Toronto Mendelssohn Choir delivers a dramatically powerful Elijah

David Richards, Toronto Concert Reviews

Last night at Koerner Hall, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir celebrated conductor Noel Edison’s twentieth season at the choir’s helm with a stunningly powerful performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s iconic oratorio Elijah. Edison put together a formidable cast of soloists which together with the choir and orchestra, created a performance with all the passion one could imagine. 

The choir was in the best form I have heard in some time with clear diction, soaring phrases and dramatic outbursts. The 135 voices filled the hall with a huge sound, full of anger at times, and gloriously jubilant at others. The tonal pictures of a raging storm, an earthquake and a fire contrasted with a delicately sung “still small voice”. When the off-stage “angels” sang “Lift thine eyes”, the quietness in the hall was gripping. The heart-wrenching “He watching over Israel” was sung with warmth and tenderness.

From the opening introductory declamation by Elijah, bass-baritone Daniel Lichti in the title role ‘put it all out there’. His voice boomed; he had come ready to make his Elijah one to be remembered. For Lichti to step in at the last moment and perform with such authority was extraordinary. His masterful performance was matched by operatic superstar tenor Michael Schade in the role of Obadiah. The famous aria “If with all your hearts” was as musically moving as one could possibly imagine. Soprano Leslie Emma Bouza and mezzo-soprano Christina Stelmacovich balanced the voices of Lichti and Schade both dramatically and musically. Bouza’s “Hear ye Israel” was sung with clarity and tonal beauty. Stelmacovich was equally memorable in “O rest in the Lord”. Boy soprano, Sebastian Dumitrescu sang with a purity of tone while charming the audience in his role as the youth.

Read the full review on Toronto Concert Reviews.