The Talisker Players’ latest show is pretty typical of what they do best; partner with some excellent singers and an actor to create an interesting program of words and music on a given theme. Last night, as the title suggests, the theme was classical mythology; a rich enough seam for almost anything! Most of the musical works chosen were twentieth century or later with only excerpts from a Pergolesi cantata harking back to an era that drew more heavily on these sources.
The first piece was Alan Hovhaness’ Hercules for soprano and violin performed by Carla Huhtanen and Elizabeth Loewen Andrews. This was so very Hovhaness; haunting, disturbing and very beautiful. It seems as rooted in the pre-classical world as the Heroic Age but perhaps that’s just a kind of timelessness. It’s a perfect fit for Carla and the violin playing was beautiful too.
The Talisker Players are presenting a show called present Creature to Creature on March 16 and 18 at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre. It’s inspired by mediaeval bestiaries and takes on human foibles through the lens of animal behaviour. It had better be good because I can scratch quite nastily. The Taliskers will be joined by mezzo soprano Norine Burgess, baritone Geoffrey Sirett (more impressive every time I see him), and theatre artist Ross Manson.
Last night we saw the preview of A Synonym for Love at the Gladstone Hotel. The Gladstone has a long and eventful history. Nowadays it’s a boutique “artist” hotel which serves as a performance space and gallery for various indie projects like the one we saw. The work itself is, I suppose, a pastiche. The music is Handel’s long lost cantata Clori, Tirsi e Fileno. It was written when Handel was 21 and isn’t maybe his greatest work but there’s a lot of really good music in it. The libretto is an English text by Deborah Pearson that takes the basic idea of a love triangle and gives it a modern twist. In Ms. Pearson’s story Clori, sung by soprano Traxy Smith Bessette, is a bisexual woman from Calgary in town for a fling with her male lover Phil (countertenor Scott Belluz) at, naturally, the Gladstone. She is followed by her jealous long term partner Theresa (soprano Emily Atkinson). Mayhem ensues. There are also three non-singing roles who act as “guides” to the audience and participate in the drama as hotel employees. Continue reading →