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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Saturday, May 16, 2009

This Week in Toronto (May 16 - 22)

Scott Belluz & Peter McGillivray-The Shadow - (c) Meghan Hall
Scott Belluz and Peter McGillivray in The Shadow  (Photo: Meghan Hall)

After the burst of operatic and concert activities throughout April and early May, we seem to have entered into a lull this week.  Still there are a number of interesting events on offer, including the world premiere of
The Shadow, a new opera with music by Omar Daniel and libretto by Alex Poch-Grodin. It is presented by Tapestry New Opera Works, running from May 21 to 30 at the Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs (box office:: 416-368-3110). Below is a description of this new opera in the promotional material from Tapestry: 

A world of duplicity in which a humble postman assumes the identity of a wealthy suitor to win a woman's love.  Determined to maintain the ruse at all costs, he is haunted by the Shadow as he spirals deeper into debt.  Set in Old Barcelona, Alex Poch-Goldin and Omar Daniel have created a world premiere opera full of intrigue, desire and deception.    Director Tom Diamond and Music Director Wayne Strongman lead a stellar cast including baritone Peter McGillivray as Raoul, soprano Carla Huhtanen as Allegra and a comic turn by tenor Keith Klassen as the waiter.  Renowned Canadian baritone Theodore Baerg makes his Tapestry debut as the Don and Allegra's father and countertenor Scott Belluz is The Shadow.  Veteran Stratford Lighting Designer Robert Thomson and Set & Costume Designer Camellia Koo create a stunning visual world reflective of Gaudi's Barcelona. The Shadow was presented as a workshop production in Tapestry's Ernest Balmer Studio in March 2007.

For those yet to catch the COC's spring season, this will be the last week of La boheme and A Midsummer Night's Dream until May 24. An interesting event starting Friday May 22 is the Toronto Symphony Orchestra National Piano Competition. The first round of solo performances takes place at Mazzoleni Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music, 273 Floor St. West., Toronto.  Admission is by donation (suggested $10 minimum). 

While on the subject of competitions, I will be attending Montreal International Musical Competition is Voice Edition, Chant 2009, from May 19 to 28. Twenty-nine singers from nine countries (including eleven Canadians) have been invited to Montreal to participate in the competition. Among the jurors are Dame Gwyneth Jones, Tom Krause, and Sherrill Milnes. If you are interested in discovering new voices, this is the place to be.  If you cannot make your way to Montreal, you can follow the twists and turns of the drama right on your computer! Espace Musique of Radio Canada will offer live video and audio coverage.  For details, go to 

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