Yesterday evening I got one of the most special treats since I've come to Toronto. The Luminato Festival hosted an evening with composer Philip Glass at Dr. Stewart's famous Integral House on Roxborough Drive. Hearing Glass perform his own music at the piano was quite special and chatting about his music and future operas at dinner afterwards even more so. I don't usually use this kind of language, but he is one of the coolest guys I've ever met. I'm very happy that Luminato will present his opera Einstein on the Beach in 2012.
In the meantime at the COC we're in full speed for the preparation of our spring season. Andrew Davis and Robert Carsen are both starting rehearsals today for Ariadne auf Naxos and Orfeo, respectively, together with such fabulous artists as Neil Armfield (our director for Ariadne), Adrianne Pieczonka, Richard Margison, Jane Archibald, Alice Coote, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Lawrence Zazzo and last, but certainly not least, Harry Bicket. La Cenerentola is ahead of Ariadne and Orfeo and will start rehearsal on stage at the Four Seasons Centre on Thursday.
Also, if you're interested in this kind of thing, today would have been the great conductor Herbert von Karajan's 103rd birthday. The other day, on my plane from San Francisco to New York, I was listening to his marvelous recording of Tristan und Isolde with Jon Vickers (my favourite tenor, next to Caruso). They also collaborated on recordings of Die Walküre, Otello and Fidelio, all of them more than worth listening to.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Toronto / comments (1) / permalink
Happy New Year to all loyal old and potential new readers in 2011.
We began the year on a farm near Creemore with the whole program of cows, chicken, cats, dogs and a horse-drawn sleigh ride. There truly isn't a better way to make a three and a half year old happy.
At the COC we're in full preparation for our winter season now. Both productions, The Magic Flute and Nixon in China, are in rehearsals and if I include our tour of The Nightingale and Other Short Fables to New York there won't be a calm moment for most people in the company between now and early March. This will be followed almost immediately by our spring season with three different operas, La Cenerentola, Ariadne auf Naxos and Orfeo, so before we can take a good breath almost half of 2011 will be over already. And since we are just about to finish the calendar for our proposed 2014/15 season I start getting an idea of what I will be doing on my forty-first birthday. A slightly frightening thought, but for those of you who didn't suspect it already there really isn't anything like working in the performing arts. It should rather be called a life with (or sometimes despite) the performing arts. But then, looking at all the potential joys and satisfactions down the road, I am quite happy with that.
On another subject: If anybody could tell me where to find the best Galette des Rois here in Toronto that would really make my weekend. Have a good one.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Toronto / comments (4) / permalink
Looking back on a ghastly Sunday, when from my condo window in the King east neighbourhood the low clouds have taken my view of the city, everything from First Canadian Place to the new Ritz Carlton to the CN Tower, this probably was the calmest week I've had since my arrival in Toronto. No evening obligations whatsoever (a rare occasion for catching up with some gorgeous favourite music), except for yesterday's fabulous black tie Christmas dinner at one of the COC's most longstanding supporters' homes, much less formal than it sounds and the true highlight of the Holiday season with a wonderful group of intelligent and interesting people whose company is both an inspiration and a privilege, Christmas carol singing with professional help from COC chorus members included.
Also a bit more in the unusual category for this coming week will be my first ever speech in French, for the Club Canadien on Tuesday, at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel at noon. With a bit more fine-tuning tomorrow I should be ready. I think there are tickets on sale for this event. Just in case you want to check on my French. The title of the speech is: Divertissement et recherche sur la condition humaine - l'opéra au 21e siècle.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Toronto / comments (2) / permalink
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