Tomorrow (Sunday) is a busy day. There’s a matinée of Götterdämmerung at the COC with a few tickets still available. UoT Opera is doing their annual student composer piece. This year it’s called Prima Zombie and it’s based on the premise that a cabal of disgruntled music critics, disenchanted with the current state of opera, unearth and electrify the corpse of the celebrated 19th century diva Nellie Melba. Mayhem ensues. This one is in the MacMillan Theatre at 2.30 pm and it’s free.
This time last year I attended a workshop performance of a work in progress; Aaron Gervais’ The Harvester. That time it was in piano score but semi staged. Last night it was presented, at Gallery 345, in concert format but with chamber orchestra. I’m not going to recap the plot etc because it’s all in last time’s review. Let’s start by saying it’s coming along and I really look forward to seeing a fully staged version.
So, back to last night. The concept is of a double bill of Schoenberg’s Erwartung in a chamber reduction followed by The Harvester so last night we started with half the Schoenberg (up to the discovery of her lover’s body). The chamber reduction (by Aaron Gervais) for piano, three woodwinds, strings, horn and percussion works remarkably well. The effect is similar (ironically) to Schoenberg’s chamber versions of Mahler’s songs. Textures are clearer, if less lush, and the singer is less pushed for sheer volume which allows for a bit more subtlety. It’s different but it works. On this scale it’s a good fit for Stacie Dunlop; one of those singers who is an excellent musician and interpreter but is not a huge voice.
On April 11th FAWN Opera is workshopping L’Homme et le Ciel; music by Adam Scime and libretto by Ian Koiter. It’s PWYC and it’s at the Ernest Balmer Studio at 8pm. Partrick Murray conducts, Amanda Smith directs and the singers will be Giovanni Spanu, Larissa Koniuk and Adanya Dunn. I wish I could go but I can’t.
On the 26th at 8pm the Aradia Ensemble, conductor Kevin Mallon, will be joined by Claire de Sévigné and Maria Soulis for a programme of Vivaldi’s sacred music. It’s at St. Anne’s Anglican church on Gladstone Avenue which sounds worth a visit in itself. Apparently there is a Byzantine dome and decoration by members of the Group of 7. Tickets are $35 ($20 seniors).
On February 2nd Voicebox: Opera in Concert will be performing Rameau’s rarely performed Hippolyte et Aricie at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. The cast will be led by mezzo Alyson McHardy as Phèdre with tenor Colin Ainsworth as Hippolyte, soprano Meredith Hall as Aricie and veteran bass Alain Coulombe as Thesée. Accompaniment will be by the Aradia Ensemble conducted by Kevin Mallon. Tickets are available from www.stlc.com
It seems like some of the most interesting repertoire choices this year are being presented in concert rather than fully staged. At least this one has more than piano accompaniment.