La Scena Musicale

Monday, 22 July 2013

Cette semaine à Montréal : le 22 au 28 juillet

Concerts populaires de montreal – 49e saison
Attirant chaque année un public fidèle et enthousiaste, les Concerts populaires de Montréal auront lieu du 27 juin au 1er août. Ils présenteront à trois reprises l’Orchestre Métropolitain, sous la direction des chefs Julian Kuerti, Alain Trudel et James Darling. Ils recevront, aussi à trois reprises, La Sinfonia de Lanaudière, dirigée par Stéphane Laforest. Les mélomanes auront le plaisir d’entendre des solistes réputés, tels le ténor Marc Hervieux (27 juin), la soprano Lyne Fortin et le baryton Étienne Dupuis (11 juillet), la soprano Karine Boucher et le baryton Gino Quilico (18 juillet) et la violoniste Élaine Marcil (25 juillet). Porte-parole : Winston McQuade. Centre Pierre-Charbonneau, 19 h 30, 514-899-0644, poste 202.
- Renée Banville

Orchestre de la Francophonie : Série classique à Montréal
Dans le cadre de sa saison estivale 2013, l’Orchestre de la Francophonie présentera quatre concerts à Montréal. Le 24 juillet, le chef invité Douglas Pace Sturdevant dirigera l’OF à la salle Pollack. La direction musicale des concerts du 12, 13 et 14 août à la salle Pierre-Mercure sera confiée au chef d’orchestre de l’OF, Jean-Philippe Tremblay. Lors de ces concerts, vous aurez la chance d’écouter des solistes renommés tels Pascale Beaudin, Serhiy Salov et Élissa Cassini, et des solistes de la relève, tels Sheila Jaffe, Thomas Chartré et Philippe Prudhomme. Une œuvre du compositeur Frédéric Chiasson sera également créée en premièree montréalaise.

Concerts dans les parcs
Un grand choix musical est offert au public dans les parcs. En musique classique, mentionnons trois concerts au parc Garneau : le Quatuor de saxophones Nota Bene qui explore le répertoire sous toutes ses formes (4 juillet), Trente Doigts, un groupe de guitare acoustique (11 juillet) et le Trio Vincent Bélanger qui propose une sélection d’œuvres de divers répertoires, de Haendel à Morricone (25 juillet).
- Renée Banville

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This Week in Montreal: July 22 to 28

Concerts Populaires de Montréal – 49th year
Attracting a loyal and enthusiastic public every year, the Concerts populaires de Montréal will take place from June 27 to August 1. There will be three concerts by the Orchestre Métropolitain under the direction of conductors Julian Kuerti, Alain Trudel and James Darling, as well as three performances by the Sinfonia de Lanaudière under the direction of Stéphane Laforest. Music-lovers will have the pleasure of hearing acclaimed soloists such as tenor Marc Hervieux, (June 27), soprano Lyne Fortin and baritone Étienne Dupuis (July 11), soprano Karine Boucher and baritone Gino Quilico (July 18) and violinist Élaine Marcil (July 25).  Hosted by Winston McQuade. Centre Pierre-Charbonneau, 7:30 PM, 514-899-0644, extension 202.
- Renée Banville

Concerts in the Park
There is a great selection of music performed in parks this summer.  For classical music, we will mention three concerts at Garneau Park: the Quatuor de saxophones Nota Bene, which explores all kinds of repertoire (July 4); Trente Doigts, an acoustic guitar ensemble (July 11); and the Trio Vincent Bélanger, which offers a varied selection of works from Handel to Morricone (July 25).
- Renée Banville
Orchestre de la Francophonie: Classics Series in Montreal
As part of the 2013 summer season, the Orchestre de la Francophonie presents four concerts in Montreal. July 24, guest conductor Douglas Pace Sturdevant conducts the OF at Pollack Hall. OF conductor Jean-Philippe Tremblay provides musical direction for concerts on August 12, 13 and 14 at Salle Pierre-Mercure. At these concerts, audiences will have the chance to hear renowned soloists such as Pascale Beaudin, Serhiy Salov and Élissa Cassini, and upcoming soloists such as Sheila Jaffe, Thomas Chartré and Philippe Prudhomme. And finally, a Montreal premiere: a piece by composer Frédéric Chiasson.

