This week we have VOICEBOX’s presentation of Handel’s Rodelinda. It’s a great cast with Christina Haldane, Charles Sy and Alex Dobson among others. Also it’s chamber orchestra not piano. That’s on Sunday at 2.30pm at the Jane Mallett Theatre. On Thursday the noon concert in the RBA is McGill’s Schulich Singers. They will present works by Henk Badings, Eric Whitacre, John Corigliano, Dan Forrest, and others. Not sure that’s my thing but each to his/her own. That evening at 8pm in the Dancemakers’ Studio at the Distillery it’s Tapestry Briefs: Winter Shorts. This is a show of excerpts from concepts and works in progress. It’s always interesting and often very funny. I think the opening show is probably sold out but there are further performances on Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Saturday and Sunday at 4pm (for those brave enough to face the Christmas Market hordes).
Voice of a Nation is a Métis inspired collection of works that has been touring Ontario as part of the Canada 150 thing. Last night the Toronto leg of the tour happened at Grace Toronto Church. There are three pieces in the program. Different Perspectives is a setting by Ian Cusson of a text synthesized from the sometimes surprising reactions of a group of young people asked “what Canada meant to them”. It was designed to be sung by community choirs on the tour and last night was given by three (uncredited) female singers accompanied by the thirteen player Toronto Concert Orchestra under Kerry Stratton.
For quite some time I have wondered whether it’s possible to reinterpret Puccini’s Tosca or whether the specificity as to time and place in the libretto makes it effectively impossible? Indeed I had never even seen it tried. All this despite the many and obvious anachronisms in the libretto. All the Toscas I had seen were clearly set in Rome in that one week in 1800 (or at least the implausible version of it that’s contained in the libretto)! Phillip Himmelmann’s production for the 2017 Baden-Baden Easter Festival breaks the mould in giving it a contemporary, or perhaps near future, setting.
Signal boosting for the good folks at Against the Grain…
Against the Grain Theatre, Opera Columbus and Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity seeking members for virtual chorus extravaganza
Singers across the globe encouraged to submit videos to be considered for groundbreaking musical experiment
TORONTO — Against the Grain Theatre, along with co-producers Opera Columbus in Columbus, Ohio, and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Alberta, are developing Christoph Willibald Gluck’s most famous work, Orphée et Eurydice (Berlioz version). Premiering in 1762, the opera was in the vanguard, changing the way that the musical form was experienced. This interpretation of the opera—while staying true to the music and feel of the Baroque original—will place the work firmly in the 21st century with new electronic orchestration, baroque burlesque dancers, sopranos singing from silks, and aerial dancers. Most importantly, the co-producers are seeking singers of all types who are interested in becoming part of the production’s virtual chorus.
The death of Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky was announced a couple of hours ago. It’s no secret that he had been suffering from brain cancer for some time but, still, 55 is far too young. I’ll remember him for one of the oddest recitals I’ve ever been to. Not that his performance was odd, rather it was excellent, but because his “fan club”, which appeared to be made up of Russian women of a certain age, were the noisiest people I have ever seen in Koerner Hall, on or off stage.
I went to Walter Hall last night to see a couple of Mahler works in chamber reduction played by the Faculty Artists Ensemble conducted by Uri Mayer. I think I like Mahler in chamber reduction a lot. With one instrument to a part complex textures become clearer. No doubt there are conductors that can produce that clarity with a big orchestra but there are also, sadly, too many who reduce it to a grisly stew of unidentified body parts. It also allows singers to be heard without screaming. The only time I want to hear a tenor sounding like a goat being slaughtered is in that Dean Burry piece. I guess chamber reduction might not work for, say, the 8th Symphony but for the orchestral song cycles, the 4th Symphony, and, I’d hazard a guess, the 2nd Symphony I like it just fine.
Here’s the blurb for a new piece being presented in Toronto this Thursday…
In 1885 Louis Riel proclaimed, “My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.” And so we bring you Voice of a Nation, an interdisciplinary concert featuring dance, orchestra, and theatre. Presented by Ontario’s première touring ensemble, the Toronto Concert Orchestra led by Kerry Stratton, in recognition of Canada’s 150th year, concert highlights include a new orchestral song-cycle based on the Métis poet Marilyn Dumont’s A Really Good Brown Girl, composed by Métis composer Ian Cusson, directed by Michael Mori, and sung by Métis Mezzo-Soprano Rebecca Cuddy; a reimagining of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire de Soldat by First Nations choreographer Aria Evans featuring the shapeshifting Trickster; and Perspectives, a new text by the Scarborough youth collective Couronne du Canada also composed by Cusson.
It’s at Grace Toronto Church on Jarvis at 7.30pm. Ticket details here here.