La Scena Musicale

Saturday, May 23, 2009

This Week in Toronto (May 23 - 29)

The bursts of musical activities this spring seem to be subsiding.  The Canadian Opera Company's mainstage season comes to an end this weekend, with the final performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream today. Tomorrow afternoon is the last performance of La boheme
For those who missed the showing of Met in HD La Cenerentola with the scintillating Latvian mezzo Elina Garanca, the encore performance takes place today, at 12:30 pm, at selected Cineplex theatres in the GTA. 

For something a little different, I can recommend the world premiere run of The Shadow, put on by Tapestry, with performances at the Berkely Street Theatre Downstairs from May 21 to 30. I attended the opening on Thursday and was thoroughly entertained. The Shadow is a morality tale with a twist. Set in Barcelona, a poor postman, Raoul (acted and sung magnificently by baritone Peter McGillivray) assumes the identity of a rich suitor to win the hand of a beautiful woman (Carla Huhtanen) by borrowing money from a loan shark, played by Theodore Baerg.  When he is unable to repay the loan, a shadow (sung and acted with striking effectiveness by countertenor Scott Beluz) haunts the poor guy. Set and costume designer Camellia Koo has come up with an ingenious unit set that captures the flavour of Barcelona, and the use of a turntable allows seamless scene changes.  The libretto mixes an essentially serious story with a surfeit of humour - some of which perhaps were unintended. The music is a little too percussion-heavy for my taste, but there were some lyrical moments.  The vocal writing is very challenging - for example, the main character of Raoul/Hernando goes from basso profundo low notes all the way up to falsetto highs.  The singers, especially McGillivray, gave their all on opening night, and their voices were almost too big for the intimate space of the Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs. It was a really enjoyable evening and I can highly recommend it.

And finally, you can catch the proceedings of the 2009 Montreal International Musical Competition (Chant 2009) right at your computer.  Espace Musique is carrying it live.  The semifinals started last evening, and continues today (Saturday) at 1:30 pm and 7:30 pm. Sixteen candidates, including six Canadians, are set to impress the judges.  Eight will go on to the two-day finals on Monday and Tuesday. You can follow the drama at

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