‘Tis the season for new things

‘Tis the season for new things

The COC, as we all know by now, announced its new season this week.

Among the highlights is certainly the Berlin Staatsoper rental, Jossi Wieler & Sergio Morabito’s Un Ballo in Maschera, set in American South at the time of the Civil Rights movement. Pieczonka will debut the role of Amelia, and Marie-Nicole Lemieux Ulrica. Here’s a good bootleg clip from the 2009 production in Berlin.

A spanking new Cosi fan tutte by Atom Egoyan should be interesting. The last thing he directed for theatre was the Cruel and Tender at Canadian Stage, which I absolutely loved. (His recent films… not so much. But stage is stage: a different language etc.)

The COC co-prod with the LOC, Hercules by Sellars with Harry Bicket in the pit, looks good. I will remind the mezzosexuals among you that this production will return Alice Coote to town. She will, of course, sing Dejanira.

Sondra Radvanovsky will be Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux in the Dallas Opera rental, with the dark-hued mezzo Allyson McHardy in the role of Sara.

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The Royal Conservatory also revealed details of its 13/14 Koerner Hall season last week. Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante make the Koerner Hall debut in February next year, however with a non-vocal Vivaldi program. In December this year, Natalie Dessay joins Michel Legrand and Les Violons du Roy in a (it looks like it) a non-classical program of Legrand’s and other songs. Still part of the current season, Meow Meow, a mad political cabaret mixen* from Britain, will perform here in February. Bizarrely, there are still no program notes available on the Koerner Hall website, but I believe she will do the Little Match Girl performance. Have a listen to her talk about her re-think of the HC Andersen classic over on Women’s Hour.

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Among ATMA Classique January releases, the wind band called Les Jacobins. Completely new to me, the ensemble “originated with the desire to explore the rich but little-known repertoire associated with the French Revolution.” Sympa, oué? Consisting chiefly of transcriptions of opera overtures by Méhul, the recording also includes the actual war songs  for the Revolutionary French armies (one presumes, while they were being led by Napoleon to spread the Liberté-Fraternité-Egalité truc across Europe). Those who have a perverse sense of pairing will make this CD a companion piece to any future seeing of Poulenc’s Carmelites. You can have a taste of it here.

* “Mixen” is a combination of a vixen and a mynx. Now you know.

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Caesar has curves

Caesar has curves

The program for Marie-Nicole Lemieux’s performance with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is out: two Mitridate arias, one Sesto, one Cherubino and Judith from the oratorio La Betulia liberata [MORE].  Not to be missed.

Meanwhile, NML who’s on the Naive roster, continues to produce stunning recordings. Her latest is the French rep CD, Ne me refuse pas:

1. Jules Massenet: Ne me refuse pas (Hérodiade, 1881)
2. Luigi Cherubini: Ah! nos peines seront communes (Néris, Médée, 1797)
3. Fromental Halévy: Sous leur sceptre… Humble fille des champs (Odette, Charles VI, 1843)
4. Hector Berlioz: Heureux enfants… (Roméo et Juliette, 1839)
5. André Wormser: Qu’Apollon soit loué… Ombre d’Agamemnon (Clytemnestre, 1875)
6. Ambroise Thomas: Connais-tu le pays? (Mignon, 1866)
7. Werther, Werther! Qui m’aurait dit la place… (Charlotte, Werther, 1892)
8. Georges Bizet: L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (Carmen, 1875)
9. Hector Berlioz: Je vais mourir (Didon, Les Troyens, 1863)
10. Camille Saint-Saëns: Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix (Dalila, Samson et Dalila, 1877)

There is a surprise track at the end, Offenbach’s ‘Fille de tambour major’. You can sample her outstanding ‘Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix’, they play it as the first number in this wide-ranging interview with NML on Passion Classique. Go to the December 8 show and do a quick free signup, it is worth it: you’ll discover what a great musicological mind she has, what generous spirit. [Wait for her take on the Tristan und Isolde Liebestod, which she chose as one of her favourite piece of music of all time.]

She was also recently a guest at CBC Radio’s SATO. Hear it for the music — they played two other pieces from this CD. She was interviewed in English, and it was fine [giggles abound, as usual, and her toddler joins the conversation near the end] but more basic than MNL in French. MNL should be heard in French to get the full NML experience.

Naxos actually has a better price than Amazon for this CD, so order away.

MNL’s Cesare could have been painted by Botero. With Ingrid Perruche as Cleopatra at the Opéra national de Lorraine, Nancy, 2007.

Marie-Nicole Lemieux and the importance of Baroque décolletage

Marie-Nicole Lemieux and the importance of Baroque décolletage

Not only is Marie-Nicole Lemieux one of the most interesting contraltos singing today…

…she also has a rare gift of understanding the art of the Baroque top.  Evidence:

Marie-Nicole Lemieux

Marie-Nicole LemieuxAncestry:

Artemisia Gentileschi, Self-Portrait as a Lute Player, 1615-1617
Artemisia Gentileschi, Self-Portrait as a Lute Player, 1615-1617

Guido Reni: Death of Cleopatra (1595-1598)
Guido Reni: Death of Cleopatra (1595-1598)
La Strozzi
'The Viola da Gamba Player' (detail), possibly Barbara Strozzi. Painted by Bernardo Strozzi c. 1630-1640