Robert Harris curates the most intriguing offerings in Toronto's fall opera lineup.
There's only one way to save this masterpiece: wrestle all its improbabilities and dramatic lapses into submission with great singing that taps into the musical drama of the score. Game, set, match to this stellar cast of the Verdi classic – Russell Braun, Ramon Vargas, Elza van den Heever and Elena Manistina. Against their combined talent, the dopey libretto doesn't stand a chance. Canadian Opera Company, Four Seasons Centre, Oct. 10, 13, 19, 21, 25, 28, 31.
Opera Atelier have been providing us with sumptuous and imaginative 17th- and 18th-century operatic revivals for decades. Now, they've succumbed to the temptation that befalls all period ensembles – the 19th century. Weber's 1821 Die Freischutz was the opera that thrust Romanticism onto the German stage – eventually leading to Wagner's Tristan and beyond. Spooky, drenched in forest magic, the production opens up new vistas for the always imaginative Opera Atelier. And it never hurts that the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra is your pit band. Opera Atelier, Elgin Theatre, Oct. 27, 28, 30, 31, Nov. 2, 3.
La Vida Breve
One of the Toronto Symphony's fall productions still qualifies as an opera highlight – a concert staging of Manuel De Falla's classic La Vida Breve. Premiered in 1913, the two-act opera is noted for the amount of orchestral music in the score, and traverses every Spanish stereotype in the book. But it is nonetheless an important classic. Famed Spanish conductor Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos leads a semi-staged production including the requisite flamenco dancer and castanets. Any production of this opera is rare, and this one should be exciting as well.
Roy Thomson Hall, Nov. 1, 3.