La Scena Musicale

Monday, 13 October 2014

This Week in Toronto (Oct. 13 - 19)

My concert picks for the week of October 13 to 19 - Joseph So

Kelly Kaduce as Cio Cio San (Photo: Michael Cooper)

The second of two Canadian Opera Company's fall season productions, Madama Butterfly, opened on the long weekend at the Four Seasons Centre, with two alternating casts. I saw American soprano Kelly Kaduce give a stunning account vocally and dramatically as Cio Cio San. She was partnered by the ringing tenor of Andrea Care as Pinkerton. Canadian baritone Gregory Dahl took on Sharpless, and American mezzo Elizabeth DeShong was a fabulous Suzuki.  German maestro Patrick Lange led the COC Orchestra in a well paced, idiomatic reading of the Puccini score. I intend to go back to hear the alternate cast of Patricia Racette, Stefano Secco, and Dwayne Croft. Performances this week at Oct. 15, 18, 19.  Meanwhile, the critically acclaimed Falstaff continues with the great Canadian bass baritone Gerald Finley in the title role, with a single performance this week on Oct. 14.  Details at

The COC free concert series at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre this week features two interesting events - top on my list is a preview of the Opera Atelier's Alcina. OA is Canada's premier Baroque Opera company, and their historically informed productions are always visually wonderful. The cast of this Alcina is made up of COC Ensemble Studio graduates soprano Mireille Asselin, mezzos Allyson McHardy and Wallis Giunta, and baritone Olivier Laquerre.  The only non-alumna is Alcina herself, soprano Meghan Lindsay. This is bound to be an extremely popular preview, so be sure to show up early.

Canadian piano wunderkind Anastasia Rizikov

The other noon hour attraction is Canadian piano wunderkind Anastasia Rizikov playing works by Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff and Balakirev. This brilliant 15 year old has a technique and musicality that's remarkable.  October 15

Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz 

Pianophiles' cup truly runneth over this week, with the appearance of Polish pianist and 2014 Gilmour Artist Rafal Blechacz in recital at Koerner Hall on Sunday Oct. 19 at 3 pm, as well as Jean Efflam Bavouzet with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall. Blechacz is in town under the auspices of the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Canadian Chopin Society. The Polish pianist will play a program of Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin. 

French pianist Jean Efflam Bavouzet (Photo: Paul Mitchell)

London Philharmonic Orchestra is currently on tour, and will be at the Roy Thomson Hall on Oct 17 under the helm of conductor Vladimir Jurowski. Bavouzet plays the challenging Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3, and the centerpiece of the evening is Shostakovich Symphony No. 8. Performance on Friday Oct. 17 8 pm.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra goes pop this week, with vocal ensemble Rajaton performing Best of the Beatles under the baton of maestro Steven Reineke on Tuesday Oct. 14 8 pm and two shows on Wednesday Oct. 15 at 2 and 8 pm. 

Since Oct. 17 marked the passing of Frederic Chopin, there's a lot of his piano music being played this week. In addition to the Blechacz recital, the Canadian Chopin Festival is putting on a concert on that day featuring Canadian pianists Leonard Gilbert, Anastasia Rizikov and Li Wang. This concert marks the opening of the 2014 Canadian Chopin Competition. It takes place at the Polish Cultural Centre at 4300 Cawthra Road in Mississauga. For more information, call (416) 231-7709. 

Conductor Alex Pauk of Esprit Orchestra

The Esprit Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Alex Pauk, is presenting a concert on Oct. 16 8 pm at Koerner Hall. This orchestra is known for its innovative programming involving new music. It features works by Thomas Ades, Charles Ives, Paul Frehner and Chris Paul Harman.

Finally, a Chinese orchestra, the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra is performing at Roy Thomson Hall at exactly the same time. The Orchestra combines Chinese and Western instruments. I wasn't able to find program details, but on the Roy Thomson Hall website, it states the concert features music from "a program including the vast repertoire of Shen Yun's original music and celebrated classics from Berlioz and Dvorak."

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This Week in Montreal: October 13 to 19

Stéphane Tétreault

Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrrenden Gesellen
It’s rare to hear Mahler’s Song of a Wayfarer Lad sung by a woman, although Dame Janet Baker gave a brilliant account of the work. Grammy award winning mezzo Sasha Cooke takes on this song cycle with I Musici de Montréal led by Jean-Marie Zeitouni. Respighi, Ravel and Arvo Pärt round out the programme. Salle Bourgie. Oct. 16.
- Wah Keung Chan

Two Stéphane Tétrault Performances
Stéphane Tétreault: Carte Blanche. With pianist Michel-Alexandre Broekaert, Oct
18, Salle Saint-François Xavier, Prévost.
Turovsky Quartet Recital. Oct 19, St. Paul Anglican Church, Saint-Paul-d’Abbotsford.
- Caroline Rodgers

