How, collectively, we remember is a cultural act defined by both choices and the general milieu in which the remembering takes place(*). Sometimes this results in stories being distorted and “misremembered”. The story of Shanawdithit, the last survivor of the Beothuk people is, perhaps, one such story. Her life and death, the final act in the campaign of genocide against her people is still “remembered” in Newfoundland culture but how much do we really know? The “evidence” boils down to a handful of sketches by Shanawdithit, annotated by one William Cormack; pretty much the only white person to show her any kindness or to display any interest in her people. Dean Burry and Yvette Nolan’s new opera; a co-production of Tapestry Opera and Opera on the Avalon asks what we know and how we know it. I attended a workshop presentation of the incomplete work yesterday.
Claus Guth has a way with Mozart. At his best; with his Salzburg productions of the da Ponte operas for example, he’s superb while I was unconvinced by his Glyndebourne Clemenza, despite its ambition. I was really keen to see what he would do with an opera like Lucio Silla which, despite some lovely music, is formulaic and potentially very boring.
Toronto City Opera puts on fully staged productions with young professional soloists and an amateur, unauditioned chorus. It’s piano accompaniment. I’ve never been to one of their shows, not least because until recently they have performed at the Bickford Centre which I loathe. Now they are at the Miles Nadal JCC which is a huge improvement and both Jennifer Tung and Alaina Viau are on the creative team, which is promising. This year they are opening their season with Le nozze di Figaro running on December 6th, 7th and 9th. The cast includes Dylan Wright as Figaro, Brittany Rae as Susanna, and Lillian Brooks as Cherubino. There’s also a Traviata in March with Beth Hagerman as Violetta.
Coming up later this month…
On October 14th at 7.30pm in the MacMillan Theatre, the UoT Symphony, UoT Opera and the MacMillan singers are joining forces for a programme of opera ensemble numbers.
October 20th at 8pm in the Ernest Balmer Studio sees the first show in the new Confluence series; Sovereignty Voiced. Actor Cole Alvis, mezzo soprano Marion Newman, composer/pianist Ian Cusson, poet/filmmaker Armand Garnet Ruffo and singer/songwiter Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone and others share poems, songs and stories in an intimate cabaret.
My review of yesterday’s opening performance of Robert Carsen’s production of Eugene Onegin at the COC is now up on Bachtrack.
Against the Grain Theatre have announced an ambitious 2018/19 season. There are two main stage shows. The first is Bound, which had a first workshop outing in December 2017. It’s still a work-in-progress but there have been significant developments. Kevin Lau has been commissioned to inject his contemporary themes, music and ideas into the original music by Handel. Instead of piano there will be a chamber orchestra led by AtG Music Director Topher Mokrzewski with digital sound artist Acote. The cast will include soprano Miriam Khalil, countertenor David Trudgen, tenor Andrew Haji, and baritone Justin Welsh. This workshop will be presented in Longboat Hall at The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West) on November 19th, 20th and 21st, 2018. For me, the acid test will be whether the dramaturgy and the text has been tightened up.
Things are starting to liven up again in the Toronto scene. Here’s a look ahead to the balance of September and the first half of October. This week sees a performance of Weill’s Little Mahagonny by VOICEBOX at Gallery 345. That’s on Tuesday 25th at 7.30pm and will be followed by a wine and cheese reception. Tickets are available at Eventbrite.
The COC season opens on the 30th with Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin featuring Gordon Bintner, Joseph Kaiser and Joyce El-Khoury. There are eight performances ending on 3rd Novemeber. The companion work is the premier run of Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian which opens on October 13th. It’s a starry cast including Thomas Hampson and Karita Matilla. There are seven performances ending October 27th.