Peter Oundjian launched his 14th and final season as music director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall on Tuesday night with verve and panache. Fourteen years may be a long time, but he and the orchestra are wearing them very well.
The main attractions for the radio or Web listener are Toronto soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian as Euridice and American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo as Orfeo, who must travel to the underworld to retrieve his beloved. Both singers are as powerful dramatically as they are compelling vocally.
His repertoire includes Bach and Haydn, but he is a big fan of 20th century music, as well. He adds a 21st century component by writing his own, becoming one of those rare pianists who is a creator as well as interpreter.
The history of opera is an ongoing pendulum swing that began with the dramatic simplicity of the text at the start of the 17th century in Italy, and gradually became more vocally and instrumentally embellished, then was confronted with a back-to-basics movement in the mid-18th century.