I was stunned to check the Royal Conservatory of Music box office this morning to discover that there are still hundreds of tickets available for Wednesday’s art song recital by German baritone Christian Gerhaher.
He is in his early 40s — able to bring a wealth of experience and insight to music with a lyric voice that’s in its finest, full bloom.
Gerhaher’s accompanist is none other than Andras Schiff, who, alone, should be able to sell out Koerner Hall with his promise of impeccably articulated partnership.
The sad revelation that there are only 500 or so people in a city of more than 5 million interested and able to attend the concert is the culmination of a season of disappointing turnouts for the world’s best singers presenting art song at Koerner Hall, and the Telus Centre’s fully justified decision to program fewer such recitals next season.
Roy Thomson Hall has already all but given up trying to sell tickets to vocal concerts. Yes, Renée Fleming sold out the place, but Karina Gauvin, who is a veritable national treasure among Canadian sopranos, sang to half a house last season.
This season, Roy Thomson Hall tried a series of smaller-scale recitals by up-and-comers at the Glenn Gould Studio across the street, and it was no easier to sell tickets.
The Aldeburgh Connection filled Koerner Hall earlier this year, but it was a gala anniversary concert that went well beyond the usual singer-plus-pianist bill.
Opera is as popular as ever and there are fledgling opera presenters popping up every season in Toronto. So what’s up with the song recital?
Does the art song require too much attention? Is it really better suited to a salon? Does it need to be paired with video or some other visual distraction? Does art song need to be leavened with popular or operatic fare?
Please share your thoughts on this strange phenomenon.