La Scena Musicale

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Ballet dancing, from Ukraine to Houston - via Montreal - with love

By Naomi Gold

They almost didn't make it.  Just hours after Ukraine's National Ballet departed their homeland, the airport went into lockdown mode.  Luckily for us however, Ukraine's dancing gods cleared the runway for their finest dancers and Montreal's 137-year wait for La Bayadère was finally over. Their beyond breathtaking Bayadère was indeed a historic, tour-de-force production. Hyperbole is not redundant here.

Legendary ballerina Natalia Makarova, the troupe's stage director, along with artistic director Aniko Rekhviashvili led the Kyiv Ballet in delivering an absolutely awesome production of near-perfection. Whatever preconceived notions spectators had, going in to Salle-Wilfrid Pelletier, nothing could have prepared them for the majestic grandiosity and kaleidoscopic beauty of this truly larger-than-life Bayadère.

Encompassing the finest in classical dance, this ballet features a score by Ludwig Minkus, that intermittently evokes the melodious ingenuity of Tchaikovsky. Maestro Mykola Dyadyura, who accompanied the troupe from Ukraine, ably conducted the Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal Orchestra. Originally choreographed by Marius Petipa in 1877, La Bayadère tells the tale of Nikiya, an Indian temple dancer, and her ill-fated romance with the warrior, Solor.

Dancing the principal role with great élan, grace and agility, prima ballerina Olga Golytsia was poised to penultimate perfection. She evinced a paradoxical combination of dainty, diminutive elegance with brute Herculean strength.  Indeed, a quick scan of the corps de ballet revealed a curious phenomenon peculiar to the ballet world's greatest. These dancers with their deceptively delicate, skeletal bodies pack a massive horsepower punch of muscular strength and endurance.   

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal is in the midst of a triumphant triumvirate of shows this season at Place des Arts.   Having just bade a reluctant farewell to Ukraine's National Ballet, GBC is gearing up to dance Peter Quanz's Rodin/Claudel.  This work explores the personal and professional relationship between French sculptors Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel. It premières on Thursday, March 13th and runs for six nights on two weekends, plus one matinée on Saturday, March 22nd. Then, in early April, GBC welcomes a visiting troupe, this time from Texas.  The Houston Ballet will present Marie Antoinette, choreographed by Stanton Welch.  Another lavish production, with dreamy sets and costumes designed by Canadian Kandis Cook, this ballet traces the life - and death - of France's iconic queen. Music is by Soviet Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. The show débuts on Wednesday, April 9th, runs for four consecutive nights and features a 
matinée on Saturday, April 12th. Ticket prices begin at $53 for each production; or call PdA's box office @(514) 842-2112

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Monday, 10 March 2014

This Week in Toronto (March 10 - 16)

This Week in Toronto (March 10 - 16)

- Joseph So

This being Reading Week or Spring Break, the classical music scene around town is quiet, with Toronto Symphony Orchestra in hiatus and Royal Conservatory of Music and U of T Faculty of Music in reduced schedule, presumably to accommodate musicians (and audiences?) with family and kids who will be out of school.  Frankly I've often thought this practice to be rather illogical - surely only a minority of Toronto music lovers are actually leaving town, and what better time to enjoy some beautiful music than during Spring Break? No matter - there are still enough concerts by fine artists to satisfy the discriminating music lover.

Cecilia String Quartet

The Cecilia String Quartet with guests soprano Stacie Dunlop and cellist Shauna Ralston is appearing at Walter Hall in a program of Schoenberg and Schubert. Concert is on Monday March 10 7 pm.  For more information, go to  This fine group was featured in a cover story of The Music Scene, the sister publication of La Scena Musicale a couple of seasons ago. Here is the link to a pdf file -

Pianist David Jalbert, together with violinist Jasper Wood and celleist Yegor Dyachkov, and the three members of Trio Forte. Their CD of Ravel, Ives and Shostakovich on the ATMA label has won the 2014 Prix Opus for Album of the Year.  Mr. Jalbert is in town this week under the auspices of Music Toronto for a recital of Bach's Goldberg Variations. The date is Tuesday March 11 8 pm at Jane Mallett Theatre. For more information, go to and to the artist's website

Pianist David Jalbert

If you haven't caught Tafelmusik's presentation of The Four Seasons: A Cycle of the Sun, there is still time. The concert is repeated this week on March 11 8 pm and 12 7 pm at its home theatre of Trinity St. Paul Centre.  The program is an eclectic mix of Baroque (Vivaldi) and non-western (Chinese pipa, Indian sarangi and Inuit throat singing)! Don't miss this interesting program.

While the Canadian Opera Company is in hiatus and the Four Seasons Centre is currently taken over by the National Ballet of Canada, the COC free noon hour series continues with an intriguing event billed Opera Interactive, featuring soprano Kyra Millan and artists of the COC Ensemble Studio (mezzo Danielle MacMillan, tenor Owen McCausland, and pianists Timothy Cheung and Christina Faye.) This is obviously designed for young people to coincide with Spring Break. Complete program at  Concert at noon on March 13 at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. Be sure to show up an hour early for a seat.

Pianist Guillermo Gonzalez

Toronto’s Mooredale Concerts presents the Canadian debut of internationally celebrated Spanish pianist Guillermo González, playing his country’s greatest masterwork for the piano - the entire Iberia Suite by Isaac Albéniz, a nearly 90-minute work of singularly demanding virtuosity. The recital takes place on Sunday March 16 3:15 pm at Walter Hall on the campus of the University of Toronto. The score is Gonzalez's own edited version, now considered the definitive source for the performance of this work. For ticket information, go to 

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Sunday, 9 March 2014

Cette semaine à Montréal : le 10 au 16 mars

Le chef invité Julian Kuerti retrouve l’orchestre pour une soirée haute en couleur. On y entendra les Danses symphoniques de Rachmaninov, deux extraits du Roméo et Juliette de Berlioz ainsi que la première symphonie d’Éric Champagne, l’œuvre la plus importante à ce jour du compositeur en résidence pour la deuxième année à l’OM. Maison symphonique, 14 mars, 19 h 30.
Ce concert et celui du 9 février, à la mémoire de Richard Strauss, seront présentés dans les arrondissements.
 - Renée Banville

Jaap ter Linden sera le chef invité du Monde de Mozart, où l’impétueuse violoniste Cecilia Bernardini se délectera des chefs-d’œuvre du compositeur, ainsi que ceux de Fränzl et Vanhal, tous deux admirés du maître lui-même. Salle Bourgie, 14-15-16 mars.
 - Renée Banville

Présentée à la Maison symphonique, la série Pierre-Rolland vous offre les plus grands interprètes de la musique de chambre. Le Quatuor à cordes Artemis s’y produira le 17 mars à 20 h. Au programme: Mozart, Bartók et Beethoven.
 - Renée Banville

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