Friday, July 1, 2011

The Season Ends with Opera

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra 2010/2011 Season came to a close on June 26 with a program titled Opera Favourites.  I know very little about opera, the only one I have any interest in seeing is Mozart's Magic Flute, but I missed it when the Canadian Opera Company was performing it.  There is of course Wagner, and the wonderful Puccini who's works I've heard elsewhere (and incidentally blogged about).

Alasdair Neale (
And while Puccini might be great without words, to do opera justice requires singers.  This role was filled by soprano Leah Crocetto and tenor David Pomeroy.  Guest conductor for the final event was Alasdair Neale, making his TSO debut.

There was a nice mix of vocal and orchestra selections with informative introductions by Mr. Neale, and I would welcome his return to the podium.  Most of the pieces would start and I'd be thinking...hmm, I'm not sure I know this one, but shortly thereafter would be a common theme and suddenly I'd recognize it.  Some of the highlights included what have become the classic, and some may say over done opera pieces.  From Puccini "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi (which is pronounced in a completely different way from how it's spelled) and the "famous or infamous", as commented by Maestro Neale, "Nesson dorma" from Turandot (seriously there are SO many versions of this, here's one that covers 3 in 1...The 3 Tenors).  Over done or not, David Pomeroy sang it amazingly well.

After an orchestra interlude of "Intermezzo" from Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana, both Mr. Pomeroy and Ms. Crocetto joined forces to tell the love story of Pinkerton and Cio-Cio-San in the "Love Duet" from Madame Butterfly.  From that single song one would never realize what a heal of a guy Pinkerton actually is.  A shame Butterfly loved him so much.  But it's opera, these things come with the territory :)

The second half moved back in time to feature the music of Mozart and Verdi, and opened with the wonderful "Overture to The Marriage of Figaro".  It continued with the "Dove sono" from the same opera, then "Fuor del mar" from Idomeneo sung by Ms. Crocetto and Mr. Pomeroy respectively.  Moving onto Verdi, the segment opened with the "Triumphal March" from Aida, minus the elephants (and chorus that the linked version has, but it showcases the trumpets nicely...well I think there's a rotton note now that I listen to it).  Maestro Neale mentioned his desire to have been there at the debut of the the opera.  Evidently it must have been a very grand affair.  I've played an arrangement of this piece and it is quite fun, especially if you have a great brass section, like the TSO does, led by Andrew McCandless (principal trumpet) and Gordon Wolfe (principal trombone).

Just prior to the quiet finale duet of "Parigi o caro" from La Traviata was the ultimate chauvinist song (according to Mr. Neale) of "La donna e mobile" from Rigoletto.  Mr. Pomeroy acted the part very well beginning with a casual lean on the conductors podium.  This was a piece I remember from it being on a listening exam in High School.  It was much more enjoyable to see live than to listen to on cassette (yep, that's how we were given our listening pieces).

Not to let the audience leave on that quiet, somewhat relaxed note however, the vocalists and orchestra obliged the applause with an upbeat drinking song...which I think was from La Traviata.

It was a nice light end to the season as the audience filled out of the hall and several orchestra members shook others hands, probably wishing them a happy summer.

Thanks to everyone at the TSO for another fantastic season!  I'm eagerly anticipating returning to Roy Thomson Hall for next seasons 90th anniversary.

And with that (because I missed posting this in June), Happy Canada Day to everyone!

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