La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 7 December 2014

This Week in Toronto (Dec. 8 - 14)

My Toronto concert picks for the week of Dec. 8 to 14 - Joseph So

Donnell Leahy and Family in a Celtic Christmas

For those interested in classical but lighter fare this Holiday Season, try Toronto Symphony Orchestra's presentation of Celtic Christmas: Donnell Leahy and Family, billed as an evening of fiddling, dancing, and story-telling. Juno winning Donnell Leahy is joined by his family and special guest Natalie MacMaster. TSO pops conductor Steven Reineke is at the helm; choral forces supplied by the Etobicoke School for the Arts Chorus. Tuesday Dec. 9 at 8 pm, and Wednesday Dec. 10 at 2 and 8 pm.

The King's Singers

Sadly, the recital by Italian tenor Marcello Giordani has been cancelled. It was already postponed from a year and a half ago, and there is no mention of any attempt for re-scheduling, so Toronto opera lovers will have to travel to New York and London to hear Mr. Giordani. However, there are other shows well worth attending, such as this King's Singers concert at Koerner Hall. On the program are songs for Christmas by Lassus, Byrd, Howells, Head, and Poulenc, as well as traditional Catalan folk songs. These guys always put on a good show!

Against the Grain Theatre's Uncle John (Photo: Brent Calis)

The eclectic Against the Grain Theatre and its Artistic Director Joel Ivany live up to their reputation once again in its latest venture with Uncle John, a re-imagining of Mozart's Don Giovanni. This was workshopped in Banff and is now ready for prime time. It has a youthful and engaging cast led by former COC Ensemble baritone Cameron McPhail in the title role.  The other, usual suspects, include soprano Miriam Khalil as Elvira, bass baritone Neil Craighead as Leporello, soprano Betty Wayne Allison as Anna, tenor Sean Clark is Ottavio, and bass John Avey as Commendatore, here called Michael "The Commander" Bridge.  I am really curious about this show!  It takes place at The Black Box Theatre at The Great Hall (1087 Queen West), a venue new to me, on Dec. 11, 13, 15, 17, and 19 at 7:30 pm.

Soprano Jean Edwards singing at the Arts and Letters Club, with Ruth Morawetz at the piano (Photo: Joseph So)

The Toronto Masque Theatre's  A Very Merry TMT Christmas this year marks the farewell of Calgary-born Canadian soprano Jean Edwards.  Jean made her debut as Gretel in Hansel und Gretel in 1947 (!) and she was also one of the two first Susanna's at the Canadian Opera Company's Marriage of Figaro in 1951. Shortly after, Edwards decided that having a family was more important than a career. She retired and raised a family of five boys. After a hiatus, Edwards returned to singing, with the Festival Singers and Toronto Consort, touring Europe, US and Canada. Soon to reach the grand age of 88, Jean, the "Granny Soubrette" as she jokingly calls herself, decided recently it's time to say goodbye to performing. You can read more about Jean at her website -  The TMT Christmas is an "old-fashioned seasonal celebration, masque-style."  Also appearing are soprano Lizzie Hetherington, mezzo Jessica Wright, violinists Kathleen Kajioka and Larry Beckwith, and pianist Christopher Bagan.The event takes place on Dec. 8th 7:30 pm at the atrium in The Shaftesbury at 21 Shaftesbury Ave. (near Summerhill Subway Station)

The singers-driven organization, Opera By Request, is presenting Luisa Fernanda.  This zarzuela is arguably the best known outside Spanish speaking countries and is often sung by opera singers. I saw this once a few years ago, with soprano Nancy Fabiola Herrera. Soprano Karla Berganza sings the title role and tenor Pablo Benitez is Javier. William Shookhoff is at the piano. Performance on Dec. 10 at 3 pm at the College Street United Church.

Trio D'Argento (l. to r. 

As part of its Discovery Series, Music Toronto is presenting the Trio D'Argento, made up of Sibylle Marquardt (flute), Peter Stoll (clarinet) and Anna Ronai (piano). They will be performing a program Beethoven, Ibert, Russell Peterson, plus a new work by First Nations composer Barbara Croall. Dec. 11 8 pm at the Jane Mallett Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre.

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