Le Rossignol et la Rose is Collectif’s first show. It’s another take on how to make art song more interesting and attract a new audience. The formula this time is to stage a series of songs with an implied linking narrative in a funky space. It worked pretty well. The B Lounge is a basement lounge/club next door to a boxing gym. It’s scruffy but comfortable with enough space for performance in and around the audience. There’s a bar.
The show linked songs by Poulenc, Debussy, Fauré, Weill, Koechlin, Berlioz and Paladilhe with a love triangle narrative. There’s something going on between the soprano Clarice (Danika Lorèn) and the gender fluid mezzo Paulette (Whitney O’Hearn) which is upset by the arrival of ingenue Yvette (Jennifer Krabbe). Jealousy and poison ensue. The soprano dies… of course. Piano accompaniment is ably provided by Tom King who gets to act occasionally as the character Jacques as well as coping with the Tranzac standard instrument.
It worked pretty well with some fine singing and interesting ways of sharing some of the songs between more than one character. Danika continues to impress with her rich tone and easy upper register. She also showed she can act and actually do “spiteful” pretty well when needs be. Whitney and Jennifer are pretty solid singers too. Whitney, in particular, would probably go down very well with the usual mezzomaniacs.
Highlights? I really liked the version of Weill’s Youkali that finished off the first set. Led off by Danika in suitably disillusioned style, the others joined in to good effect as things progressed. It’s a great piece. Danika also produced a really dramatic version of Berlioz’ Le spectre de la rose without compromising the beauty of the voice.
Thoughts? Pity there weren’t more people there. Not sure about the utility of printed translations of texts in a darkened performance space. Maybe a plot summary? Not sure about that it may be better to let the audience work it out.
It’s a good first effort from a young group and there’s another chance to see it tonight if you aren’t Messiahing. 8pm at the Loft 404 B Lounge at 263 Adelaide Street West. Tickets are $20 online or at the door.