The Canadian Opera Company unveils its 2012-13 season of free concerts at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre

COC Ensemble Studio member Adrian Kramer sang his farewell concert at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre with accompanist Christopher Mokrzewski last May.

The most significant concert presenter in this city outside the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is Nina Draganic, the unheralded doyenne of the Canadian Opera Company’s annual 10-months of free concerts at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.

The new season kicks off at lunchtime on Sept. 18, with a concert by the COC’s Ensemble Studio and will run its combination of classical, jazz, world and new music, dance and lecture concerts through to the end of June. Continue reading

Il Divo puts Atlanta Symphony on stage but pipes pre-recorded music to audience

Those orchestra players lost in the crimson dusk behind Il Divo may look like they’re playing — but it’s highly likely they’re just part of the stage dressing.

Organisers of male popera quartet Il Divo’s current world tour hired the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for their concert at Encore Park last Sunday — then used pre-recorded tracks as the musicians played in the background. Continue reading

An all-Bach weekend in Stratford for Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra

Canada’s Daniel Taylor sings with Tafelmusik in Stratford on Sunday afternoon.

This year’s expanded Stratford Summer Music festival includes the local début of Toronto’s Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra on Saturday and Sunday at St Andrew’s Church. Continue reading

An operatic synonym for bittersweet at the Gladstone Hotel

Scott Belluz and Tracy Smith Bessette in Ross Manson and Ashiq Aziz’s A Synonym for Love, adapted from an opera by George Frideric Handel, at the Gladstone Hotel (John Terauds iPhone photo).

The performing arts are an ecosystem where birth and death are forever locked in a passionate tango. The year’s most fascinating operatic gambit — coming to life at the Gladstone Hotel Sunday through Aug. 31 — is a case in point. Continue reading

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

CD Reviews: Two dashes of passion and finesse from Argentina

New York pianist Mirian Conti (Nan Melville photo).

MIRIAN CONTI
Nostalgias Argentinas (Steinway & Sons)

Here is music made for the dog days of summer — meditative and melancholy pieces for a shady hammock in the afternoon, tangos for twilight pleasure — from New York City-based pianist Mirian Conti. A native of Argentina, Conti has spent many years championing young pianists as well as the rich store of tuneful music written for her instrument in that country. Continue reading

Listening: Voices galore in Canadian Opera Company Rigoletto, Gillian Keith at Royal Albert Hall, Rollando Villazón in Verbier

Ekaterina Sadonikova was Gilda in the COC’s season-opening production of Verdi’s Rigoletto (Michael Cooper photo).

The Canadian Opera Company’s update of Giuseppe Verdi’s warhorse Rigoletto from the start of this past season is featured on today’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera broadcast on CBC Radio 2. Music director Johannes Debus was in the pit. On stage was a decent mix of visiting and Canadian singers. Continue reading