Belles Sœurs: The Musical
Montreal’s Segal Centre presents the English-language premiere of Belles Sœurs: The Musical. Based on Michel Tremblay’s Les Belles-sœurs, the darkly comedic, bittersweet play about working-class strife in Quebec, circa 1965, is the story of Germaine Lauzon, a Plateau Mont-Royal housewife who wins one million department store trading stamps. Musical mayhem ensues when she invites her closest relatives and friends to celebrate at a raucous stamp-pasting party. Les Belles-sœurs premiered in 1968, and the musical version debuted in 2010. The book & lyrics are by René Richard Cyr, and the music is by Daniel Bélanger. The English book adaptation is by Brian Hill, while Neil Bartram penned the English lyrics. Produced by Montrealer Allan Sandler, the show features an all-female Canadian cast. Oct. 19 to Nov. 9.
- Naomi Gold

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Cette semaine à Montréal : le 13 au 19 octobre

Trio Karénine

Trio Karénine – le Louvre hors les murs
La Fondation Arte Musica inaugure un programme d’échange permettant d’entendre certains concerts présentés au musée du Louvre. Fondé en 2009, le Trio Karénine porte le nom du célèbre roman de Tolstoï et réunit trois musiciens épris de littérature. Au programme : Dubois, Fauré, Ravel et Lili Boulanger. Salle Bourgie, 15 octobre, 19 h 30.
- Renée Banville

CIOC – le concours 2014 est à nos portes

Du 7 au 19 octobre, le Concours international d'orgue du Canada présentera 16 candidats de partout dans le monde qui auront l'occasion de remporter plus de 70 000 $ en prix. Parmi les 9 juges, on compte Olivier Latry, titulaire des grandes orgues de Notre-Dame de Paris, qui a participé au dévoilement du Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique de l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal à l'occasion du concert inaugural, le 28 mai dernier. Le concert d'ouverture du CIOC aura lieu le 7 octobre à l'église Unie Saint-James, avec Martha Wainwright, Jean-Willy Kunz et Christian Lane. Les lauréats auront le privilège de jouer sur le Grand Orgue au Concert Gala du concours le 19 octobre. Les épreuves se tiendront aux églises de l'Immaculée-Conception (8, 9, 10), Saint-Jean-Baptiste (13, 14) et à la basilique Notre-Dame (17). 
- Renée Banville

Le retour d’Onofri chez Arion
Très attendu à Montréal, le fougueux violoniste et chef invité Enrico Onofri vous fera vivre la contagieuse invasion musicale italienne à Londres. Coucou ! De délectables pages concertantes où chantent parfois coucou et rossignol, tantôt à l’orgue, tantôt au violon. Avec Hank Knox à l’orgue. Œuvres de Vivaldi, Avison, Corelli et Haendel. Salle Bourgie, 17 au 19 octobre.
- Renée Banville

Deux récitals de Stéphane Tétreault
Récital violoncelle et piano avec Michel-Alexandre Broekaert, pianiste. 18 octobre, salle Saint-François Xavier, Prévost.
Récital du Quatuor Turovsky, 19 octobre, St. Paul Anglican Church, Saint-Paul d’Abbotsford.
- Caroline Rodgers

Le Trio Pasquier au Ladies’ Morning Musical Club
Fondé en 1972, le Trio Pasquier est formé de musiciens français au sommet de leurs carrières de solistes et de chambristes: le violoniste Régis Pasquier, l’altiste Bruno Pasquier et le violoncelliste Roland Pidoux. Menant tous des carrières internationales de solistes, ils s’unissent dans des moments exceptionnels. Cette fois à la salle Pollack, pour leur 5e engagement au LMMC, 19 octobre, 15 h 30.
- Renée Banville

Hommage à Fritz Kreisler
Artiste d’une grande polyvalence, à la fois interprète et compositeur, Fritz Kreisler a su gagner le cœur du public par sa virtuosité époustouflante. Edwald Cheung, violon, et Philip Chiu, piano, défendront son répertoire aux mille prouesses musicales. Une présentation des Jeunesses Musicales du Canada, maison de la culture Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, 19 octobre, 16 h.
- Renée Banville

MET Live in HD
Dans le cadre de sa 9e saison, la série MET Live in HD diffusera, dans les cinémas du Québec, les opéras Macbeth de Verdi (11 octobre, rediffusions les 10 et 15 novembre), Les Noces de Figaro de Mozart (18 octobre, rediffusion les 6 et 15 décembre), et Carmen de Bizet (1er novembre, rediffusions les 29, 30 novembre et 8 décembre).
Justin Bernard

