TORONTO CONCERT REVIEWS

Music reviews of the finest concerts in Toronto:
​symphonic, choral, opera, chamber, jazz and period music​

The cast was magnificent. The eleven leads and thirteen chorus members were totally convincing both vocally and dramatically. Jonelle Sills, (Rosalinde) and Lynn Isnar (Adele), were particularly splendid in their soprano roles. Among the men, Adam Harris (Dr. Falke), and Kjel Erickson (Eisenstein) had outstanding performances. The remaining leads in the superb cast were Kendra Dyck, Jacques Arsenault, Zachary Rioux, Noah Grove, Rachel Miller, Stefan Vidovic and Justin Maisonnuve. The thirteen members of the chorus had a mature, full sound in their ensemble singing. This was a production that demanded character development that goes far beyond what one normally sees in opera. Each member of  the cast seemed to revel in the opportunity.

The orchestra was magnificent. It performed in a Viennese style that would rival most professional opera orchestras. It gave a sparkle to the performance. From the overture’s opening fanfares and love themed oboe solo, one could sit back and enjoy the Viennese dance music of Strauss. A member of the orchestra commented to me that everyone had an amazingly intense experience working with conductor Nathan Brock. Violinist Leslie Ashworth said “He is quite a perfectionist. We have had six-hour day rehearsals. Even right down to the end of the dress rehearsal we were working on different spots to make sure the orchestra was working together as a whole. It has been quite an honour to work with him.” His detailed high expectations were exemplified in the notes he left on each stand following the dress rehearsal. According to Ashworth, it was a special experience working with singers and adjusting tempos and dynamics to what was happening on stage.

The Glenn Gould School is to be congratulated for both the fine product and the incredibly important process for the student performers who will no doubt be fulfilling similar roles on the great stages of the world. The Royal Conservatory Orchestra will have its final concert of the season on Friday April 20th at Koerner Hall when the Music Director of the Canadian Opera Company, Johannes Debus will conduct.​

This week at Koerner Hall, the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory mounted its annual fully staged showcase opera with two performances of Johann Strauss II’s comic operetta Die Fledermaus. Without the benefit of a proscenium stage, fly curtains, and wings that would greatly ease a traditional production, GGS took the operetta in a new direction that at once brought it into the 21st century while keeping the musical integrity of its popular score. It was a hit with the audience and it enriched the musical and theatrical training of the performers.


Director Joel Ivany re-imagined the work as a play within a play in which the opening act saw the audience sitting in on a rehearsal. Each of the characters played the part of actors arriving at the rehearsal with their own personal life baggage. The creative team led by Director Joel Ivany, who re-wrote the spoken sections of the libretto, made the production work by developing stereotypically comical characters. There was the egotistical stage director, the insecure soprano, the one who came late for rehearsal, and even a recently separated couple in the group.

GGS is to be given credit for searching out a very talented team of creative leadership. Joel Ivany has quickly become one of Canada’s leading operatic directors known for his imaginative and transformative productions. Conductor Nathan Brock, took time from his position as kapellmeister of the Hamburgische Staatsoper. The team also included Jason Hand, lighting designer; Snezana Pesic, set designer; Ming Wong, costume designer; Matjash Mrozewski, choreographer; Brahm Goldhamer, répétiteur; Samuel Tam, Assistant Conductor, Dana Fradkin, assistant director; Lesley Abarquez Bradley, stage manager; Andreane Christiansen, assistant stage manager; Kaitlyn Smith, assistant stage manager; Aislinn Ritchie, surtitles assistant and Wendy Churton, production manager. Each of these professionals is working in the real world of opera and theatre and contributed to the thoroughly professional environment for the young artists on stage and in the orchestra. 

​​Review by David Richards

Toronto ON March 17th 2018

Jonelle Sills as Rosalinde
​Kjel Erickson as Gabriel Von Eisenstein,
​Carl Lyons as the waiter
​T
he Glenn Gould School's Die Fledermaus;
Photo Credit: The Royal Conservatory
Lisa Sakulensky Photos 

Die Fledermaus: a triumph for the Glenn Gould School


Ensemble
​The Glenn Gould School's Die Fledermaus;
Photo Credit: The Royal Conservatory
​Lisa Sakulensky Photos 

​Noah Grove as Frank, Lynn Isnar as Adele 

The Glenn Gould School's Die Fledermaus;
Photo Credit: The Royal Conservatory
​Lisa Sakulensky Photos