What’s become of David McVicar? His 2015 production of Giodarno’s Andrea Chénier for the Royal Opera House seems typical of his recent work. It looks expensive. It features a starry cast. He flirts with dramatic risk but in the last analysis it comes off as a bit tame and even sloppy. Basically when the principals are at the centre of the drama it’s compelling stuff but when they are not it’s not and there are curious inconsistencies.
Sorry if, after the preview listing, anyone was expecting a review of Karina Gauvin and Tafelmusik last night. I was scheduled to go but, for only the second time ever, I had to bail. I have a cough that should not be inflicted on any concert venue or audience. If things improve in the next 48 hours I’ll try and catch one of the later shows.
ETA: Hacking cough developed into flu like symptoms through Friday and Saturday. On the mend today I think but still not safe to be let loose in a concert hall.
It’s that time of year when one looks back at the previous twelve months and reflects. It’s also customary to produce “best of” lists and the like. So here goes.
In terms of fully staged, large-scale opera productions it wasn’t an especially eventful year. The COC staged six solid, enjoyable productions but nothing that would hit my list of all time favourites. There was open criticism of Tcherniakov’s Don Giovanni from the usual suspects and more behind the scenes muttering about Pyramus and Thisbe but I thought both shows were examples of things that needed to happen. We need more contemporary opera and we need bolder takes on established classics. I wrote at length on why I thought the Don Giovanni received such a high degree of scrutiny, often from people who had reviewed Opera Atelier’s Alcina the year before, apparently oblivious to the liberties that were taken there! If I had to pick a favourite from the COC’s line up it would likely be Robert Lepage’s production of Schoenberg’s Erwartung featuring a stellar one woman performance by Krisztina Szabó. Opera Atelier’s offerings were, frankly, so much like virtually every other Opera Atelier production since the Flood as to leave anyone trying to write about them pretty desperate. OA watching has become a bit like Kremlinology. The most minute things are blown up into issues for want of anything else to write about!
The Fall 2015 Opera Canada is out. No performance reviews by me in this one but I do have a profile of countertenor Daniel Cabena and reviews of three CDs; Adrianne Pieczonka singing Wagner and Strauss, Bud Roach singing Italian renaissance songs accompanying himself on guitar and a rerelease of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Resurrection. Lots of good stuff by other people too of course!
So further to my rant the other day about the ROH and ENO approach to their cinema broadcasts in Canada and the Met’s lock up with Cineplex Odious…
Suppose one were responsible for marketing the Royal Opera or ENO’s product in Canada what would you do? Personally I wouldn’t worry about signing up loads of suburban and small town fleapits. I’d go for the where the opera audience is in the downtown areas of the cities that have opera companies and maybe university towns. I’d also go for the upscale theatres with decent sound and bars with decent beer and that sort of thing. In Toronto that would be the TIFF Lightbox and Bloor Hot Docs. Elsewhere I don’t know but I’d like to push the idea with the ROH marketing folks so any ideas on the “right” cinemas in Montreal or Vancouver or even Hamilton would be most welcome.
So this week instead of hobnobbing with the rich and famous over wine and canapés in tony North Toronto I was slumming it with the kool kids on Queen West. Specifically I was at a fund raiser to help send Amanda Smith to intern with Robert Lepage (and maybe bring her back again).