À la Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur
Né à Moscou et résidant au Canada depuis l’âge de 14 ans, Ilya Poletaev est considéré comme un des pianistes importants de sa génération. Après avoir enseigné la musique ancienne au Yale Institute of Sacred Music, il est nommé professeur adjoint de piano à l’École de musique Schulich. Au programme: C. P. E. Bach, Schumann, Dussek et Chopin. 19 octobre, 15 h 30.
- Renée Banville

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Sunday, 12 October 2014

Kelly Kaduce Supremely Moving as COC's Madama Butterfly

Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Review)

Joseph So

Kelly Kaduce / Cio Cio San
Andrea Care / Pinkerton
Gregory Dahl / Sharpless
Elizabeth DeShong / Suzuki
Michael Colvin / Goro
Robert Gleadow / Bonze
Karine Boucher / Kate Pinkerton
Clarence Frazer / Yamadori
Canadian Opera Company Orchestra / Patrick Lange, conductor
Brian MacDonald / stage director
Four Seasons Centre / October 11th 2014

Kelly Kaduce as COC Butterfly (Photo: Michael Cooper)

The Canadian Opera Company unveiled the second production of its fall season this weekend, Puccini's Madama Butterfly, one of the most beloved of all operas. According to worldwide statistics of five seasons from 2009/10 to 2013/14, the Puccini opera is ranked No. 6 in popularity among a total of 2581 works given, ranking it just below La traviata, Carmen, La boheme, Tosca and The Magic Flute, but ahead of such audience favourites as Barber of Seville, Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Aida. Butterfly's popularity is easy to understand, as it represents the Italian composer at his most melodically inspired, penning a score of glorious music framed by an intercultural love story that never loses its appeal. In the hands of a truly great singing actress, this Puccini masterpiece is the stuff of high tragedy.

In this Butterfly revival, the COC is blessed with not one, but two great singing actresses in Patricia Racette and Kelly Kaduce. Both are wonderful artists whose voice I am familiar with.  Tonight it was Kaduce weaving her magic as the tragic Geisha. I first saw her Cio Cio San in Santa Fe in 2010, in a production directed by Lee Blakeley.  I recall how struck I was with her characterization at the time - instead of a passive and demure Geisha, Kaduce's Butterfly is unusually youthful, headstrong, playful, defiant, extroverted and highly emotional in a heart-on-sleeve manner. It makes the finale all the more heart-wrenching - her death scene was among the very best I've seen. For me, Kaduce's characterization tonight is very reminiscent of the 2010 portrayal. Vocally it was also a tour de force, an impressive mix of power and nuance, with plenty of chiaroscuro. She gave generously and unstintingly with her voice. If one were to quibble, it was a little odd that in Butterfly's entrance scene, she unexpectedly skipped a whole line just before singing her D-flat, perhaps to prepare herself for the high option. She sang it powerfully and it was completely on pitch. Other than this little quirk, every moment of her performance was superb.   She was partnered by the Pinkerton of Andrea Care, who looked great on stage and whose big, bright, ringing tenor with its "money notes" was a real pleasure to the ear, even if he has a tendency to scoop, especially in the beginning.          
Kelly Kaduce (Butterfly) and Andrea Care (Pinkerton) (Photo: Michael Cooper)

The parade of great singing continued with the Suzuki of Elizabeth DeShong, whom Toronto audience will remember as a scintillating Angelina in La cenerentola here a few season ago. While Suzuki doesn't really offer the same opportunity for the mezzo to shine, DeShong took advantage of Suzuki big moments in Act 3, singing with a big, rich, thrilling sound, even from top to bottom, and acting with great depth of feeling. The fourth member of this superb quartet was Canadian baritone Gregory Dahl as Sharpless.  He sang with warm, sturdy tone and exuded the requisite dignity and empathy as the American Consul.  The supporting roles were all cast from strength, particularly the fine character tenor of Michael Colvin as Goro, a role he has sung to success at the English National Opera. Also impressive was the Bonze of baritone Robert Gleadow, and the Prince Yamadori of Clarence Frazer. Ensemble Studio soprano Karine Boucher made her COC debut as an uncommonly eye-catching Kate Pinkerton. German maestro Patrick Lange gave a well paced, idiomatic reading of the score, and the orchestra played beautifully, if a touch loudly in the beginning of Act One, momentarily covering Pinkerton and Sharpless.  The production, though over twenty years old and frequently revived, is holding up well, its use of muted colours and the evocatively painted backdrop remains timeless.   Under veteran Stratford stage director Brian MacDonald, there's nothing bizarre or earth shattering (which you wouldn't want!) in this Butterfly, only a healthy respect for the music of Puccini and the libretto of Illica and Giacosa.  As a longtime opera attendee, I've seen more performances of Madama Butterfly more times than I can count.  When it is as well done as this one, with a soprano possessing such vocal power and galvanizing dramatic intensity, one never fails to be moved by the genius of Puccini.  Ten more performances at the Four Seasons Centre (Oct. 15 to 31).


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