Ludwig van Toronto’s weekly Critic’s Picks are a fully curated list of some of the best concerts happening now through the end of the week. This is not to say we are the provocateurs of taste, but simply seek to provide a good weekly summary. For a look at the full breadth of what’s available in and around Toronto, check out our curated concert listings here.
Given it’s the Holiday Season, there’s a dearth of regular classical music programming. I am therefore combining two weeks’ worth of entries. I wish all Ludwig van Toronto readers a happy, healthy and musically rewarding Holiday Season. See you in the new year!
Toronto Symphony Orchestra | Messiah 8 p.m. Roy Thomson Hall. $49.75-$113. Repeats 8 p.m. on Dec. 19, 20, 22, and 23 (3 p.m.)
The TSO mega-Messiah is back, and this time it has a particularly wonderful quartet of soloists in soprano Karina Gauvin, mezzo Krisztina Szabo, tenor Frederic Antoun, and baritone Joshua Hopkins, joined by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Matthew Halls conducts. | Listing
Ballet Jörgen Canada | The Nutcracker. 7:30 p.m. Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis St. $45-$62 Repeats Dec. 30 (2 p.m. and 7 p.m.) at Flato Markham Theatre, 171 Town Centre Blvd., Markham, ON.
An alternative to the large-scale National Ballet’s Nutcracker is Ballet Jörgen’s touring show, to be performed at the National Ballet School’s Betty Oliphant Theatre (Dec. 18) and the Flato Markham Theatre (Dec. 30). Choreographed by Bengt Jörgen to the beloved Tchaikovsky score. | Listing
Elmer Iseler Singers | Season of Joy. 12 p.m. Roy Thomson Hall. Free.
The 21st Annual Free Noon Hour Choir and Organ Concert featuring the 20-voice Elmer Iseler Singers. Doors open at 11 a.m. and early arrival recommended for this free event. | Listing
National Ballet of Canada | The Nutcracker. 7 p.m. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W. Continues to Dec. 30. $39-$140. Check website for dates and casting. Some performances sold out.
The annual family favourite from the National Ballet opened on Dec. 9 and runs to Dec. 30. This James Kudelka version of Nutcracker is refreshingly different, and lasts two hours with a single intermission. Dec. 19 dancers are Elena Lobsanova, Naoya Ebe, and Tanya Howard. | Listing
Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Toronto | Vesuvius Ensemble Christmas Concert. 8 p.m. Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Ave. $25/$20 (sr, st)
The Vesuvius Ensemble (tenor Francesco Pellegrino, oboist/guitarist Marco Cera, lutenist Lucas Harris) is dedicated to the performance and preservation of traditional folk music from Naples and Southern Italy. This Christmas concert, Quanno nascette ninno: Christmas in Southern Italy includes a Pastorale played on the zampogna (traditional bagpipes played by shepherds on Christmas Eve) by Tommaso Sollazzo and Romina Di Gasbarro. | Details
Quartetto Gelato | The Magic of Christmas. 8 p.m. Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor St. W. $25-$60
Quartetto Gelato’s Christmas Concert includes virtuosi showpieces, gypsy tunes and original compositions, plus famous Christmas songs the likes of “I’ll be Home for Christmas”, “Sleigh Ride” and “Silent Night.” | Listing
Roy Thomson Hall | The Barra MacNeils: An East Coast Christmas. 8 p.m. Roy Thomson Hall. $29.50-$69.50.
Join the five MacNeil siblings – Lucy, Boyd, Stewart, Kyle and Sheumas — for their Christmas potpourri of traditional MacNeil family favourites, on a variety of instruments including the accordion, guitar, piano, fiddle, bodhran, mandolin, banjo, Celtic harp etc. | Details
Toronto Operetta Theatre | Candide. 8 p.m. St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front St. E. $49-$95. Repeats Dec. 30, 31, Jan. 5, 6, 7. Check website for details and start times.
Toronto Operetta Theatre presents Leonard Bernstein’s masterpiece, Candide, with Tonatiuh Abrego in the title role, joined by Vania Chan (Cunegonde), Nicholas Borg (Voltaire), and Elizabeth Beeler (Old Lady). Derek Bate conducts. | Details
Attila Glatz Concert Productions | Bravissimo! Opera’s Greatest Hits. 7 p.m. Roy Thomson Hall.
For an end-of-year opera fix, you can’t do better than the annual Bravissimo! Opera’s Greatest Hits, with selections from the standard repertoire. Soloists are sopranos Barbara Bargnesi and Francesca Sassu, mezzo Carolyn Sproule, tenor David Pomeroy and baritone Massimo Cavalletti. Marco Guidarini, who also conducted last year’s edition, leads the Opera Canada Symphony. $85-$145. | Listing