L’Amour d’ici and a lot of it

L’Amour d’ici and a lot of it

The Canadian Opera Company announced its next season this morning, and there’s plenty to be excited about. There will only be one remount —  we’ll see three new COC productions and three house debuts of co-productions.

Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de loin is the season’s contemporary work and a fantastic decision. I believe this will be the first time a Saariaho opera is seen in Toronto, and she is also the first woman composer ever in the COC programming. The main connection between the two distant lovers in the opera will be the Pilgrim, to be sung by the mezzo Krisztina Szabo in potentially a fascinating trouser role. Russell Braun and Erin Wall are the troubadour and the lady. (February 2012)

Adrianne Pieczonka will sing Tosca.

Now, I am a religious fanatic about her Puccini CD and have been telling everybody who will listen and many who won’t that she will be one of the greatest Puccinian voices of the early 21C, but I’ve also read and heard from multiple sources that her SFO etc. Toscas lacked in the acting department and did not display the kind of dangerous and dark charisma necessary for  the role. This performance will put that grumbling to rest. She is by now well familiar with the role, and will proceed to own it. Mark my words and talk to me in a year. (Jan-Feb 2012)

Andrew Davis will conduct and Catherine Malfitano direct the Florentine double bill (April, May 2012) consisting of the Eine Florentinische Tragödie by Alexander Zemlinsky and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.

A few days ago I was thinking I should start this post with a whinge about the dearth of the baroque operas at the COC, but I can’t do that now: Handel’s oratorio-opera Semele will open in May 2012, and there will be dancing in the streets. One hopes, that is — it seems that the director Zhang Huan will move the Greek mythological story as told by a German-English baroque composer into the setting of the Chinese imperial Ming dynasty. Will it work? We are eager to find out. Semele will be sung by the coloratura soprano Jane Archibald, the young Joan Sutherland lookalike (and I hear, soundalike) who we’ll see as Zerbinetta in April.

Cecilia Bartoli in a recent Robert Carsen production of Semele:

Other squeal-worthy stuff: a new Hoffmann from the Flemish Opera (Johannes Debus conducting, Lauren Segal sings Nicklausse, Russell Thomas/David Pomeroy as Hoffmann and three different sopranos for the Hoffmann’s three heartbreaks), and a spanking new Rigoletto (co-prod with ENO).

The biggest star of the season (in fact, so big that she couldn’t contribute to the recording of the season teaser like all the other artists) is also the most boring one: Susan Graham will sing Iphigénie en Tauride (Pablo Heras Casado c., Robert Carsen d., Sep-Oct 2011). All the same, a Carsen production is always worth seeing. Are there any gilt chairs with fuchsia upholstery in Tauris? We will find out in September.

All in all: much to look forward to.

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22 thoughts on “L’Amour d’ici and a lot of it

  1. I read above: “Soprano Jane Archibald, the young Joan Sutherland lookalike” !?!? Check out this gorgeous young soprano here:

    and check out the wonderful Dame Joan Sutherland here:

    and tell me they’re look-alikes!!! I don’t think so! I for one cannot WAIT to see Ms Archibald in Toronto! (I’ll be the guy with the flowers at the stage door so look out for me, Ms Archibald!)

    1. Hmmmm lookalike… Will look up some pictures to find some lost twin again ^^// *mental note: there was also an interview with some Wagner singer some years ago concerning singing in red-shoes vs. singing bare-foot… where have i got it …//

      Thank you for mentioning her, as I probably wouldn’t have stumbled upon her otherwise.

      Oh, as you seem to have more than passing fondness for baroque music: You might like this: scenical setting of Messiah:
      The people that walketh in darkness:

    1. Definitely. I also like that they make an effort to include at least one latter-half-of-the-20th-century work and one pre-Classical work. (The Met, for example, doesn’t dare do that very often.)

      And this season, I can’t wait for the Ariadne, and am curious about Nixon, which I’ve never heard before.

