Programmatic music based on a story is a particular treat for audiences who know the story well. It harkens back to a time of radio dramas or long epic novels that engrossed us through our imaginations.
Aside from fine performances from American soprano Kirsten Blaise and Austrian baritone Daniel Schmutzhard and decent work by the period-instrument Vienna Academy Orchestra and its founding music director Martin Haselböck, Giacomo Variations marked the low point of this Toronto opera (or opera-related) season.
Two of the three core Amici members — clarinettist Joaquin Valdepeñas and cellist David Hetherington — are members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, so they know all about serious music. This sideline is about picking up some less mainstream fare with favourite colleagues.