The Nightingale sang

The COC’s revival of Robert Lepage’s 2009 production of Stravinsky’s The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, revived by Marilyn Gronsdalis a delightful mix of witty and clever stagecraft coupled with some fine music making.  It’s very much a work of two contrasting halves.  The first is a carefully constructed program of shorter Stravinsky vocal and instrumental works; all from the period 1911-1919 and all with a sound world reminiscent of The Firebird or Petrouchka rather than The Rite of Spring or the Dumbarton Oaks Concerto.  The full line up was:

  • Ragtime
  • Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet No.1
  • Pribaoutki
  • Berceuses du chat
  • Two Poems of Konstantin Balmont
  • Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet No.2
  • Four Russian Peasant Songs
  • Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet No.3
  • The Fox

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Don Giovanni at UoT Opera

The Opera Division’s fall production this year is Mozart’s Don Giovanni in a production by Marilyn Gronsdal.  Let’s start with the production.  The sets are all paper and boxes with a few props and the costuming is 1940s.  The aesthetic is film noir.  There are trilbies and Don Ottavio is packing a piece in a shoulder holster.  It set, for me and my companion at least, an expectation that this would be a “film noir production” but although there were nods in that direction; Leporello as the comic sidekick, statuette of the Commendatore as the murder weapon for example, the idea wasn’t really developed at all.  Instead we got a very straightforward narrative with the a few twists.  Gronsdal included a chorus of silent women who comment on the action (didn’t she do this in Saskatoon as well?) and Don Giovanni isn’t dragged down to Hell.

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La Cecchina

Niccolò Piccinni’s La Cecchina or La buona figliuola is an opera buffa in two acts written for the Teatro delle Dame in Rome where it premiered in 1760.  The libretto is by Carlo Goldini and, while said to have been inspired by Richardson’s Pamela, is actually a fairly straightforward masters and servants story of a similar nature to Pergolesi’s La serva padrona or even Mozart’s La finta giardinera; all, of course, firmly rooted in the conventions of the commedia dell’arte.  Being written for Rome it was, originally, played by an all male cast.  Last night at Koerner Hall the Glenn Gould School Opera presented it with female singers in the high roles.

Photo: Nicola Betts

Kendra Dyck as Sandrina and Asitha Tennekoon as the Marchese

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Another Big COC Podcast

A couple of weeks ago we recorded another Big COC Podcast.  It’s now available on the COC website and from iTunes.  This time the panel was myself, Wayne Gooding from Opera Canada magazine and Gianmarco Segato and Gianna Wichelow from the COC.

Topics covered included Robert Everett-Green’s Globe and Mail article on Il Trovatore and the persecution of the Roma, upcoming opera productions across Canada (mostly Verdi!), an interview with Marilyn Gronsdal on her Montreal remounting of Christopher Alden’s production of Der Fliegende Holländer; seen at the COC in 2010, and that hardy perennial, HD cinema transmissions of opera with especial emphasis on the Met.