Listening: The ghosts of Wagners future and past hover over Gluck, Elgar and Schoenberg

Susan Graham starred in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Iphigénie en Tauride, desolately staged by expat Torontonian Robert Carsen.

Grabbing the heart with text and music takes many forms. This weekend, we have a chance to sample opera reduced to its essence, and two very operatic ways of crafting oratorio and cantata.

The first comes via CBC Radio 2’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, which broadcasts the Canadian Opera Company’s critically praised production of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s 1779 masterpiece, Iphigénie en Tauride, featuring American mezzo Susan Graham in the title role. Continue reading


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. Continue reading

Two Canadian baritones prominent in opening weekend of 2012 BBC Proms

University of Toronto grad Phillip Addis sings Pelléas in a BBC Proms concert on Saturday at Royal Albert Hall.

The first of 76 concerts in the 118th Henry Woods Promenade Concerts season gets underway at London’s Royal Albert Hall today at 2:30 p.m. Eastern (7:30 p.m. if you’re near Greenwich Observatory). Many will be available for listening on the Web. Continue reading

Canadian Opera Company Tosca one of today’s weatherproof highlights

Adrianne Pieczonka in the Canadian Opera Company’s Tosca, airing this afternoon on CBC Radio 2 (Michael Cooper photo).

Four musical suggestions to brighten up the first Saturday in June: Continue reading

Weekend listening adrenaline thanks to Valkyries, Valery Gergiev, Sergei Prokofiev and Zarathustra

Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra inside Moscow's Tchaikovsky Hall (Moscow Easter Festival photo).

If you can’t make it to Canada’s Wonderland for a stomach churn on the new Leviathan rollercoaster, there are several other ways to get your adrenal glands excited this weekend — all with the help of some fabulous musicians.

You can try riding along with the Valkyries in today’s opera broadcast on CBC Radio 2, from the Metropolitan Opera’s second run through the full Robert Lepage-conceived Wagner Ring Cycle. Continue reading

CBC announces cuts to 650 jobs, need to advertise on Radio 2 and Espace Musique, in face of Harper budget cuts

Thanks to the Harper government’s decision to cut $115 million in funding over the next three years, the CBC has just announced that it will cut 475 jobs this year, growing to 650 over the full three years.

It has also applied to the CRTC to allow advertising on Radio 2 and its French-language ounterpart, Espace musique.

In making the announcement, CBC CEO Hubert T. Lacroix said the government funding cuts, inflation and other costs put the real need for revenue over the next three years at $200 million. Continue reading

The secret to a happy relationship with Bach is in embracing perpetual challenge

(This post includes reviews of two new Bach CDs, below.)

The current mania for immersive experiences packaged for small groups of obsessive-compulsive personalities manifested itself this week in classical music with yesterday’s kickoff of an eight-day Schubertiade on BBC Radio 3 (“200 hours of continuous broadcasting!” proclaims the public radio service) and a week-long focus on all things Goldberg on NPR.

NPR’s Goldberg Variations obsessions were anchored on the birthday of J.S. Bach, March 21. There is a lot to read and listen to. For those who missed her recital at Gallery 345, the NPR list includes Lara Downes’ wonderful 13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg.

(Tomorrow, at 2 P.M. ET, catch live streaming of Bernard Labadie and Les Violons du Roy performing Bach’s St. John Passion from Carnegie Hall here.)

All of this coincided with me receiving a fresh pile of CDs.

Among the fine Canadian content was pianist David Jalbert’s new recording of the Goldberg Variations, as well as violinist Lara St. John’s all-Bach collaboration with Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra principal harp,  Marie-Pierre Langlamet. Continue reading