Concert review: Shakespeare is immortal but musical settings imperfect in Talisker programme

The Talisker Players at a previous Trinity-St. Paul's Centre concert.

We’re coming up on the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare in 2016. Despite the fact that we would not recognize each other’s worlds, the words he used to navigate his have proved to be not only timeless, but continue to inspire new ways of presenting them to new audiences.

Working together with actor Graham Abbey and his Groundling Theatre Company, as well as mezzo-soprano Norine Burgess, Talisker Players close their musical season at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre with a programme that puts fresh spins on the Bard’s plays and poetry — with mixed results. Continue reading

Tonight: Actor Graham Abbey sees spring of Henry V in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

Graham Abbey in the decidedly un-Shakesearean Casino Jack.

One of the spring’s more fascinating small-scale concerts could be the mix of Shakespeare and Antonio Vivaldi being presented by Talisker Players, actor Graham Abbey and his Groundling Theatre Company. Continue reading

April 16: Toronto classical concert highlights for the next seven days

Opera Atelier's Armide is on at the Elgin Theatre to Saturday (Bruce Zinger photo).

We’re at the height of the late-spring concert and opera calendar, so clone yourselves, Toronto music lovers, and gird yourselves for a banquet.


The Canadian Opera Company and Opera Atelier both have five-act operas with Parisian roots on their stages this week. The uniting theme behind both: Nothing exceeds like excess.

  • The COC’s production of Jacques Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann is on at the Four Seasons Centre on Wednesday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Don’t expect to leave the theatre much before 11. You can read my review here. For tickets and other details, click here.
  • Opera Atelier’s production of Armide, by Jean-Baptiste Lully is on at the Elgin Theatre Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and closes on Saturday. If you love Baroque opera and lots of ballet with your singing, this is a colourful treat. You can read my review here. For tickets and other details, click here.



  • Musicians from Marlboro at Mazzoleni Hall, 7:30 p.m.

Marlboro, Vermont is the bucolic setting for a long-running and highly respected summer music festival (running July 14 to Aug. 12, this year) run by pianists’ pianists Mitsuko Uchida and Richard Goode. The focus is always on exquisitely prepared, thoughtfully interpreted chamber music. For those unable to enjoy the Green Mountain setting, the festival every year sends out a group of evangelists to give the rest of the continent a taste of these pleasures. Continue reading

Review: Benjamin Britten’s gorgeous Serenade song cycle makes Talisker Players’ programme

One piece alone is worth a ticket to the Talisker Players’ latest programme at Trinity-St. Paul’s Church: the alternately dark and luminous Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, written by English composer Benjamin Britten during World War II. Continue reading

Jan 30: Toronto classical concert highlights for the next seven days

These concert highlights are just the tip of this week’s musical iceberg in Toronto:


The Five Small Concerts presented by the Associates of the TSO are one of the city’s best-kept secrets. For $20 ($17 for students and seniors), ticket buyers get to hear members of the Toronto Symphony and their friends perform fine chamber music. Continue reading