May 22: Toronto classical concert highlights for the next six days

The production may be controversial, but everyone agrees on the glory of Jane Archibald as Semele at COC.


  • There is one, last opportunity to catch the excellent double bill of A Florentine Tragedy and Gianni Schicchi, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, on Friday, at 7:30 p.m. (Production and ticket details here; my review here.)
  • As has been the custom for the past three seasons, the COC Ensemble Studio singers take over a mainstage production for one night. This year, it’s Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. performance on Handel’s Semele. Specially priced tickets are $22 and $55 (details here).
  • The season-closing production of Semele has polarized audiences into either rapturous love or venomous hate. But one thing everyone agrees on is the spectacular dramatic and vocal prowess of Truro, N.S.-born soprano Jane Archibald in the title role. If you want to experience what all the fuss — pro and con — is about, there are three performances left with the main cast, Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday at 4:30 p.m. (Details here; my review here.)


  • Toronto Mendelssohn Choir at Koerner Hall, 7:30 p.m.

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir never stints on its season-closing concert. This year’s promises to be particularly fine, featuring three powerful, great choral works of the 20th century, William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Francis Poulenc’s Gloria and Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, accompanied by full orchestra and led by Noel Edison.

Bass baritone John Relyea, fresh from his run in the COC’s Tales of Hoffman, and soprano Shannon Mercer are the star soloists.

I’ll have more on this tomorrow.

For concert details and tickets, click here.

Anytime is a great time to sit back and enjoy Bernstein’s colourful Chichester Psalms. Here is the maestro himself leading the Israel Philharmonic (in a rough-edged performance) at the Philharmonie in Berlin:


Conductor Bruno Weil.

  • Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra at Koerner Hall, 8 p.m.

Tafelmusik closes its main Toronto season with a foray into the 19th century — with the Symphony No. 4 (the “Italian”) by Felix Mendelssohn, and Symphony No. 3 (the “Eroica”) by Ludwig van Beethoven, led by German conductor Bruno Weil.

These performances complete a full Beethoven symphonic cycle by Tafelmusik, which began in Toronto with the Second in 1993, and included particularly fine readings of the Fifth and Sixth that made for a Juno Award-winning CD release. This programme will be recorded for a future CD release, as well.

For tickets to Thursday’s concert, click here.


  • Via Salzburg, with pianist André Laplante at Rosedale United Church, 159 Roxborough Dr, 8 p.m.

This excellent chamber music series led by violinist Mayumi Seiler concludes its season in the company of pianist André Laplante. They perform piano trios by Johannes Brahms and Claude Debussy together. Laplante presents Claude Debussy’s Estampes on the church’s Steinway concert grand. The winner of Via Salzburg’s second annual composer competition will also be announced.

For details and ticket information, click here.

Besides chamber music, there are two sound choices from two of the city’s stronger sacred choirs:

  • Choir of St. Thomas’s Anglican Church, 383 Huron St., 7:30 p.m.

Anglophiles rejoice: St. Thomas’s organist and choimaster John Tuttle leads a special concert programme in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee that reads like a best-of English and Canadian royal-inspired choral music from the 17th to the 20th centuries — including Handel’s Coronation Anthem Zadok the Priest and C.H.H. Parry’s I was Glad. Also included is Toronto composer Healey Willan’s O Lord, our Governor, commissioned for Elizabeth II’s coronation.

There should be tickets at the door for $20 ($15 for students and seniors).

St Michael’s Choir School

  • St Michael’s Choir School spring concert at St Michael’s Cathedral, 7:30 p.m.

The boys of the venerable choir school are asked for nothing but the best from their teachers, led by Jerzy Cichocki. The end-of-season concert is typically a potpourri of the year’s best pieces, which usually include secular songs, as well.

Admission is by freewill offering.


It’s the annual Doors Open weekend. As in past years, several Toronto music presenters and ensembles will likely include performances with the Doors Open schedule.

I hope to have details later in the week.

John Terauds


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