Running a little late here

Back in January I saw Opera 5’s show Modern (Family) Opera at the Arts and Letters Club. I didn’t review it here because I was covering it for Opera Canada.  It seems that there was some breakdown in communication, probably the dodgy email connection at our temporary digs last winter, and it never made it to the mag and so wasn’t printed.  It’s a pity as it was a good show and so, belatedly, I’m sticking the review here, for the record, instead.

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Dissociative Me

Gounod’s Faust is very French, stuffed with a specifically Catholic religiosity and has all the elements, welcome or not, of 19th century French opera; it’s long, it has ballet, there are interpolated drinking songs etc.  Alaina Viau and Markus Kopp’s adaptation Dissociative Me, presented by LooseTEA Music Theatre, is none of these things (OK there’s an interpolated drinking song, Stan Rogers even, but at least it happens in a bar) and it’s all the better for that.

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Hunchback Hoffmann

Giancarlo del Monaco’s production of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann recorded in Bilbao in 2006 isn’t nearly as weird as the interviews on the first disk might lead one to expect.  It has its moments but in many ways is more “by the book” than the Laurent Pelly production I looked at last week.  The interviews talk of a “Sartrian” Hoffmann and a Freudian approach to Antonia.  Ok so Hoffmann is portrayed as a hunchback and he’s fairly damaged but he’s basically your standard drunk poet fixated on a woman or women he can’t have.  I can’t actually see this dude nailing his hand to a nightclub table with a knife or drowning his cat to prove a point.

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Opera for the young and young at heart

bremenTwo listings in in the last 24 hours.  COC is staging a couple of “family friendly” events.  On Saturday, November 14th, they are presenting Dean Burry’s The Bremen Town Musicians (11am) and interactive opera Operation Superpower (1.30pm). Starring the young artists of the COC Ensemble Studio, both operas are written specifically for young people aged 3 to 12. Each opera is 45 minutes in length, followed by a 15-minute Q&A with the cast and crew. Both performances take place at the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre at 227 Front St. E., Toronto, Ontario.  There’s the opportunity to take part in “hands-on activities” related to the operas an hour before each show.  Tickets to each opera are $15 for adults, and $10 for children.  More info at coc.ca. Continue reading

Lauren Pelly’s weird, dour Tales of Hoffmann

Laurent Pelly’s 2013 production of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann at the Liceu is one of those productions that’s a bit hard to take in at first go.  Part of it is the performing edition used (Michael Kay and Jean-Christophe Keck) which seems to have added a lot of dialogue compared to any version I’ve seen before and includes Hoffmann killing Giulietta in Act 3.  This produces a constant sense of “where they heck are we in the piece”.  It doesn’t help that the DVD package contains no explanatory material at all.  There are no interviews on the disks and the documentation is sub-basic.

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