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Weekend listening: Ears get the candy from Canadian Opera Company's Semele today

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Jane Archibald was a magnificent Semele at the Canadian Opera Company last spring (Michael Cooper photo).

Saturday is one of those days when, for a few hours anyway, you can pretend it’s 1950 and leave the radio set to CBC Radio 2.

  • The fun starts at 10 a.m. with wonderful Canadian pianist David Jalbert, currently based in Ottawa and brandishing two fine new albums, one of the Goldberg Variations and another with his chamber-music mates, Triple Forte, on This is My Music at 10 a.m. (Eastern).
  • Last spring’s Canadian Opera Company production of George Frideric Handel’s Semele — one of only two operas he wrote in English — was an embarrassing mishmash of clashing concepts, but it sounded fabulous. The great, shining star of the show was Nova Scotia-born soprano Jane Archibald as Semele. Conductor Rinaldo Alessandrini did a great job of giving the modern-instrument COC Orchestra historically-informed bounce and texture. You’ll find more info here. The broadcast starts at 1 p.m. (Eastern).


The prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition is underway and being broadcast on BBC Radio 3. The finalists’ concerts are being made available for re-listening here. (There are no Canadians on the list this time.)


There’s a wonderful concert by French organist Thierry Escaich from the modest 16th century Franciscan cathedral of Saint-Pierre d’Annecy that’s all about the art of the toccata, prelude and fugue. This incredibly talented musician (titular organist at Saint-Etienne-du-Mont in Paris, which was Maurice Duruflé’s church) intersperses examples from great composers (including J.S. Bach, of course) with his own improvisations on the versatile 170-year-old instrument.

It’s streaming on, which celebrated a banner summer, claiming 667,000 viewers of its live as well as archive concerts, opera performances and documentaries.

An August 5 performance of Ariadne auf Naxos from Salzburg gathered nearly 20,000 live viewers, with another 30,000 watching the opera on demand afterward, according to publicist Louise Barder.

John Terauds

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