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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 6, No. 9

Summer Operas in Toronto

by Joseph So / June 1, 2001

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T he summer is usually a slow time for classical music in Toronto, and opera is no exception. It has been many moons since the Canadian Opera Company staged a production in June. The Company is now in hiatus until a series of three Altamira Harbourfront Concerts in late August. Fortunately, for those suffering from opera withdrawal, there will be several opportunities to see performances provided by smaller companies in June and July.

Autumn Leaf Performance will present Kopernikus for a three performance run at the MacMillan Theatre, University of Toronto June 21,22,23 (Tickets: 416-872-1111). This international co-production has played to critical acclaim at L'Opera de Montréal, Banff Summer Festival, Musica Festival (Strasbourg, France), and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (England). Toronto is the final stop in its Phase 1 Tour. Kopernikus is a chamber opera composed for seven voices and eight instrumentalists by Canadian composer Claude Vivier (1948-1983). The story concerns Agni, a woman on the verge of transforming her life through her dreams, in which she encounters historical and fictitious figures: Lewis Caroll, Merlin, the Queen of the Night, Tristan and Isolde, Mozart, Copernicus himself and his mother, encouraging Agni to see life anew.

Following the successes of Beatrice Chancy and Sirens in previous seasons, the Queen of Puddings Music Theatre Company presents the world premiere of Echoes, "an emotionally haunting journey that embodies the music of Juhan Puhm, Harry Somers, Veljo Tormis, Manfred Trojahn, Gyorgy Ligeti, and Morton Feldman," performed by sopranos Jane Archibald and Tamara Hummel with pianist John Hess. Echoes explores the seasons ­ a metaphor for the cycle of life through death. With text drawn from poems in English, French and Estonian that reveal different images ­ morning, spring, light and life, autumn, darkness and death, it paints a luminous musical canvas. This work will have a three-performance run, on June 14, 16, and 17 at 8:00 pm at St. George the Martyr Church, 197 John Street, in Toronto (Tickets: 416-872-1212).

For the less adventurous, there is always the warhorse, Verdi's ever-popular Rigoletto, put on by Opera Mississauga on July 14, 17, 19, 21, at the Living Arts Centre, Mississauga, Ontario. Known for its conservative programming, Opera Mississauga often relies on imported voices interspersed with local talents. Casting for this production is not available at press time. For tickets, call Opera Mississauga at 905-306-0060.

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