Layla Claire is one of a handful of young Canadian singers making something of a splash on both sides of the Atlantic with major roles in Glyndebourne, Zürich, Toronto and Salzburg and an upcoming Pamina at the Met. Her debut recital CD Songbird, with pianist Marie-Eve Scarfone, was recently issued on the ATMA Classique label. It’s an interesting and varied collection of songs though never straying very far from familiar recital territory. It’s tilted towards French (Gounod, Chausson, Debussy, Fauré, Bizet) and German (Wolf, Strauss, Brahms, Liszt) repertoire but there’s also Quilter, Barber, Argento and Britten (the comparatively rare Seascape which is, oddly, omitted from the CD liner).
Dominick Argento’s 1971 work Postcard from Morocco is unusual. It’s opera meets Ionesco meets acid rock. It’s a weird and wonderful kaleidoscope of scenes and music “about” a group of characters who seem to have nothing in common except that they have showed up at a railway station in Morocco c. 1914. Michael Cavanagh’s production for UoT Opera plays it straight veering to OTT which seems about right. This piece doesn’t need directorial “interpretation” but it does need careful organisation and lots of energy. Cavanagh’s approach provided plenty of both.