2015 Vocal Seasonby Wah Keung Chan
/ September 1, 2015
Montréal’s opera season begins early with the Montréal Symphony’s concert version of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. After a highly successful Carmen at the Big O in August, Kent Nagano directs a star-studded cast of Canadians Hélène Guilmette (Mélisande), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Geneviève), and Philippe Sly (Golaud), along with Swiss tenor Bernard Richter as the tormented Pelléas. Sept. 8, 9. www.osm.ca
Montréal Opera opens with Puccini’s ever-popular Madama Butterfly with François Racine’s staging. American James Meena leads the Orchestre Métropolitain and an international cast, Melody Moore (Cio-Cio-San), Demos Flemotomos (Pinkerton), Morgan Smith (Sharpless), and Canadian mezzo Allyson McHardy (Suzuki). Sept. 19, 22, 24, and 26. Their November production of Richard Strauss’s Elektra features the return of the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin leading the Orchestre Métropolitain and Lise Lindstrom (Elektra), Nicola Beller Carbone (Chrysothemis), Agnes Zwierko (Clytemnestra), and Alan Held (Orest), with staging by company regular Alain Gauthier. Nov. 21, 24, 26, and 28. www.operademontreal.com.
In October, Opéra de Québec presents Mozart’s Magic Flute with Canadian tenor Pascal Charbonneau (Tamino), Argentinian baritone Armando Noguera (Papageno), and Australian soprano Elena Xanthoudakis (Pamina). Steven Fox conducts. Oct. 17, 20, 22, and 24. www.operadequebec.qc.ca.
While both Québec opera companies are scaling back this year (no December Galas for Montréal or Québec City), Ottawa’s Opera Lyra seems to be expanding with two main stage productions, one visiting production, one Ensemble studio production, and a children’s opera. The announcement of Tim Vernon as artistic director adds to the excitement. Rossini’s popular Barber of Seville opens the season with a young Canadian cast headed by conductor Giuseppe Pietraroia, Isaiah Bell (Count Almaviva), Marion Newman (Rosina), and Joshua Hopkins (Figaro). Dennis Garnhum provides staging. Sept. 26, 28, 30, and Oct. 3. Two weeks later, the company presents Toronto’s Essential Opera’s double-bill of two new operas by young Canadian composers: Monica Pearce’s Etiquette and Elisha Denburg’s Regina. Oct. 16, 17, and 18 (matinée). www.operalyra.ca
Montréal’s young companies are offering some interesting fare. The FestivalOpéra de Saint-Eustache is presenting the Québec premiere of Pauline Viardot’s Cinderella on Oct. 1st. www.festivaloperasteustache.com. Opéra Immédiat is presenting Verdi’s Aïda as a showcase for soprano Marie-Josée Lord as the Ethiopian princess. Éric Thériault takes on Radamès and Ioanna Touliatou, Amneris. Philippe Ménard conducts the Orchestre philharmonique des musiciens de Montréal. Oct. 17. www.opera-immediat.com.
Finally, for some lighter fare, operetta fans will have to go to Laval for productions of comic opera. Offenbach’s Les Brigands (The Bandits) is Opera Bouffe’s 2015 production. Simon Fournier conducts a local cast including Éric Thériault, Samira Tou, and Charles Prévost-Linton, with staging by Sébastien Dhavernas. Nov. 12, 13, 14m, 14, and 15m. www.operabouffe.org. Two weeks later, the Théâtre d’art lyrique de Laval puts on Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus under Frédéric-Antoine Guimond’s staging. Sylvain Cooke conducts a cast consisting of Millie Thivierge, soprano, Jean-Claude Boudreau, and Luc Major. Nov. 27, 29. www.theatreall.com
Recitals and Concerts
Ochestre Métopolitain led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin opens its season on an Austro-German theme culminating with Bruckner’s Second Symphony. Soprano Dorothea Röschmann performs Mahler’s Rückert Lieder. Sept. 20. www.orchestremetropolitain.com
Allegra celebrates its 35th year with an arrangement for strings and soprano of Mahler’s Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen from the same Rückert Lieder, featuring soprano Susie Leblanc.
The 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will be marked by a special concert, The Vocal Art of Armenian Composers. It features some of Montréal’s leading Armenian musicians, including Aline Kutan, Sasha Djihanian, and Armine Kassabian in a program of Armenian vocal and choral music. Sept. 27. www.mcgill.ca/music
McGill professors Michael MacMahon and baritone Gerald Finley are organizing a mini-festival Celebration of Art Song beginning with a Gala of distinguished McGill alumni including Tracy Cantin, Donna Brown, Julie Bouliane, Benjamin Butterfield, Joseph Kaiser, Philippe Sly, and Gordin Bitner on Oct. 23, a focus on Schubert on Oct. 24, and two masterclasses on Oct. 25 and 26. www.mcgill.ca/music.
Quebec City’s Club Musical de Québec begins its 125th year with Italian Luca Pisaroni in a recital of operatic arias and songs by Schubert, Bellini, and Tosti. Oct. 26. www.clubmusicaldequebec.com.
The Société d’art vocal de Montréal (SAVM)’s 17th season features two star recitals in the fall: soprano Lyne Fortin in a program of Massenet and Puccini arias (Oct. 19), and mezzo Susan Platts in Britten and Mahler songs (Nov. 29).
The SAVM continues its series of opera video projects at its Café each Saturday at 12:30 PM (repeated on Thursdays at 6:30 PM) beginning Sept. 12. www.artvocal.ca. More opera videos with commentary by musicologist Michel Veilleux can be found at Université de Montréal’s Opéramania series on selected Tuesday mornings (in UdM’s Longueuil campus) and Thursday evenings (in the UdM music faculty). musique.umontreal.ca.
The tenth season of the MET Live in HD Series begins with Verdi’s Il Trovatore (Oct.3), followed by Verdi’s Otello (Oct. 17), Wagner’s Tannhäuser (Oct. 31), Berg’s Lulu (Nov. 21), and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (Dec. 12) in cinemas across Canada. Check www.metopera.org for encores. The Paris Opera continues their screening at the Cinéma Beaubien, Cinéma du Parc, and Cinéma Le Clap (Quebec City) beginning with Show Boat (Oct. 25), La Vie Parisienne (Nov. 29), and Robbins/Millepied/Balanchine (Dec. 20). www.operadeparis.ca