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Sunday, 21 July 2013

Aix en Provence Elektra a Performance for the Ages

Review of Web-Stream on Arte:  Elektra / Aix en Provence
July 19 2013

by Joseph So

Waltraud Meier as Klytemnestra in Aix en Provence Elektra (Photo: Pascal Victor / Artcomart)

In this age of Regieoper, audiences are frequently confronted with productions seemingly designed for shock value rather than anything with musico-dramatic truth in mind. Instead of a director with the primary goal of illuminating the music and the text, we often get superfluous directorial whims that are willful and self-indulgent, distracting the audience from focusing on the music. So it is gratifying to encounter this new Elektra directed by the great Patrice Chereau. He is of course best known in the opera world for his Bayreuth Centenary Ring Cycle in 1976. It was a ground-breaking production that had its detractors at the time but has since become a classic. Following the Ring, Chereau's ventures into opera has been very infrequent, preferring to channel his creative energies into directing film and theatre.  That said, he did return for select projects, his most recent success was Janacek's From the House of the Dead six years ago. To that you can add this new Elektra as a production for the ages.

Evelyn Herlitzius (Elektra) and Adrianne Pieczonka (Chrysothemis) (Photo: Pascal Victor /Artcomart)

Unlike most Regie-inspired productions, this Elektra has no cutting edge stagecraft, no Expressionist symbolism, no nudity, no outrageous costumes, no extra non-singing characters added, and most importantly, no alterations (additions or subtractions) of the music and text. There's nothing bizarre or grotesque here, just a deeply felt re-telling of the tragic story. To that end, the set and costumes are very low key, even somewhat anonymous but perfectly in keeping with Chereau's vision. To be sure, there are a few unusual touches. After Orest murders Klytemnestra, she is brought onstage. When later Aegisth sees the dead Klytemnestra, he goes to her and cries "Helft! Moeder!" and he's stabbed, not by Orest but by his tutor, here sung by the 89-year old (!) Franz Mazura. At the end, Elektra does not drop dead on the ground as is typical of the staging (often based on musical cues), she remains seated and in a trance.  I would love to hear Chereau's explanation for his directorial decisions.

Evelyn Herlitzius is Elektra (Photo: Pascal Victor / Artcomart)

This production features an exceptionally strong cast led by German soprano Evelyn Herlitzius as a searingly intense Elektra. She is a name we don't hear often on this side of the pond, and it's a pity, as Herlitizius is one of the most compelling singer actors today. The voice may not be exactly bel canto, but her sincerity and commitment are never in doubt. In any case, a pretty voice with no expression is out of place in this opera. Herlitzius was stunning in the telecast on July 19th, indefatigable in this most grueling of dramatic soprano roles. The Recognition Scene was particularly gut-wrenching. She received a spectacular and totally well deserved ovation at the end. Another high profile principal is Waltraud Meier as Klytemnestra. She has gone from her mezzo beginnings to tackling zwischenfach roles like Sieglinde and Kundry, even Isolde. As a result, she lacks the contralto lows that would have given Klytemnestra more of a sense of authority in her confrontation with Elektra. Perhaps because of Chereau's vision, her Klytemnestra is formidable enough but elegant and understated - she's a queen after all. It doesn't have the grotesque histrionics one sometimes encounters in other productions. The third principal is Canada's own Adrianne Pieczonka. Singing Chrysothemis for the first time, Pieczonka showed that her gleaming tone and sympathetic stage presence is ideal as the healthy and "normal" sister, a perfect foil for the crazed Elektra.  Orestes is the eminent Russian baritone Mikhail Petrenko who was good but to be honest didn't quite rise to the level of intensity of the women.

Director Patrice Chereau with Roberta Alexander (Fifth Maid) and Sir Donald McIntyre (Old Servant) at Rehearsal (Photo: Aix en Provence photo-stream)

It is the secondary roles that makes this Elektra production special.  Where else will you find a performance of Elektra that features two Wotans (Sir Donald McIntyre and Franz Mazura), two Brunnhildes (Hertizius and Renate Behle), and two Sieglindes (Meier and Pieczonka)?  On top of that, you have the wonderful American soprano Roberta Alexander as the Fifth Maid - talk about luxury casting! Now 64 and with a face and body proudly showing the passage of time, Alexander sounds miraculously youthful. I have the greatest respect for Chereau for casting these old-timers. I think Sir Donald - the Wotan in the Chereau Ring - is singing the Old Servant with its two lines for old time's sake.  Having seen and heard these older singers many times in the past, it moved me tremendously to see them on stage again, sort of a symbolic passing of the torch to a younger generation. The Orchestre de Paris under the impeccable baton of Esa Pekka Salonen outdid itself; and the Gulbenkian Chorus was up to the task in a few brief moments of choral singing. This production is going to La Scala, Berlin, Barcelona, Helsinki, and the Met.  In the meantime, thanks to Festival d'Aix en Provence and ARTE, this performance is available for streaming from the website for the next 60 days.  Don't miss it!

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