Baby Kintyre

kintyreAll families, they say, have secrets.  Few perhaps are as lurid as what came to light at 29 Kintyre Avenue, Toronto (about 2km from here) in the summer of 2007 when a contractor renovating the house discovered the mummified body of an infant wrapped in a 1925 newspaper.  Incredibly, the CBC was able to track down the last surviving member of the household from that era, a 92 year old woman living in a retirement home in up-state New York.  Her recollections, which formed the subject of a short two part radio documentary, provided a lot of context and background but few hard facts.  Who the baby was and how it came to be under the floorboards remains very much a mystery.

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Farewell Queen of Puddings

Lorca-horizontalChris Paul Harman’s La selva de los relojes (The Forest of Clocks) had its premier at the Four Seasons Centre at lunchtime today.  It’s a setting of some very beautiful texts from Lorca’s Suites scored for mezzo, harp, piano/celeste, flute, clarinet, cello, percussion and tape.  The tape consists of sections of the texts read by Martha de Francisco.  Sometimes the text comes from the tape, sometimes it’s sung by mezzo, sometimes it’s spoken by the mezzo and at other times they overlap.  The accompaniment is mostly very spare but occasionally becomes surprisingly dense with lots of work for tuned percussion.  There are also some unconventional roles for the instruments, especially the flute, and there is a whistled passage for the singer near the end.  All in all it’s very 21st century; decidedly modern but quite approachable.  And did I say the texts are gorgeous?  Continue reading

Creepy and claustrophobic Wozzeck

In 1970 Rolf Liebermann took the assembled forces of the Hamburg State Opera down to a castle in South Germany and made a film of Berg’s Wozzeck.  The production is pretty literal.  It’s set in Austria in the late 19th century and everything plays out very literally per the libretto but it’s far from being a routine or dull reading.  A combination of brilliant conducting, slightly over the top acting, pointing up the Expressionist elements in the music and really good cinematography make this a very tense, creepy and claustrophobic experience.  It’s simultaneously rather repellent and hard to watch and deeply engaging.  Continue reading