Carmen #YesAllWomen

Loose Tea Music Theatre’s Carmen #YesAllWomen has been in the works for three years.  It went “live” this week with a production at Heliconian Hall.  It’s an intriguing show.  Dramatically and musically it’s recognisably based on Bizet’s Carmen but only just.  In Alaina Viau and Monica Pearce’s version the principal male character is one John Anderson, an Afghanistan vet with PTSD, his rival for Carmen is a rapper, Maximillian aka Hot God, and Michaela is Anderson’s estranged wife.

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Figaro’s Wedding at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse

Last night saw the first performance of a run of eleven in Against the Grain Theatre’s revival of their 2013 hit Figaro’s Wedding.  It’s essentially the same show.  Director/librettist Joel Ivany has made a number of tweaks and updates but the main differences lie in what the singers bring to their characters.

1_L-R_Alexandra Smither and Bruno Roy, Photo by Taylor Long

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Marcel d’Entremont in the RBA

The 2018 Wirth Song Prize winner tenor Marcel d’Entremont gave the customary recital in the RBA at noon yesterday accompanied by Dakota Scott-Digout.  It was an interesting choice of material; nicely balanced between old and new worlds.  He started with Ravel’s Cinq mélodies populaires grecques.  I guess these set the tone for the recital.  Marcel has a very operatic voice.  It’s big with quite a lot of vibrato.  The Ravel was loud but nicely characterized and sung in perfect French.  He followed up with a rousing. but not overly subtle, Kuda, kuda.   I was beginning to find things a bit one dimensional.

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Getting intimate with Figaro and Susanna

rachaelkerrI chatted this morning with Rachael Kerr; music director of Against the Grain’s upcoming Figaro’s Wedding.  I saw the original version back in 2013 and was wondering what might be different this time.  I also wondered whether there might be some insights to be gained by approaching it from the perspective of the music rather than the libretto.  Hence my decision to talk to Rachael rather than other members of the team.

I think I lucked in.  It proved to be a most interesting conversation which ultimately turned on why this would be an engaging show and how that turned on “intimacy”.  So first let’s review the elements of the show: Continue reading

…let me explain

letmeexplain…let me explain is a new CD of Canadian art song (mostly) from soprano Christina Raphaëlle Haldane.  The first set consists of three arrangements of Acadian folk songs by by Carl Philippe Gionet.  The three are quite different.  L’Escaouette is fast, high, rhythmic and very high energy.  Tout Passe is much more elegiacal while Wing Tra La is very playful.  They are sung quite beautifully with piano accompaniment from the arranger.  Ahania’s Lament is a longish piece in which Blake’s text is set by Samy Mousa.  It’s a tough sing with a lot of high exposed passages against a minimal accompaniment.  It’s a piece that it’s easy to get drawn into.  It’s a good vehicle for Haldane’s crystalline upper register.  Piano accompaniment by M.Gionet again.

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Singing our songs

marionnewmanThe latest concert in the Confluence series featured Marion Newman and friends addressing the question “What is Indigenous classical music?” through a carefully curated programme of works; all of which featured words by Indigenous women.  We began with Marion singing Barbara Kroall’s Zasakwaa (There is a Heavy Frost) with words in Odawa describing the earth going to sleep for the winter with flute accompaniment by Stephen Tam.  It was followed by Rebecca Cuddy singing three of the Five Songs on Poems by Marilyn Dumont by Ian CussonThese are really fine settings of interesting, pithy, angry texts that have a wicked humour to them.  I particularly like Letter to Sir John A. Macdonald which I’ve written about before.

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