I must admit that I approached the COC’s production of Handel’s Ariodante with some trepidation. I was concerned that a never-ending opera with a Byzantine plot and arias that sound like they were written by the Energizer Bunny (“it keeps on going, and going, and going …”) would turn out to be too much of a good thing.
Any music critic knows that honesty can be a harsh taskmaster. It seems to take on physical form, sitting on your shoulder like a little devil, ready to prod you if he catches you saying something kind or agreeable, rather than exactly what you think. And if you’re feeling ambivalent or conflicted about a performance, then he gives you no rest. “Clarify your ideas!”, he insists, with a nasty jab of his trident. “No fence-sitting or fuzzy thinking allowed!”
However, “ambivalent” and “conflicted” are exactly the right words to describe my own reaction to the Canadian Opera Company’s Norma, which I saw on Tuesday night.
It’s not surprising that the Toronto Symphony’s concert last Thursday was well attended. The soloist was Yuja Wang, who, at 29, is a bright star in the pianistic firmament. (Indeed, she was just named “Musician of the Year” by Musical America magazine.) For her, Toronto’s piano fans can be counted on to turn out in droves, no matter what repertoire she’s playing.
I'm a composer and writer based in Toronto – and this is my classical music blog, Eatock Daily.
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