La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 28 September 2014

This Week in Toronto (Sept. 29 - Oct. 5)

This Week in Toronto (Sept. 29 - Oct. 5)

Joseph So

Bass-baritone Gerald Finley (Photo: Sim Canetty-Clarke)

Opera fans rejoice - the Canadian Opera Company's 2014-15 season is finally upon us! The first of two productions, Falstaff, marks the return to the COC of the great Canadian baritone (or bass-baritone as he is now billed) Gerald Finley. I would say he is currently the top Canadian baritone in the world today, combining an exceptionally beautiful voice with consummate artistry. This Robert Carsen directed show is a co-production with Covent Garden, La Scala, the Met, and the Netherlands Opera. The COC cast is proudly all Canadian. With the withdrawal of soprano Amanda Echalaz due to pregnancy, Alice is now Quebec soprano Lyne Fortin, making her long overdue debut at the COC - better late than never! Marie Nicole Lemieux is back with the COC as Dame Quickly, Russell Braun sings Ford, and Lauren Segal is Meg. Frederic Antoun and Simone Osborne are the young lovers Fenton and Nannetta. COC Music Director Johannes Debus conducts his first Falstaff. I went to one of the rehearsals and saw parts of Acts 2 and 3 - wonderful staging and singing. This is an absolute must-see this fall. Opening night is Friday October 3rd 7:30 pm at the Four Seasons Centre.

Also of note at the opera house this week is the appearance of young artists from the University of Toronto Opera Program in a noon hour concert at Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre on Thursday Oct. 2nd. The show is called Brush Up Your Shakespeare, and it features music from Handel to Broadway!  Here is the detailed program -  Be sure to show up early to ensure a seat. 

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents two performances of Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2, paired with the Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 with Khatia Buniatishvili as the soloist. Some of you might have seen her a few short months ago at a recital in Koerner Hall. Buniatishvili combines phenomenal technique with an arresting stage presence - definitely worth hearing.  Guest maestro David Zinman conducts. Thursday Oct. 2 and Saturday Oct. 4 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall.

Pianist Khatia Buniatishvili (Photo: Esther Haase/Sony Classical)

For something a little different, I can recommend the Soundstreams' new re-imagining of Vivaldi's The Seasons, re-composed by Max Richter, at Koerner Hall on September 30.  Violinist Daniel Hope is the soloist  As I don't think I can do justice to it with my own words, interested readers should look at the program notes by composer/broadcaster David Jaeger, posted on the Soundstreams website:  I can also recommend an article recently posted on Musical Toronto, John Teraud's old blog now being managed by composer-journalist Michael Vincent:

Violinist Daniel Hope (Photo:

Three more interesting concerts this week: Gryphon Trio at Walter Hall on Sept. 29 7 pm, playing Tchaikovsky Trio in A, Op. 50, and two new works, by Wright with mezzo soloist Julie Nesrallah, and U of T composer and faculty member Chan Ka Nin. 

The Amici Chamber Ensemble is playing on October 5th 3 pm at the Royal Conservatory of Music's Mazzoleni Hall.  The program is all Spanish music, by Albeniz, de Falla, Paco de Lucia, Guinovart and Lecuona.

Last but not least is the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra at the MacMillan Theatre on Oct. 2 7:30 pm. David Briskin conducts the UTSO in Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 Op. 64, and Grieg Piano Concerto with pianist Victoria Chang

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