Off Centre Music Salon’s opening concert of the season featured a largely Russian, largely 19th century program. There were plenty of songs by Glinka, Tchaikovsky and the like sung by an interestingly contrasted mix of Ilana Zarankin, Joni Henson and Ryan Harper with Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin accompanying. It was good to hear Joni in this program in the warm acoustic of Trinity St. Paul’s. I think I’ve mostly heard her in the RBA which is notoriously hard on dramatic sopranos. Here the combination of the acoustic and Russian vowel sounds resulted in a very pleasing richness of tone rather than stridency. She also blended well with Harper’s very tenorish tenor and made an interesting contrast with the much lighter, brighter Zarankin. Nice work all round.
I don’t usually associate Arnold Schoenberg with comedy but he did write a one act comic opera Von Heute auf Morgen which premiered in 1929. It was an attempt to cash in on the vogue for satirical operas on modern themes characterised by Brecht and Weill and , if a bit slight and lacking Brechtian punch, it works well enough. A bourgeios husband and wife have returned from an evening out where they have met an iold friend of the wife who has become something of a femme fatale. There’s also a singer, inevitably a tenor, involved. The husband is rabbiting on rather gormlessly about the charms of the “other woman” so his wife decides to teach him a lesson. She apes the manners of a “modern woman”, neglects their child, plans assignations etc. There’s a long phone conversation inwhich the “friend” and the singer invite them back to the bar. By now the husband is beginning to realise what he stands to lose. The wife realises she has won. The other couple show up and there’s a “modern” vs. “traditional” quartet after which the “moderns” leave in disgust and the husband and wife revort to bourgeois domesticity.