Monday, 18 February 2019


It is the gala event of the season: a star-studded concert and award ceremony presented by the Glenn Gould Foundation and the Canadian Opera Company (COC) will award, this Wednesday, February 20, the prestigious Glenn Gould Prize – the Canadian Foundations' biennial highest honor in recognition of extraordinary artistic and humanitarian contributions to the arts - to American opera legend Jessye Norman.

The beloved septuagenarian proved a dominating force on the operatic stage throughout much of the the 20th century, (and later as a sought-after recitalist) beginning at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1969 as Elisabeth in Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser.

Norman's vocal range, in it's prime, proved so expansive the diva's voice type - commonly described as a dark, lush, dramatic soprano – was considered by many vocal experts (and remains still), as undefinable: a perfect compliment to the barricade-smashing diva's insistence on not being "pigeon-holed" in the press.

The 73 year old African-American powerhouse will accept the prestigious award as it's 12th recipient Wednesday evening on the stage of Toronto's Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts by Jury chair and American actor Viggo Mortensen during a special gala concert honoring the singer in which Norman's renowned colleagues – including fellow operatic legend Nina Stemme - are slated to perform alongside the COC Orchestra. The entire affair is scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm.

Norman will add the Glenn Gould Prize - whose past recipients include Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Canadian singer/songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen, and minimalist composer Philip Glass - to an already impressive array of past honors which include, but are not limited to, France's Legion d'honneur, awarded to the songstress in 1989; the American National Medal of Arts, the nation's highest honor given to artists and patrons, bestowed to Norman in 2009; and the Kennedy Center Honors - then as the youngest recipient in its history, awarded to Jessye in 1997.

There remains, at the time of writing this post, a chance to score seats for this once-in-a lifetime event.

For details and to purchase tickets, visit

Watch below an inpromptu performance by Norman singing Elisabeth's Greeting (Dich Teure Halle) from the opera that launched her critically acclaimed career - Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser:

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Wednesday, 6 February 2019


Alessandro Scarlatti
Boston's famed Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum – home to the largest unsolved and most infamous major art heists in history – is to play host to what is believed to be the first modern staging of 17th century Italian composer Alessandro Scarlatti's 1697 3-act dramma per musica “La Caduta de'Decemviri,” performed by the period ensemble known as ACRONYM and a young operatic cast featuring countertenor Daniel Moody.

The opera, which set in ancient Rome, details the plight of the Plebeian Verginia (Virginia) – made a political pawn through the duplicitous machinations of the Appio Claudio (Appius Claudius) and his ruling counterparts, the Decemvirs (a ten-man committee chosen to draw up Roman law) – after she rejects the former's advances.

Whilst the opera has remained until now, unstaged in any modern venue, the score itself was published by Harvard in 1980 in a compilation of the composer's operatic works. La Caduta... is the first of several collaborations between Scarlatti and librettist Silvio Stampiglia.[1]

The performance at the Museum will serve to draw further attention to a recent, temporary acquisition on the same subject via the arrival of Botticelli's “Story of Virginia,” scheduled to arrive from Bergamo's Accademia Carrara four days following the premiere, on Valentine's Day, to be included in the Gardner's forthcoming exhibition on the artist, "Botticelli: Heroines + Heroes" (which runs from 14 February until 19 May, 2019 in the museum's Hostetter Gallery.) The impending arrival marks the first time the master's “Story of Virginia” has set foot on U.S. soil.

The Story of Virginia by Italian Early Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli, 1500-1504

The latter event is being heavily touted by the museum as a multi-layered historical event – not only is the first modern performance of Scarlatti's opera - itself based on the same subject matter as Botticelli's never-before-seen-in-America masterpiece a major coup for the Gardner – it marks the first time Botticelli's painting will “reunite” with the master's “Story of Lucretia,” acquired by Isabella Stewart Gardner herself in 1894, who subsequently brought the painting to Boston – in effect, introducing into the United States the nation's very first Botticelli.

Listen below to the overture of Scarlatti's La Caduta, performed by the period ensemble Charivari Agréable:

[1]Stampiglia provided libretti for eight of Scarlatti's operas, including L'Eraclea (1700), Tito Sempronio Gracco (1702), Turno Aricino (1704), Lucio Manlio L'Imperioso (1706) and L'amor Generoso (co-librettist, Giuseppe Papis, 1714.)

For further information on the exhibit "Botticelli: Heroines + Heroes," or to purchase an exhibition catalogue, visit