Newbury’s Norma on DVD

Kevin Newbury’s production of Bellini’s Norma made it to Toronto via San Francisco, Barcelona and Chicago with Sondra Radvanovsky singing the title role (at least some of the time) in all four cities.  It was recorded for DVD and Blu-ray at the Liceu in Barcelona in 2015.  Watching the DVD didn’t change my opinion of the production.  Here’s what I said about it on opening night in Toronto:

Kevin Newbury’s production is perhaps best described as serviceable.  I have seen various rather desperate efforts made to draw deep meaning from it but I really don’t think there is any.  That said, it looks pretty decent and is efficient.  The single set allows seamless transitions between scenes which is a huge plus.  So, what does it look like?  It’s basically a sort of cross between a barn and a temple with a back wall that can raised or moved out of the way to expose the druids’ sacred forest.  There’s also a sort of two level cart thing which characters ascend when they have something especially important to sing.  Costumes were said to have been inspired by Game of Thrones; animal skins, leather, tattoos (which actually don’t really read except up very close), flowing robes.  Norma herself appears to be styled, somewhat oddly, on a Klingon drag queen. The lighting is effective and there are some effective pyrotechnics at the end.  All in all a pretty good frame for the story and the singing.

There did seem to be far fewer pyrotechnics in the Barcelona staging though (either that or the video direction pretty much ignores them).

1-stage

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Singing Stars of Tomorrow

Last night ten singers who had taken part in an intensive class/coaching with Sondra Radvanovsky showed us what they could do.  The program was organised and presented by the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists at the Alliance Française.  It says quite a lot about the current state of supply and demand in the opera world that nine of the ten singers were female and seven were sopranos.  We were given one aria per singer and a lot, inevitably I suppose, of Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini with one aria apiece for Verdi and Puccini.

ssot

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Norma at the COC

Kevin Newbury’s production of Bellini’s Norma at the COC (co-pro with San Francisco, Chicago and the Liceu) is perhaps best described as serviceable.  I have seen various rather desperate efforts made to draw deep meaning from it but I really don’t think there is any.  That said, it looks pretty decent and is efficient.  The single set allows seamless transitions between scenes which is a huge plus.  So, what does it look like?  It’s basically a sort of cross between a barn and a temple with a back wall that can raised or moved out of the way to expose the druids’ sacred forest.  There’s also a sort of two level cart thing which characters ascend when they have something especially important to sing.  Costumes were said to have been inspired by Game of Thrones; animal skins, leather, tattoos (which actually don’t really read except up very close), flowing robes.  Norma herself appears to be styled, somewhat oddly, on a Klingon drag queen. The lighting is effective and there are some effective pyrotechnics at the end.  All in all a pretty good frame for the story and the singing.

norma-ch-063

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Week of September 19th

fleming_caaspeakers_photo-must-credit-decca_andrew-eccles-330x360This looks like the week the season really starts.  The big event is the season opener at the TSO on Wednesday where Renée Fleming is featured.  There’s Ravel’s Shéhérazade plus Puccini, Walton and others finishing up with three numbers from The King and I.  This one’s at Roy Thomson Hall at the slightly unusual time of 7pm.  The next night at the Alliance Française there’s a show called Singing Stars of Tomorrow.  It features ten young singers who will have been engaged in a day long workshop with Sondra Radvanovsky.  It’s organised by the IRCPA.  Tickets are $25 from ircpa.net.

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As promised, thoughts on art song recitals

gerhaherhuberThe imminent death of the art song recital is perhaps an even more prevalent trope than “opera is dying” doomandgloomery.  It reached something of a crescendo in Toronto when the Aldeburgh Connection shut up shop after thirty years.  Oddly enough there still seem to be plenty of recitals of various kinds but unquestionably there has been something of a shift away from “two dudes in tails with a piano”.

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Radvanovsky at Koerner Hall

sondra-radvanovsky-current-obsessionsDespite living locally Sondra Radvanovsky is not a frequent recitalist in Toronto so it’s perhaps not surprising that Koerner Hall was packed last night for her show presented by Show One Productions.  I had been intrigued in advance by the promised program which looked extremely varied; baroque, bel canto, Strauss, Barber, verismo and more.  We were, in fact, being used as most willing guinea pigs for some new departures, especially the Strauss.

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Sondra Radvanovsky master class

lyndsaysondraYesterday’s Riki Turofsky master class at the UoT Music faculty was given by Sondra Radvanovsky which probably accounted for the almost full Walter Hall.  It was interesting.  I’ve only ever seen Sondra glammed up and seeming very much the diva and so I was a bit surprised that she proved rather down to earth and very technique focussed.  Four students sang but I’m going to focus on two.  Partly to avoid being repetitive and partly because they happen to be singers I’ve heard quite a bit and so was more able to see what Sondra was doing with/to them.

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