There are so many opportunities to hear great music in this city that the one I chose tonight could easily have slipped under the radar. There’s so much going on at the Faculty of Music, check out their schedule (click the logo at the right), where –alongside the talented students—you might discover a Sondra Radvanovsky master class or a Barbara Hannigan concert. The calibre they offer is extraordinary.
“Vocalis” is a new series at the University of Toronto. Although i didn’t see her name in the programme, the series is the brainchild of Wendy Nielsen, who is head of voice at the U of T’s Faculty of Music. Tonight I heard the second in the series, Masters and DMA singers & collaborative pianists, plus a guest from the Opera Programme. The next concert in the series will take these talented young artists to the Tranzac Club to sing something more like cabaret rather than pure classical music. While I didn’t hear anyone use this word I shall invoke it all the same, namely “multi-disciplinary”. It’s a key concept for the past decade or more in the humanities, as everyone ventures beyond their own narrow turf in the interest of learning, breadth and authenticity.
But tonight was operatic, a series of semi-staged excerpts by Mozart, Britten, Tchaikovsky, Richard Strauss and Rossini. The singing was mostly good and occasionally great.
One reason I couldn’t miss this evening’s performances was evident after the intermission, as Margarete von Vaight sang most of the role of Ariadne, including both big arias and with very little rest time in between, a performance sounding astonishingly polished & professional for a free concert (lucky us!). I’m partial to this opera so I wouldn’t miss a chance to hear even part of it. Max van Wyck’s Harlequin, and the trio of Arianna Ervin, Anna Sharpe and Stephanie Higgins as respectively, Naiad, Dryad and Echo were quite stylish musically, in collaboration with pianist Narmina Efendiyeva.
After the Straussian intensity with Ariadne, Alyssa DiMarco and Clarisse Tonigussi gave us something lighter in Rossini’s cat duet, complete with tails & ears.
Before intermission it was mostly Mozart although we enjoyed brief interludes, beginning with Britten, Rebecca Genge singing Tytania’s “Come now a roundel” with pianist Holly Kroeker and Dann Mitton singing Gremin’s aria with Efendiyeva. The Figaro excerpts featured “Sull’aria” with June Ekker blending beautifully with Claudianne Moreau as Countess & Susanna, with pianist Andrea Van Pelt, and an energetic bit of the Act II finale with Sonya Harper Nybe’s Countess, Janelle Lapalme’s Susanna, Peter Warren’s Count, with Melisande Sinsoulier moving things nicely from the piano.
We also heard two excerpts from La Clemenza di Tito, beginning with “Come ti piace imponi” featuring Kari Abraham as Vitellia opposite Meghan Symon’s Sesto, with pianist Braden Young. The tuneful “ah perdona al primo affetto” followed, featuring Kristina Alexander’s Annio, Maeve Palmer’s Serilia, with pianist Amy Seulky Lee.