One of the joys of small period-performance ensembles is seeing a soloist also take on the role of leader or conductor. When all the parts of a programme align properly, it can make for powerfully unified performances, as was the case at this week’s Tafelmusik Baroque celebration.
Giuseppe Verdi’s Falstaff is popping up all over the place this season. In Toronto, New York, at Opera Hamilton and elsewhere, companies are choosing the maestro’s final work to salute his bicentenary.
As with Britten’s opereas, this carefully selected set of 17 works for liturgical contexts speaks directly to English-speaking listeners without the need for understanding a single thing about the meaning of either the text or the music.
The opera singer chose to make her long-overdue Toronto Symphony début with two signature arias that highlighted her powerful, dramatic voice, and even more potent ability to imbue every note and every phrase with meaning and purpose: “Mercè, dilette amiche” (Thank you, dear friends) from I vespri siciliani, by Giuseppe Verdi; and the “Letter Scene,” from Peter Ilytch Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.
On stage were 16 fantastic singers, sensitively accompanied by Aldeburgh’s founding co-artistic directors, Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata. There were two hosts introducing a masterfully arranged programme that seamlessly integrated words and music as it moved from theme to theme.