Listening: Two great opera options today

Larence Zazzo and Isabel Bayrakdarian in the Canadian Opera Company production of Orfeo ed Euridice, being broadcast today (Michael Cooper photo).

Last season’s spectacularly good Canadian Opera Company production of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s 1762 masterpiece Orfeo ed Euridice gets a broadcast on CBC Radio 2’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, starting at 1 p.m.

The main attractions for the radio or Web listener are Toronto soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian as Euridice and American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo as Orfeo, who must travel to the underworld to retrieve his beloved. Both singers are as powerful dramatically as they are compelling vocally.

The excellent singing from the rest of the cast and chorus was elegantly underpinned by visiting British conductor Harry Bicket, leading the COC Orchestra in modern approximations of period-performance style.

Robert Carsen’s dark, grey, minimalist production put all the focus on the psychology and the music, which makes this the ideal audio drama.

For further details on today’s broadcast, click here.


Web broadcaster is providing a live stream of a new opera, Written on Skin, by British composer George Benjamin, from the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in France this morning — and it will be available for free viewing for three months, starting Monday.

Benjamin’s first full-length opera has a libretto by George Crimp, who was inpsired by a Medieval French legend. After seeing the work’s world premiere last weekend, the critic at Le Monde declared it to be the “best opera written in the last 20 years.”

The cast includes wonderful soprano Barbara Hannigan, no stranger to Torontonians, and star countertenor Bejun Mehta.

For all the details, click here.

In case you’re not already signed up with, it is well worth the small effort, given the wide range of free concerts and operas they stream — usually performed at the very highest level. They also have more than 1,000 concerts, operas, vintage TV broadcasts, documentaries and master classes available for paid viewing.

John Terauds



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