45 minutes of Gianmarco Segato, Alia Rosenstock, Joseph So and myself discussing opera awards, crossover “artists”, the oft proclaimed death of the art song recital, the new opera house in St. Petersburg and consolidation in the recording industry.
Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites is a strange and compelling piece. Dramatically it is very “slow burn” with a narrative arc that builds over almost two hours to a final scene of searing intensity. Without that final scene the piece would have no reason but it justifies all and only one “fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils” could possibly leave the theatre unmoved. It’s not just moving, done well it’s emotionally devastating. And that’s the state I left the Four Seasons Centre in last night after a near perfect performance of Robert Carsen’s extraordinary production.
Last night the Talisker Players and guest artists presented a series of readings and vocal pieces on the theme of winged creatures. It was a very varied programme with the readings, winningly read by actor R.H. Thomson, ranging from Albert Manguel to Peter Matthiessen. The readings also provided time for the set-up to be changed between numbers with minimum tedium.
The music was also very varied, ranging from Telemann to John Plant’s Sandpiper of 2011 with the rest being drawn from 20th century works from Pärt, Copland, Hoiby, Gideon and Foss. The ensemble changed constantly with various combinations of strings, woodwind, piano, continuo and percussion. Continue reading →
English National Opera’s new season includes two Christopher Alden productions that originated at COC. Die Fledermaus is brilliant and a must see. Rigoletto may be a bit more of an acquired taste though it certainly has its strong points. The London cast for Fledermaus doesn’t look as strong (to me) as the Toronto cast but the Rigoletto has the estimable Quinn Kelsey in the title role, Barry Banks as the Duke and Anna Christy as Gilda.
The latest edition of Opera Canada is out and I have an article in it. This is not exactly my first foray into print but it is the first time I’ve published anything about opera. (Previous articles have appeared in various political and business journals and the current WIP is aimed at the Journal of Oncology Practice). Anyway, my piece is a review of a semi-staged performance of Handel’s Orlando. The real reason to buy the thing though is Lydia Perović’s (She of Definitely the Opera) article on the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra.
Richard Strauss’ Salome opens April 21st at Canadian Opera Company in a production by Atom Egoyan. Curiously, this is a piece I know well in three languages as besides the Hedwig Lachmann German translation I own a bilingual edition containing both the original French text and Wilde’s own English translation. My copy is one of a limited edition published by the Limited Edition Club in 1938. It contains the English text with reproductions of the original Beardsley illustrations as well as a separate volume of the French text illustrated with pochoirs by Fauvist André Derain. Here’s an example.
There are a dozen photos of text and illustrations from the French volume here for people who like that sort of thing.
Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker’s A History of Opera: The Last Four Hundred Years, published in 2010,is an interesting and, occasionally, perplexing read. It looks at developments largely from a musicological perspective only rarely straying into political context and even morer rarely dealing with sociological factors surrounding opera although there is an interesting short section on French grand opéra that deals with the extent to which French opera of various kinds was subsidised and how the odd social habits of the audience shaped the works themselves.