Hausmusik is Tafelmusik’s less formal concert series. It’s not exactly a concert; more an “event”. Last night director Alaina Viau mixed music (woodwind trio, harpsichord, soprano (Ellen McAteer) and electronics from SlowPitchSound) with film projections by Darren Bryant and dance by Libydo to create quite a varied series of effects but all, musically, (just about) within the range one would expect from Tafelmusik.
There are umpteen operas based more or less closely on the legends surrounding Medea, Jason, the Golden Fleece and the events afterwards in Corinth. Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s 1693 version to a libretto by Corneille deals with the events in Corinth subsequent to Jason and Medea’s return with the fleece. The plot, in essentials, is simplicity itself. Jason is scheming to secure his future, and that of his children, by ditching Médée and marrying the king’s daughter Créuse. Médée is not having this and wreaks revenge on just about everybody else in the piece. Somehow Charpentier and Corneille string this out over five acts and the obligatory prologue glorifying Louis XIV, wisely omitted by director Marshall Pynkowski.
There are a few things I didn’t mention in my back half of April post. Century Song opened a couple of nights ago at Crow’s Theatre. It’s a live performance hybrid, inspired in part by Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens, Soprano Neema Bickersteth melds classical song (music by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Oliver Messiaen, John Cage, Georges Aperghis and Reza Jacobs) and movement to inhabit a century of women whose identities are contained within a single performer. Details here.
Thursday 23rd at 8pm, Karina Gauvin is performing with Tafelmusik at Koerner Hall in a concert called The Baroque Diva. Details are here. This will be repeated on Friday and Saturday evenings and on Sunday at 3.30pm. Sunday at 3.30pm Voicebox are presenting Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina. I’m not sure where it will fall on the semi-staged to concert spectrum but it’s definitely piano accompaniment (Narmina Afandiyeva) and the cast is headed up by Andrey Andreychik. This is a piece that played in full runs over three hours so it will be interesting to see what they choose to include, or not.
Sometimes it takes some time away from home to be able to see things clearly again. That’s rather how I felt about last night’s Messiah performed by Tafelmusik at Koerner Hall. In the last few years I’ve seen choreographed and fully staged versions, the Andrew Davis version with sleigh bells and whoopee cushions and Soundstreams eclectic Electric Messiah, all of which helped bring a conventional small scale performance with period instruments into focus.
As things will soon slow down for the holidays I am going to do one listings post from now through to the New Year. There are of course still the TSO and Tafelmusik Messiahs. There are also holiday concerts at Roy Thomson Hall. New Year’s Eve sees an opera pops concert conducted by Marco Guidarini while on New Year’s Day there’s a Vienna themed extravaganza with Matthias Fletzberger conducting.
It’s that time of year when one ponders the vexed question of how many Messiahs, and which ones, one is going to see this year. For Torontonians there seem to be four principal contenders; two fairly conventional and two less so. At the conventional end of things there’s the TSO of course. This year it’s back to the usual performing edition though fans of Sir Andrew’s “Big Fat Messiah” as heard last year can now acquire it on CD from the Chandos label. Baroque specialist Nicholas McGegan conducts so it’s probably as close to HIP as the TSO are ever going to get. Soloists are Yulia Van Doren, Abigail Levis, Isaiah Bell and Daniel Okulitch. I’m not familiar with either of the ladies but the guys are top notch. As ever the orchestra will be joined by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. There are five performances at Roy Thomson Hall on the 18th at 3pm and the 19th, 20th, 21st and 23rd at 8pm.