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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

CRITIC'S PICKS | Ten Concerts You Should Absolutely See This Week (Feb. 12 – 18)

By Joseph So on February 12, 2018

Classical music and opera events happening in and around Toronto for the week of February 12 – 18.
Classical music and opera events happening in and around Toronto for the week of February 12 – 18.

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.

Tuesday 13

Canadian Opera Company | The Abduction from the Seraglio. 7:30 p.m. Four Seasons Centre. $35-$350. Repeats Feb. 16, 18, 22, 24. Check website for start times.

In his interesting, if controversial re-thinking of the Mozart comic opera, stage director Wajdi Mouawad has reframed the story as a flashback, by adding an opening scene with copious extra spoken dialogue, while the music and the basic outcome of the story stay the same. It’s generating divided opinions, but to me it’s a thoughtful and non-gratuitous attempt to bring this problematic story to the 21st century. Great singing on opening night from all the principals, particularly Jane Archibald (Konstanze) and Mauro Peter (Belmonte). Johannes Debus leads the COC Orchestra. | Listing

Wednesday 14

Canadian Opera Company | Vocal Series: The Truth About Love. 12 p.m. Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Four Seasons Centre. Free. Be sure to show up early for a seat.

Canadian coloratura soprano Claire de Sévigné, currently the excellent Blondchen in Abduction from the Seraglio gives a Valentine concert of love songs, in an interesting and intricate program melding text (read by Huw Montague Rendall) and music (songs by Faure, Debussy, Wolf, Liszt, Schumann, Strauss, Schubert, Poulenc, Weill, Previn, Copland and Bridge). | Details

Royal Conservatory of Music | Vocal Concert: Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake. 8 p.m. Koerner Hall. $40-$95.  Pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. by Rick Phillips.

A consummate recitalist who combines a beautiful voice with musical intelligence, British tenor Ian Bostridge makes a welcome return to Toronto and Koerner Hall for an All-Schubert Valentine’s Day recital. He’s partnered by renowned pianist Julius Drake in a program of Schubert songs from different cycles. Unfortunately, the notes on the RCM website has no annotations, so be sure to attend the Rich Phillips pre-concert talk. This is a must-see recital this season if you like nuanced and thoughtful programming. | Listing

Toronto Symphony Orchestra | Prokofiev Romeo & Juliet. 8 p.m. Roy Thomson Hall. $40.75-$154. Repeats Feb. 15 8 p.m.

The TSO contributes to Valentine Day programming with music about those eternal star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. It opens with three Russian folk songs by Balakirev, followed by the Harp Concerto by Reinhold Glière.  The centerpiece is Prokofiev’s Suite from Romeo and Juliet, conducted by Conductor Emeritus Sir Andrew Davis. | Listing

Thursday 15

Canadian Opera Company | Vocal Series: Russian Romance. Noon, Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Four Seasons Centre. Free. Be sure to arrive early to ensure a seat.

Artists of the COC Ensemble Studio (sopranos Lauren Eberwein, Danika Lorèn and Samantha Pickett; mezzos Simone McIntosh and Megan Quick; baritones Bruno Roy and Samuel Chan; pianists Rachael Kerr and Stephane Mayer) join forces for a program of romantic songs by Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Sviridov, mostly familiar works, particularly Rachmaninov’s “Spring Waters” Op. 14, No. 11 and “Lilacs” Op. 21, No. 5. | Details

Opera Atelier | Harmonia Sacra. 7 p.m. Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery, Royal Ontario Museum. 100 Queen’s Park. $69

This is the Toronto premiere of Harmonia Sacra, OA’s one-hour concert that premiered at Versailles in May 2017.  It melds music by Henry Purcell with baroque dance, plus a new Canadian commission, Inception for solo violin composed and performed by Edwin Huizinga, with choreography by Tyler Gledhill.  Soloists are soprano Mireille Asselin, baritone Jesse Blumberg, three Atelier Ballet dancers and six members of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. | Listing

Friday 16

Royal Conservatory of Music | Leon Fleisher Conducts the Royal Conservatory Orchestra. 8 p.m. Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor St. W. $25-$55. (prelude performance in Koerner Hall at 6:45 p.m.)

The legendary pianist/conductor/pedagogue celebrates his 90th birthday this year, and at such a grand age, he is still super-active, conducting the RC Orchestra in a program of Beethoven, Sibelius, and Richard Strauss. Also featured is Joaquin Valdepenas to conduct soprano Jocelyn Fralick in Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder. | Listing

Saturday 17

Canadian Opera Company | Rigoletto. 7:30 p.m. Four Seasons Centre. $88-$350. Repeats 21, 23.

The revival of the Christopher Alden production of Rigoletto continues with a very strong cast. American tenor Joshua Guerrero, who stepped in to replace an indisposed Stephen Costello mid-performance on Jan. 27, made his scheduled debut on Feb. 11. This is his second performance. Anna Christy is Gilda, and Roland Wood is Rigoletto. Stephen Lord conducts. | Listing

Toronto Symphony Orchestra | The Wizard of Oz with Live Orchestra. 7:30 p.m. Roy Thomson Hall. $25-$88 Repeats Feb. 18 3 p.m.

Another one of those TSO family shows pairing orchestra with famous movies, and you can’t get much more famous than The Wizard of Oz! Emil de Cou conducts the TS forces in this family classic. The TSO website even has a link to a clip from the movie. | Listing

Sunday 18

Mooredale Concerts | Paul Huang, violin and Helen Huang, piano. 3:15 p.m. Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building, University of Toronto, 80 Queen’s Park. 1:15 p.m. Music and Truffles. $30/$20(under 30).

In their Canadian debut, violinist Paul Huang and pianist Helen Huang play a program of works by Saint-Saens, Sarasate, and Cyril Scott. | Listing

LUDWIG VAN TORONTO

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Joseph So

Joseph So

Joseph So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University and Associate Editor of Opera Canada.He is also a long-time contributor to La Scena Musicale and Opera (London, UK). His interest in music journalism focuses on voice, opera as well as symphonic and piano repertoires. He appears regularly as a panel member of the Big COC Podcast.He has co-edited a book, Opera in a Multicultural World: Coloniality, Culture, Performance, published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).
Joseph So
Joseph So

Joseph So

Joseph So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University and Associate Editor of Opera Canada.He is also a long-time contributor to La Scena Musicale and Opera (London, UK). His interest in music journalism focuses on voice, opera as well as symphonic and piano repertoires. He appears regularly as a panel member of the Big COC Podcast.He has co-edited a book, Opera in a Multicultural World: Coloniality, Culture, Performance, published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).
Joseph So
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