaisons fame.  This show represents a fusion of theatre and opera, based on the life of Giacomo Casanova, and the music of Mozart. Also appearing with Malkovich are Lithuanian actress Ingeborga Dapkunaite, German baritone Florian Boesch, and German soprano Sophie Klussmann, with Orchester Wiener Akademie conducted by Martin Haselboeck.   The show opens at Place des Arts in Montreal on June 4 and comes to the Elgin Theatre in Toronto for performances on June 7, 8 and 9 at 8 pm (extra performance at 3 pm on June 8) this week. http://www.showoneproductions.ca/event-details-191.aspx


Heather Ogden and Noah Long in Carmen (Photo: Sian Richards)

With the COC season over, the Four Seasons Centre has once again become the home of the National Ballet of Canada. It is presenting a full length version of Carmen. Originally presented in 2006 in a one-act version by Davide Bombana, he has now expanded it to a full-length work, set largely to Shchedrin's Carmen Suite as well as music by Bizet. Performances daily June 5 to 9 at the Four Seasons Centre.  Details at  http://national.ballet.ca/

Opera by Request, an artist-driven organization, is presenting Massenet's Manon in a concert performance on June 7 at 7:30 pm, at the College Street United Church. I had my first Opera by Request experience recently, when I attended the Wagner Birthday Celebrations at the Arts and Letters Club, courtesy of the Toronto Wagner Society. Three fine singers (tenor Jason Lamont, soprano Olga Tylman and baritone Will Lewans) together with pianist William Shookoff from Opera by Request performed a concert Act One Die Walkure, and it was an enjoyable afternoon hearing the divine score. Obviously operas are meant to be presented with orchestra, but I don't remember the last time the Massenet opera was put on by the COC, so this is likely the only chance one will get to hear this opera in the foreseeable future. Do give this group a try.


Domoney Artists Management, an up-and-coming management company representing Canadian classical artists under the direction of soprano Kathy Domoney, is branching out to include concert presentation with this show, The Star of Robbie Burns. On June 7th 7:30 pm at the Church of the Redeemer, actor RH Thomson, soprano Virginia Hatfield, baritone Benjamin Covey and pianist Melody McShane will be featured in a program of poetry and song, and there will be tea and shortbread, presumably at intermission!  Details at  http://www.domoneyartists.com/

Two artists new to me - American violinist/literary scholar Keir GoGwilt and pianist/poet/composer Matthew Aucoin join forces to present Wordless Dreams, a recital that features two Canadian premieres, a musical reworking of Beckett's television play Nacht und Traume inspired by the famous Schubert song, and Whitman Suite, from Aucoin's opera in commemoration of the Civil War. The program also includes Sonatas by Bach, Mozart and Bartok. Finally one of my favourite songs, Nachtigall by Alban Berg, one of the Sieben fruhe Lieder, arranged by GoGwilt. Normally sung by a soprano or mezzo, I assume the solo here is the violin. The full program can be found at http://the-coc.s3.amazonaws.com/pdfs/concert130604.pdf  Recital at noon in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre June 4. Be sure to arrive early to ensure a seat. http://www.coc.ca/Home.aspx

- Joseph So

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