The Devil Inside

I met with Tapestry Artistic Director Michael Mori earlier today to talk about the upcoming co-production with Scottish Opera of Stuart MacRae and Louise Welsh’s new opera The Devil Inside.  I’m not familiar with the work of either composer or librettist but each are well regarded in their own spheres; Welsh having made a name for herself with a number of psychological crime novels.  And that seems like a good background for adapting Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Bottle Imp on which the opera is loosely based. The story itself is extremely creepy.  Right up there in fact with, say, James’ The Turn of the Screw, which got turned into a pretty decent opera!

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Talking with Wallis Giunta

wallis2.jpgGGS and Ensemble Studio graduate Wallis Giunta will be returning to Toronto in early February for Tapestry Opera’s New Opera 101 program and the two concerts of Tapestry Songbook VI.  Basically, she will be working with Jordan de Souza and a group of emerging artists on a three day series of workshops in contemporary opera which will include two concerts open to the public on February 5th and 6th.  I spoke to her via Skype yesterday at her current digs in Leipzig.

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Chatting with Liz Caballero

caballero-webLiz Caballero is an American soprano of Cuban origin.  Like many successful professional singers she never really planned to be one.  Opera wasn’t part of her childhood experience as a Cuban refugee in Southern Florida.  Like many young people she sang in school and church choirs and often got to take solo roles but she didn’t have a voice lesson until she was at university.  Her break came in 1995 when, on a whim, she entered the Pavarotti International Voice Competition in Miami and made it to the finals in Philadelphia.  Pavarotti encouraged her to develop her raw talent which led to stints in young artists programs in Miami and San Francisco and to her current busy career mainly singing Puccini and Verdi roles in US regional houses.

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In conversation with FAWN’s Amanda Smith and Adam Scime

lhommeI met with Adam Scime and Amanda Smith of FAWN Chamber Creative today to talk about chamber opera in general and their upcoming show L’Homme et le Ciel in particular.  There are several questions that are exercising the minds of many people in the opera community as they try to create in and for the space that lies between the COC and an out of tune piano in a pub and that has value beyond providing performance opportunities for the participants.

There’s probably a rough consensus that the answer lies in “chamber opera” but less unanimity on what that means either in terms of forces employed or repertoire.  Equally, there are differing views on where the potential audience is to be found.  So where does FAWN sit on these issues?

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Weaving a Tapestry

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Not Michael Mori

I met with Michael Mori of Tapestry Opera on Friday ostensibly to talk about their upcoming season but, as these things tend to, we covered a lot more ground than that.  As far as the season goes I have only a little to add to the previous piece I wrote on this subject.  I can confirm that there will be no LibLab or Tapestry Shorts in 2015/16.  Michael feels that the process has already produced enough composer/librettist connections to allow it to be scaled back to every other year which frees up more time/funds for other projects.  This is clear from this season’s exciting line up with two fully staged chamber operas.

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Guilt by dissociation

dmeI met with Alaina Viau, Artistic Director of Loose TEA Theatre, earlier today to discuss her upcoming show Dissociative Me; a transladaptation™(*) of Gounod’s Faust.  We started by exploring the reasons why one might choose transladaptation rather than either a “straight” production or simply a radical restaging à la Herheim or Tcherniakov.  The starting point for Alaina, one that I completely share, is that certain works are so problematic that they can’t realistically be presented “straight” and still do the things that “art” is supposed to do; stimulate, challenge etc.  If a work contains elements that have so radically changed meaning since the original composition that one must treat it as a museum piece or intellectually disengage to make a piece tolerable then, we both believe, something has to be done.  I realise that there are those who can enjoy, for instance, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly; a squalid tale of paedophilia and sex tourism, at a superficial level but count me out there.

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Talking to Lucia Cesaroni and Adrian Kramer about Extensions of Us

cesaroni2kramerI spoke earlier today with Lucia Cesaroni and Adrian Kramer (via Skype to the west coast where Lucia is appearing with Pacific Opera Victoria) about their upcoming “recital” Extensions of Us; Melody and Movement at the Extension Room on November 13th.  It’s pretty much received wisdom that in Toronto the traditional art song recital is dying or maybe already dead.  Certainly audiences have declined and the format seems unable to draw the younger audience, even of opera goers.  I asked Lucia and Adrian about the motivation and inspiration for their show and also asked them to tell me a little more about what we are going to see and hear.

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