Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation

Last night’s TSO program started off with a sort of Remembrance Day pot pourri; pipes, bugles, a bit of poetry, an excerpt of Vaughan Williams in between and finally a rather beautiful account of The Lark Ascending with Jonathan Crow playing the solo from high up in the Gallery.  Once upon a time the TSO would do Remembrance Day by performing an appropriate work or works, Britten’s War Requiem for example.  I think that might actually be a more effective way of remembering.

Jonathan Crow_The Lark Ascending (@Jag Gundu)

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Opera Atelier’s Médée

There are umpteen operas based more or less closely on the legends surrounding Medea, Jason, the Golden Fleece and the events afterwards in Corinth.  Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s 1693 version to a libretto by Corneille deals with the events in Corinth subsequent to Jason and Medea’s return with the fleece.  The plot, in essentials, is simplicity itself.  Jason is scheming to secure his future, and that of his children, by ditching Médée and marrying the king’s daughter Créuse.  Médée is not having this and wreaks revenge on just about everybody else in the piece.  Somehow Charpentier and Corneille string this out over five acts and the obligatory prologue glorifying Louis XIV, wisely omitted by director Marshall Pynkowski.

medee1

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And now, the TSO

tso-music-director-peter-oundjian-photo-credit-sian-richardsHot on the heels of the RCM, the Toronto Symphony has announced its 2017/18 season, whih will be Peter Oundjian’s last as Music Director.  There’s lots of sesquicentennial stuff of course but here’s a summary of the interesting vocal stuff (rock and roll and other children’s music omitted).

September 27,28 and 30, 2017: Brahm’s German Requiem with Erin Wall and Russell Braun.

October 19 and 20, 2017: Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Susan Platts and Michael Schade.  This is billed as a Maureen Forrester commemoration.

November 9 and 11, 2017: Jeffrey Ryan’s Afghanistan:Requiem for a Generation with Measha Brueggergosman, Alysson McHardy, Colin Ainsworth and Brett Polegato.

December 16, 19, 20, 22 and 23, 2017: Handel’s Messiah with Karina Gauvin, Kristina Szabó, Frédéric Antoun and Joshua Hopkins.

April 26 and 28, 2018: A concert performance of Bernstein’s Candide with Tracy Dahl, Judith Forst, Nicholas Phan and Richard Suart.

June 2 and 3, 2018: A concert called Water Music with Leslie Ann Bradley singing Dvorak, Schubert and Mozart.

June 28 and 29, 2018:  Peter Oundjian signs off with a Beethoven 9.  Soloists tba.

Full details here.

 

Traditional Pirates

Toronto Operetta Theatre opened a run of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance at the Jane Mallett Theatre last night.  Bill Siva-Marin’s production is competent and very traditional with some strong performers in the key roles.  It won’t leave you with any new insights into the piece but it’s a well executed production which is lots of fun and very funny in places.  When I say traditional I mean pirates in pantomime pirate dress, maidens in some stereotypically Victorian maiden garb and a Major General in a cod colonial uniform.  Tnere are the traditional mild updatings to the libretto including a couple of rather well crafted verses in the MG’s patter song that reference the Glorious Leader of our neighbour to the south.  There are also a few nice touches.  In the second act the MG spends much of the time clutching a bust of one of his purchased ancestors and the “catlike tread” scene is noisily anything but.  That said, the choreography and blocking are pretty formulaic though there are some deft touches in the Personenregie.  Mabel’s body language in Oh! Is there not one maiden breast? is worth a look.

pirates

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Season announcements

adrianluciaBy an odd coincidence two season announcement pressers hit my in box today; Toronto Operetta Theatre and Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.  Toronto Operetta Theatre have four shows:

  • The Waltz Rivals (November 6th at 3pm) is a Léhar and Kálmán greatest hits show featuring Lucia Cesaroni, Adrian Kramer, Holly Chaplin, Stefan Fehr and Greg Finney with Michael Rose at the piano.
  • Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance runs from December 27th to January 8th, 2017.  Colin Ainsworth sings Frederic, Vania Chan is Mabel and Curtis Sullivan is the Major General.  Derek Bate conducts and Guillermo Silva-Marin directs.
  • Oscar Straus’ The Chocolate Soldier, based on George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man, runs on April 26th, 28th, 29th and 30th, 2017. Peter Tiefenbach leads the orchestra and the cast includes Jennifer Taverner, Anna Macdonald, Michael Nyby and Stefan Fehr.
  • Finally there’s an Offenbach tribute concert on June 4th 2017.

All performances are at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.

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Opera Atelier announces 2016/17 season

didoOpera Atelier has announced its 2016/17 season.  The fall production will be Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.  It isn’t clear whether this is a new production or a revival.  The company has done the piece before; at the MacMillan Theatre in 1989 and 1994, in 2005 at the Elgin and in sundry tour venues.  It’s not paired with anything so it’s either a very short show or there is a lot of interpolated dance.  Wallis Giunta and Chris Enns play the lovers with a supporting cast that includes Meghan Lindsay, Laura Pudwell, Ellen McAteer, Karine White and Cory Knight.  Nice to see Karine getting a chance on a professional stage.  There are six shows at the Elgin between October 20 and 29, 2016.

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Opera Atelier at 30

Opera Atelier opened their 30th season last night with Lully’s Armide.  It’s hard to think of a work that better encapsulates what Opera Atelier is and has always aspired to be.  It’s French, it’s 17th century and it’s heavily dependent on ballet, and ballet of an aesthetic that pretty much defines Opera Atelier.  The whole Opera Atelier aesthetic package is there in spades.  Bare chested male dancers in tights that leave little to the imagination, heaving bosoms, ladies twirling prettily in full skirts, castanets and finger cymbals, chorus singing off stage, camp “baroque” acting, tight buttocked homoeroticism, singers cast as much for eye candy value as vocals, a tendency to play for laughs,Tafelmusik.  To be fair, there were a few innovations.  I think I heard a more “realistic” vocal style.  The singers were prepared to make ugly sounds when the emotional context demanded it, rather than an endless flow of prettiness.  The homoeroticism got a BDSM twist in Act 3.  Still, this was very much “by the book” Opera Atelier and if that’s your bag you’ll love it.

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