Laurent Pelly’s 2017 production of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia for the Théatre des Champs Élysée is classic Pelly. The sets and costumes are very simple and essentially monochrome. The sets in fact are constructed from flats painted as music paper. The black, white and grey costumes are more or less modern and pretty nondescript. But, in the classic Pelly manner, the action is fast paced and convincing. There’s lots of synchronised movement and the physical acting and facial expressions are a bit exaggerated. I toyed with the word “cartoonish” but that’s a bit crude if not entirely inaccurate. The overall effect is positive.
SOS2 was at least as good as the first instalment. Krisztina Szabó came in as replacement for Simone McIntosh who is back on the west coast and showed that she’s at least as crazy as anyone else involved in this show (even Keith Klassen and that’s saying something). Highlights include Korin Thomas-Smith auditioning for Papageno and being asked to sing everything from Sarastro to the Queen of the Night, Krisztina as a manic photographer, the previously mentioned ABBA-nera, Teiya Kasahara breathing COVID on Keith Klassen and lots more rather dark virus humour. All sorts of people chipped in with cameos and/or music, Michael Mori and Keith Klassen directed with Jennifer Tung and Juliane Gallant providing music direction. Technical quality is excellent and it’s free. It’s only 30 minutes long so there’s no excuse for not watching. It’s available here.
I’m rather a fan of the productions on the lake stage at Bregenz. It can be a bit hokey and the productions, though spectacular, aren’t usually particularly deep but they are fun to watch. The 2019 production of Verdi’s Rigoletto might just be the best I’ve seen. It takes spectacular to new heights, it’s got some interesting ideas and the performances are very good indeed.
Highlands Opera Studio is launching a series of digital recitals over the summer (now to the end of July) featuring past artists from the programme. Singers and participants include Catherine Daniel, Sara Schabas, Samuel Chan and Bruno Roy among others. There are 13 30-40 minute concerts and it’s ticketed; $10 per concert or $100 for a season pass. More details on the concerts and ticket info is here.
I only have two confirmed events for May. On Thursday 6th there is Tapestry’s Sketch Opera Singers 2.SOS1 was a hoot and the brief excerpt for the upcoming show on Tapestry’s Youtube channel suggests the new one will be fun too. If you haven’t seen it check it out. It’s the famous ABBA-nera by Sven Bizet. Like all Tapestry’s streams SOS2 will be free on Youtube.
The Glenn Gould School released their spring opera performance on the new Koerner livestream platform on Thursday night. It’s a concert performance of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. This is a piece I find hugely problematic but since I went into considerable detail about why in a review of an MYOpera production that I wrote exactly five years ago I won’t repeat myself. Let’s just look at what the GGS did with it.
I think last night’s virtual conference with Michael Mori and Jaime Martino of Tapestry marks the first real announcement of intention for the 2021/22 season by any Canadian company and it offers insight into what may and may not be possible in the next year to eighteen months. Tapestry adapted quickly and creatively to COVID conditions and so I think their read on the future is important. So here’s my take on what was said.
They are planning for live performances with an audience from January 2022. That sounds about right to me. In their case they are looking at two site specific works. Gould’s Wall by Brian Current; libretto by Lisa Balkan, is to be performed at the Royal Conservatory. I thought this was a great idea when I first heard about it from Brian four years ago and I’m really looking forward to it. The other piece, to be performed at OCAD, is Nicole Lizée’s Rossum’s Universal Robots with libretto by Nicolas Billon. I think this originated in the LibLab in November of 2014. There are a number of other new works in the pipeline for future seasons.
What I really like about the Confluence concert series is that sometimes they do music that I love and sometimes they do stuff that’s completely unfamiliar to me and which I almost invariably enjoy. Last night’s streamed concert came into the second category. It was curated by Patricia O’Callaghan and featured the music of Astor Piazzolla who reinvented the tango and the Andean roots influenced music of Mercedes Sosa. Tangos are great fun of course but I was more struck by the music of Sosa who spoke for the voiceless and oppressed of dictatorship Argentina in the same way that Victor Juara spoke for the Chilean underclass. Fortunately for her she didn’t share his fate though she was forced into exile. The music was interwoven with spoken texts from the likes of Borges read by Diego Matamoros and the visual art of Kevork Mourad. All in all a very intriguing program.