Toronto's New Four Seasons Centre Gets Thumbs Up

Classic Arts News   Toronto's New Four Seasons Centre Gets Thumbs Up
The verdict is in on Canada's first true opera house — and it's a good one.

After the June 14 inaugural gala concert, The Globe and Mail said, "The hall sounded like a winner. It's got a very attractive resonance, flattering to all parts of the orchestra and especially to voices on stage. The sound is warm and a bit contained, but without dryness. It is clear enough to expose every section of the orchestra (a challenging asset), and to give maximum transparency to sung or spoken text."

The Canadian Opera Company orchestra's performance of Wagner excerpts "hinted at the power and delicacy of sound available from the hall's enormous pit," according to the paper.

The Toronto Star described the insulated auditorium, which was designed as a separate structure within the outer building to eliminate noise from the nearby subway, as "acoustically pitch-perfect."

The program last night featured Canada's current operatic superstar, Heldentenor Ben Heppner, as well as soprano Adrianne Pieczonka and baritones Gerald Finley and Brett Polegato; the program included excerpts from Weber's Der Freisch‹tz, Mozart's Don Giovanni, Rossini's Barber of Seville and Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin.

The 2,000-seat, C$150 million venue's brick exterior has been described as "boxy" and "almost dour" in the Canadian media. It has a five-story atrium with transparent walls, which expose the main lobby to passersby, and an illuminated glass staircase. Architect Jack Diamond told the CBC, "Opera has been described as the art form born with the silver spoon in its mouth. We wanted to get away from that as much as possible."

The venue, which began construction in 2003, is Canada's first theater built expressly for opera; it will also house the National Ballet of Canada. Two more "Celebratory Concerts" will be given tonight and tomorrow; following a few educational events over the summer, the Four Seasons Centre will kick into high gear beginning September 12 with Canada's first performances of Wagner's complete Ring cycle.

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