I think I may have been missing out a bit with the Toronto Consort. I’ve been to the odd show that’s been identifiable as music theatre such as their excellent Play of Daniel but until I sat down with David Fallis and Laura Pudwell a few weeks ago I didn’t really have a clear sense of what they are about. Last night’s concert, Renaissance Splendours, at Trinity St. Paul’s, gave me a pretty good idea of what I’ve been missing and how it fits into my musical universe.
Moving into winter what does the Toronto opera/concert calendar have to offer? This coming week there’s an interesting looking concert in the RBA at noon on Tuesday. The Haven Trio (soprano Lindsay Kesselman, clarinetist Kimberly Cole Luevano, and pianist Midori Koga) will perform the world premiere of Toronto-based composer Kieren MacMillan’s Three Portraits, a dramatic setting of poems by Dana Gioia, the current Poet Laureate of California.
The Toronto Consort has recently announced leadership changes concomitant on David Fallis stepping back his involvement as Artistic Director. I have to admit that although I’ve attended and enjoyed Toronto Consort shows from time to time I’ve been a bit hazy about what they were about so it seemed like a good time to put that right. Yesterday I set down with David Fallis and Laura Pudwell to talk about the Toronto Consort; past, present and, especially, future.
It’s getting a bit busier again. This afternoon there are a couple of concerts. At 2pm in Mazzoleni Hall you can catch Mireille Asselin and Brett Polegato with Peter Tiefenbach and Rachel Andrist in a painting themed program of lieder, artsongs and chansons called Le travail du peintre. At 4.30pm at Metropolitan United Church Bach’s Mass in B Minor meets German film maker Bastian Clevé’s film The Sound of Eternity. The soloists are Marjorie Maltais, Geoff Sirett, Jennifer Krabbe and Charles Sy plus the Orpheus Choir, Chorus Niagara and the Talisker Players. I suppose it would just about be possible to do both…
The Play of Daniel (Danielis ludus) is a 12th or 13th century Latin liturgical play from Beauvais in nothern France. It appears in the liturgy for January 1st, The Feast of the Circumcision, and appears to have been an attempt to channel the traditional post Christmas disorder into more acceptable channels. It was probably performed by the sub deacons of the Cathedral; young men in minor orders. Alex and David Fallis have run with this setting and tried to create a piece that would evoke the same sort of reactions from a 21st century audience as the original did for those who saw it in Beauvais. That’s a huge ask but, to my mind, they succeeded admirably.
There are a couple of rather unusual shows coming up on the weekend of May 22nd to 24th.
A new group, The Friends of Gravity, are putting on Weill’s Die Sieben Todsünde ~ The Seven Deadly Sins. Projected photography and film stand in for the original production’s ballet. Silent film-style title cards will translate the German text and illuminate the dramatic back-story. Stephanie Conn sings the role of Anna I on stage and acts as Anna II in the pre-taped footage. The other singers include Christopher Wattam, Charles Fowler, David Roth and James Levesque. A seven piece band will play Scott Gabriel’s arrangement of the score. It’s on on May 22nd and 23rd at 8pm at St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church, 509 Dundas Street East. Tickets are $25 ($15 for students) and are available at https://www.universe.com/7sins or http://thefriendsofgravity.org
At more or less the same time The Toronto Consort are putting on a fully staged version in English translation of the 13th century Latin work The Play of Daniel. David Fallis directs the Consort medieval players with a cast that includes Kevin Skelton in the title role, Olivier Laquerre as King Belshazzar, Derek Kwan as King Darius, Michele DeBoer as the Queen, and John Pepper as Habakkuk. This one runs at Trinity St. Paul’s on the 22nd and 23rd at 8pm and the 24th at 3.30pm. Tickets and info at torontoconsort.org.
Cavalli’s Giasone is a bit of a peculiar piece, It’s based on parts of the Jason/Medea/Golden Fleece story but it’s at heart a comedy. It was wildly popular in the 17th century then pretty much lapsed into obscurity though there is one recording available on DVD. It provides quite a lot of opportunity for sight gags and spectacle so one had to wonder how well it would play in a concert version as presented by the Toronto Consort last night. Actually they did quite well with it but let’s take a step back to talk about the piece for a minute. Continue reading →