  2. Wow! A very exciting season indeed. I’ll look forward to your reviews, and hope for a radio broadcast of the Saariaho. Intriguing programming choice for the Zemlinsky/Puccini evening. I heard Jane Archibald as Ophelie in Ambroise Thomas’ Hamlet last seasson, and she did have amazingly pure, strong sound. I haven’t heard Pieczonka live yet, but prospect of a great Puccini voice is v. v. exciting.

    1. Oh seriously, she already has her Met debut behind her? Good for Archie. Unless the Hamlet was at the NYCO? She’s currently alternating a role with Dessay in one of the EU houses, can’t remember which.

      You should come over next season, Lucia.

      1. Hamlet was at the Met, with Keenlyside in the title role! The two of them were the best parts of the night; the tension of repressed/thwarted passion was palpable, and both his banquet scene and her “A vos jeux, mes amis” (sorry about the lack of accent grave) were riveting.

        An opera expedition to Toronto is a good thought; maybe I could find something “necessary” to do at the Medieval Institute. Or maybe I could just run away for a weekend (reckless abandon!)

  3. Well, you have to forgive the Met in some measure for their reluctance on the pre-Classical front, it’s a bit oversized for a proper baroque orchestra.

  4. There’s that. But somehow I think it has more to do with the lack of daring in programming. They could try different things, up the pitch, or play on contemporary instruments, or fatten up certain sections of the orchestra… How many do they seat? Vienna Staats seats 2,000-plus (and a few hundred standing, I think?) and they just showed their first baroque opera in a long time. Palais Garnier seats, what, c. 2,000 and they program baroque. Don’t know. I think it’s not only the space. It certainly isn’t with the COC, which also has a history of the avoidance of baroque.

  5. Oh I see. Yes. People get upset if they’re asked to sit one out and get replaced by a bunch of baroque violinists or if they’re asked to take a crash course in baroque violin for a concert coming up in a month?

    1. I don’t think it’s the upset factor, I think it’s a) your players have to have the requisite instruments, especially with woodwinds or horns… and, yes, know how to play them, and these things are often very different animals from their modern counterparts, both in construction and playing technique,

      or b) you’re hiring a lot of ringers, especially if you want lute and/or theorbo in the mix.

      Either way, it’s additional expense. Unless you go the old route of re-scoring for modern orchestra. The last time the Met did that, I believe, was with Samson back in the 80’s — it came out sounding a lot like Tristan (though, granted, it was Jon Vickers).

  6. The Met seats over 3800 (madness.) And baroque opera isn’t the only casualty in a lack of exploratory programming (although this does force baroque aficionados to NYCO and BAM, which I suppose is a good thing.) The coming spring looks varied, though, and has two Gluck operas. Next New Year’s Eve is a “new pastiche” of baroque music, about which I have violently mixed feelings, but they’ve got Christie in to conduct, and seem to be pulling out all the stops generally… an attempt to warm the opera-as-social-event portion of the audience up to baroque, perhaps?

      1. I believe they’re calling it a pastiche because it’s a Frankenstein’s opera, bits of a lot of different things sewn together into a plot/score (which is to say, way period).

        My only concern is that this means Christie’s baroque opera festival deal with BAM has all gone south? If that’s the case…damn.

      2. Let’s hope not. I remember in his ‘Living Opera’ interview w Joshua Jampol Christie being really eager to establish some stable musical connections in his old country. Les Arts are at the Juilliard teaching baroque performance, if I remember correctly, and there was the BAM thing in the works. It would be unreasonable to drop it. Unless the Frankenopera night is a recurring thing and would eat up all his US time. But let’s hope not.

  7. Indeed, because I seem to recall talk of a revival of Les Arts’ production of Atys, which I missed at BAM in 1989 (Brooklyn? That’s in the Kingdom of Prester John, isn’t it?) and would dearly love another chance at, now I can navigate the BQE with relative ease.

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