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CRITIC'S PICKS | 11 Concerts You Should Absolutely See This Week

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For the week of May 22 to 28

Classical music and opera events happening in and around Toronto for the week of May 22 to 28. (Photo: Dario Acosta)
Classical music and opera events happening in and around Toronto for the week of May 22 to 28. (Photo: Dario Acosta)

Musical Toronto’s weekly Critic’s Picks are a fully curated list of some of the best concerts happening now through the end of the week. This is not to say we are the provocateurs of taste, but simply seek to provide a good weekly summary. For a look at the full breadth of what’s available in and around Toronto, check out our curated concert listings here: Musical Toronto Datebook.

Tuesday 23

Against the Grain Theatre | La bohème. Tranzac Club, 292 Brunswick Avenue. 8 pm. (Repeats May 25, 27, 29, 31, and June 2) SOLD OUT with $35 same day rush tickets at the door.

This is the show that propelled the edgy, iconoclastic Against the Grain Theatre to fame six years ago. This La bohème revival features different singers:  Kimy McLaren (Mimi), Owen McCausland (Rodolfo), Andrew Love (Marcello), and Adanya Dunn (Musetta). It has time and place-shifted to modern day Toronto, with an English libretto written by director Joel Ivany. Instead of Café Momus in Paris, it’s the Tranzac Club in the Annex! A fun show when I saw it six years ago. | Full listing info found here.

Wednesday 24

Royal Conservatory | 21C Music Festival (May 24-28)

21C Music Festival is the annual celebration of new music, put on by the Royal Conservatory of Music. This year, it celebrates the 150th anniversary of Canada. Nine concerts and 21+ premieres in a span of five days. Single tickets start at $21. Full Festival Pass is $179 (Koerner Hall Concert Pass $149). Among the events are COC Orchestra conducted by Johannes Debus (May 24); Canadian Art Song Project (May 25); Cecilia String Quartet (May 25); Angèle Dubeau and La Pietà (May 26) and the Music of Unsuk Chin (May 28). | Visit the website for details.

Canadian Opera Company | Chamber Music Series: 2017 TSMF Preview. Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. 12 p.m. Free. First come, first served.

A major event in town every summer is the Toronto Summer Music Festival. This noon hour concert offers a sneak peek, with new TSMF Artistic Director Jonathan Crow. He happens to be the TSO Concertmaster. On the program are works by Debussy, Elgar, Bach, Ravel, Dvořák and Gary Kulesha. Be sure to line up an hour ahead to get a seat. | Details here.

Musical Stage Company | Onegin. Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley St. $30-$59. 8 p.m. Repeats to June 4. Check website for details.

This is a contemporary musical theatre adaptation of Pushkin’s poem and Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin, with completely different music, written by Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille. It originally premiered to rave reviews in Vancouver. Runs to June 4. | Listing details found here.

Tapestry Opera | Oksana G. Imperial Oil Theatre, 227 Front St. E. 8 p.m. General Admission: $50; Reserved: $75; VIP: $175. Repeats May 26, 28 (3 p.m.), 30.

The world premiere of a new opera by Aaron Gervais with libretto by Colleen Murphy. Oksana G is the story of a young Ukrainian woman lured into the world of sex trafficking by a recruiter who unexpectedly falls in love with her. Directed by Tom Diamond and conducted by Jordan de Souza. Soprano Natalya Gennadi takes on the title role, in a large cast also featuring some familiar names – Keith Klassen, Adam Fisher, Krisztina Szabo, Kimberly Barber, Aaron Sheppard, Jacqueline Woodley, Alexander Hajek, Andrea Ludwig, Maria Soulis, Neil Craighead, and Cairan Ryan. This is an important and unique show that deserves to be seen. | See here for all the details.

Thursday 25

Jewish Music Week in Toronto | Spotlight on Glick. Heliconian Hall. 2 p.m. Free (ticket required) Lots of events scheduled, mostly non-classical.

An afternoon concert of music for women’s voices, piano, and strings by Canadian composer Srul Irving Glick, including his haunting We Are Children Just The Same, and his well-known Psalm Trilogy. Also on the program is Eric Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs. Ellen Meyer, piano; Beth Silver, cello; Cathie Goldberg, violin; Renee Bouthot, soprano and conductor. Lirit Women’s Chamber Choir. | Info here.

Friday 26

Toronto Symphony Orchestra | Beethoven Symphony No. 7. Roy Thomson Hall. 7:30 p.m. $33.75-$191. Repeats on May 27 (RTH) and 28 (George Weston Recital Hall, 3 p.m., Sold Out)

TSO Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis makes his annual return in these concerts, conducting Beethoven Symphony No. 7. French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet plays Grieg Piano Concerto. Also on the program are works by Delius, Griffes, and Canadian composer Chan Ka Nin. | Listing found here.

Saturday 27

Soulpepper Concert Series | Porgy and Bess in Concert. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, Distillery District, 50 Tank House Ln. 1:30 p.m. $25-$60. Runs to June 3.

The Gershwin masterpiece is presented here in concert, with a stellar cast that includes Jackie Richardson. Mike Ross is music director. | See here for details.

VOCA Chorus of Toronto | Carmina Burana. Eastminster United Church, 310 Danforth Ave. 7:30 p.m. $25.

Jenny Crober, artistic director of VOCA, leads soloists (soprano Elizabeth Polese, baritone Michael Nyby, tenor Christopher Mayell) in a concert performance of Carmina Burana. Other selections include works by Ola Gjeilo and Elise Letourneau. | Info here.

Sunday 28

Syrinx Concerts | Ishay Shaer in Concert. 3 p.m. Heliconian Hall. $30. Post-concert reception.

Israeli pianist Ishay Shaer plays works by Schubert and Prokofiev, as well as Canadian composer Jean Coulthard. | Full details found here.

Toronto Bach Festival | St. Mark Passion. St. Barnabas Anglican Church, 361 Danforth Ave.

Toronto Bach Festival Artistic Director John Abberger leads a distinguished group of soloists (sopranos Ellen McAtter and Agnes Zsigovics, alto Daniel Taylor, tenor Asitha Tennekoon and bass Brett Polegato) in St. Mark Passion. | Info here.


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Joseph So

Joseph So

Joseph So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University and Associate Editor of Opera Canada.He is also a long-time contributor to La Scena Musicale and Opera (London, UK). His interest in music journalism focuses on voice, opera as well as symphonic and piano repertoires. He appears regularly as a panel member of the Big COC Podcast.He has co-edited a book, Opera in a Multicultural World: Coloniality, Culture, Performance, published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).
Joseph So
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