Opera review: A clever blend of Baroque and modern in A Synonym for Love at the Gladstone Hotel

Emily Atkinson as Teresa in Volcano Theatre and Classical Music Consort production of A Synonym for Love at the Gladstone Hotel (John Lauener photo).

Take something like an opera, give it something like a staging across four floors of a Victorian hotel, and you either have a treat or a disaster on your hands.

Fortunately for the clever troupe of singers, actors and orchestra musicians having the dramatic time of their lives at the Gladstone Hotel until Aug. 31, their modern English adaptation of George Frideric Handel’s 1707 cantata Clori, Trisi e Fileno, renamed A Synonym for Love, is an unqualified success. 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

Cineplex unveils 2012-13 The Met: Live in HD schedule

Cineplex has released the dates of Canadian screenings of performances from the Metropolitan Opera’s 2012-13 season. The tickets go on sale Sept. 4 to the general public. Met Opera members and Cineplex Scene club members get the first picks, on Aug. 22. 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

Marvin Hamlisch, master of the movie and show tune was always ready with advice

Marvin Hamlisch’s close working connection with Garth Drabinsky last brought him to Toronto for last year’s ill-fated Black Creek Festival (AP photo).


Marvin Hamlisch, an incredibly talented composer and conductor and frequent life coach to seasoned performers and students alike, died yesterday, aged 68, in Los Angeles following what has been described as a brief illness. Continue reading

Metropolitan Opera’s Craig Rutenberg fills Toronto Summer Music fellows in on the true art of the art song

Baritone Tyler Fitzgerald and pianist Nikolay Verevkin listen to Craig Rutenberg’s instruction at a public master class at the Toronto Summer Music Festival on Tuesday (John Terauds iPhone photo).

Sit back, and all you’re supposed to hear is a polished whole. But peer at the artistry with a metaphorical magnifying glass, and the amount of detail that does into singing a 2-minute art song is staggering.

The amount of finesse and nuance is “like the fine brush strokes on a Giotto,” says Craig Rutenberg after his public masterclass for the Toronto Summer Music Festival and Academy at Walter Hall on Tuesday. Continue reading

Two concerts, two vastly different takes on getting intimate with the voice

Nadia Chana and Larissa Koniuk present their pedal-powered accessible opera alternative at the Rustic Owl Gallery on Saturday evening.

There are determined little sprouts of art music amidst the mass exodus to cottages and beaches and the hoopla around Pride and Canada Day festivities (could we hoist a rainbow Maple Leaf on the CN Tower and get both fêtes flying on one flagpole?): Continue reading