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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 18, No. 4 December 2012

Concert Previews

by Joseph So / December 1, 2012

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Layla Claire

Ever since the 250th anniversary celebrations of Mozart’s birth in January 2006, January has become “Mozart Month” at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. This year, there will be many concerts, including two with COC Music Director Johannes Debus leading the TS forces, starring pianist Jeremy Denk playing the famous Piano Concerto No. 21, K. 467. It also features fast-rising Canadian soprano Layla Claire making a return engagement with the TSO, singing Mozart arias. Two performances on Jan. 9 & 10 www.tso.ca JS

Top on my list is Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at the Canadian Opera Company (Jan. 29 - Feb. 23), the first staging in a long 25 years. Given that 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of Wagner’s birth, it’s only fitting that Canadian Wagnerites get to see and hear this sublime work. It stars the great Canadian heldentenor Ben Heppner as Tristan, and the celebrated German soprano Melanie Diener in her first Isolde. American bass-baritone Alan Held is Kurwenal and Franz-Josef Selig is King Marke, with Czech conductor Jiři Bělohlávek at the helm. The cutting-edge Peter Sellars production with special video presentation by Bill Viola created a stir when first seen in Los Angeles in 2004 and subsequently in New York, Paris, and London. This will be the opera event of 2013. Not to be missed. www.coc.ca JS

The stunning pianism of the great Denis Matsuev will be on display in a recital on Sunday Dec. 2 at 7 pm at Koerner Hall. Ever since Matsuev won the 1998 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, he has become one of the foremost piano virtuosos of our time. He wowed audiences in his Toronto debut last year, so it’s good to have him back. On the program are works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Stravinsky. This is an exciting event for piano aficionados. www.rcmusic.ca JS

American soprano Angela Meade, winner of more competitions than you can count on the fingers of both hands – 50 in fact, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition s (2007) and the Montreal International Musical Competition (2009), is making her Toronto debut on Jan. 29 in Koerner Hall, singing the sublime Four Last Songs. This singer proves that at the end of the day, the most important thing in opera is voice, voice, and more voice! Also on the program is Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4. Marco Parisotto leads the Ontario Philharmonic. www.ontariophil.ca JS

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