Our saucy ship’s a beauty

hms_pinaforeAnd so is Michael Albano’s new production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore which opened last night at the MacMillan Theatre.  It’s been a long time since the UoT Opera Division did G&S but it was worth the wait.  Fred Perruzza’s straight forward unit set was really brought to life by a fast paced and lively production.  From the very beginning of the overture we had members of the crew cavorting and dancing (Choreographer Anna Theodosakis) in a  manner perhaps owing more to Broadway than D’Oyly Carte and the better for it!  The set, a quarter deck with a gallery, provided cabin doors and traps in the deck for characters to come and go (including conductor Sandra Horst appearing from “below” to take her bow).  And of coming and going and dancing there was plenty.  There were some more than decent dancers in the chorus too.

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Good news, bad news from the Royal Conservatory

Good news:  There’s a Black Friday sale on a wide range of upcoming concerts.  Discount code BLFR14 gets you 20% off.  It doesn’t cover everything but it’s pretty long list.  Valid Friday only for both telephone bookings (416.408.0208) or buy tickets online at www.performance.rcmusic.ca

Bad news:  Marcello Giordano’s recital on December 13th is off due to a family medical emergency.

The guys have it

Last night saw the second annual Centre Stage at the COC.  It’s described as the “Ensemble Studio competition gala”, which is pretty much what it has become.  It’s a dressy occasion and busier this year than last.  Bussing in the claque from the University of Toronto upped both the noise level and the “beautiful young people” content.  The competition itself is fairly conventional in that all the singers get to sing two arias of their choice.  What’s a little different is that the accompaniment is the full COC Orchestra and as well as the jury prizes there’s an audience choice award facilitated by some neat electronics.  Then of course there’s always the issue of a place in next year’s Ensemble Studio.

Ensemble Studio Competition finalists and winners with Centre Stage host Ben Heppner

Ensemble Studio Competition finalists and winners with Centre Stage host Ben Heppner

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Rob Kapilow’s Christmas offering

PolarGertrude pr FINAL VERSIONSo it’s that time of year when Christmas records start appearing.  The latest to come my way consists of musical settings by Rob Kapilow of Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express and Dr. Seuss’ Gertrude McFuzz.  Yes, it’s American and aimed at kids and if you were to place it on a spectrum of Christmas music that ran from Frosty the Snowman to Carols from King’s it would be decidedly closer to the former. Continue reading

Dense and dramatic Ariadne

Claus Guth’s 2006 production of Ariadne auf Naxos recorded at the Opernhaus Zürich in 2006 is a compelling piece of theatre.  It’s one of those Regietheater pieces that combines a workable concept with compelling Personenregie to create a whole that’s extremely illuminating.  The entire Vorspiel is played out, in modern dress, in front of a grey curtain.  We get an immediate idea of how Guth is going to explore/exploit metatheatricality as soon as the Haushofmeister appears.  He’s played by none other than Zürich Intendant Alexander Pereira.  Who is calling the shots?  This is reinforced when he drops the bombshell that the opera seria must be combined with Zerbinetta’s farce.  This speech is delivered by Pereira from among his guests in the Intendant’s box.  It’s very clever.  But there’s so much more going on during the Vorspiel.  The Komponist is getting seriously deranged; perhaps even more so after he begins his infatuation with Zerbinetta.  There’s a moment when it looks like a love triangle is being set up.  The diva just gives one look that suggests that she’s got her eyes on the Komponist.  It’s a typical moment.  A look, a gesture, seems to convey so much.  It all concludes with the deranged Komponist shooting himself.

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A few more news items

isis-1112-015-website-smallThere’s a performance of Dean Burry’s children’s opera The Scorpion’s Sting on Saturday 29th November at 11am at the ROM.  It’s free with museum entrance and forms part of an Ancient Egypt themed day of special presentations.  It’s being performed by the COC Ensemble Studio and is suitable for kids aged 8-14 or thereabouts.  More details here.

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We sail the ocean blue

kwNext week the University of Toronto Opera Division will be staging HMS Pinafore; the first Gilbert and Sullivan at the MacMillan for 25 years.  There are four performances; at 7.30pm on the 27th, 28th and 29th and a 2.30pm matinée on the 30th.  Following UoT practice it is double cast.  The cast for the 27th and 29th includes Charles Sy, a finalist in the COC’s Centre Stage next week as well, and Karine White.  They are probably the two singers from UoT who have most impressed me this year and are definitely worth hearing.  Michael Albano directs and Sandra Horst conducts.  Tickets are $40 adult, $25 senior, $10 student.