I’ve learned not to dismiss Romeo Castellucci’s work on first watching because it has a nasty habit of starting to make sense on reflection. His 2018 production of Richard Strauss’ Salome for the Salzburg Festival may be a case in point. Castellucci seems determined to destroy any preconceptions we have about the work and Franz Welser-Möst in the pit is a willing accomplice.
The Ukrainian Art Song Project’s summer intensive has a concert in Temerty Hall on Sunday at 3pm. It’s possible to sit in on the creation/rehearsal process so I went along yesterday to take a look. I last went to one of the UASP’s concerts a couple of years ago and it was presented as a standard voice/piano recital in Koerner Hall. This is going to be quite different. The songs have been ordered in a way that creates a kind of narrative described as “A poet, having lost their inspiration, retraces their life, striving to reawaken in themselves the passion that once allowed them to create great works of art”. Also, it’s all being staged “in the round”. I got to see the crew work on four or five numbers yesterday and I was impressed by the commitment and the high standard of the singing and acting as well of the sheer speed with which the singers picked up on the ideas thrown at them by “circus master” Pavlo Hunka. It’s dramatic. There’s even an orgy.
Out of town, up in bear country, Highlands Opera Studio has shows this month. Puccini’s Suor Angelica is paired with two short contemporary opera’s; Maria Atallah’s The Chair and Kendra Harder’s Book of Faces. That’s this coming Thursday. Then on the 22nd, 24th, 25th and 26th they are doing Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos with two different casts. Full casting and box office information is here.
Last night’s final Koerner Hall event in Toronto Summer Music started off with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major. It’s a tuneful, well constructed piece which in places riffs off Romany music, hence its nickname “Turkish”. Jonathan Crow was the soloist with a small orchestra drawn from all the area’s major orchestras plus TSM Fellows. Gemma New conducted. It was very satisfying. The orchestra was excellent and the interplay between solist and orchestra worked very well. It’s quite a demanding piece for the soloist and I really enjoyed the sound that Jonathan produced. He plays an instrument with a rather distinctive timbre which worked well here. I’m curious about the first movement cadenza. I don’t know the work well enough to knoew what the options are but this one was very virtuosic though sounding distinctly post-Mozartian.
Driftwood Theatre’s Bard’s Bus Tour touched down at Withrow Park yesterday evening in near perfect conditions for their lightly updated musical version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. D. Jeremy Smith’s production is cleverly constructed to cover off all the bases with a cast of only eight and with the minimal staging possible for an outdoor touring production. The updating makes the Mechanicals into Oshawa auto workers. The music is largely integral; parts of the text being set to music by Kevin Fox and Tom Lillington further adapted and performed by Alison Beckwith with support from various members of the cast. There are cuts and the whole piece runs about an hour and forty five minutes without an interval.