The “postponed from the fall” double bill from the Glenn Gould School finally streamed on the Koerner Hall channel last night. The first piece was likely familiar to most viewers; Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins given in piano score in a production by Amanda Smith. The concept here is that Anna 2, rather than being a dancer, is some kind of on-line celebrity exploiting dating sites to bring her fame and fortune. The production had originally been designed for an audience and used moveable plexi-glass shields to ensure social distancing. It also made extensive use of projected conversation bubbles, emojis and other social media effects. This seems to have been ramped up in post production to add picture-in-picture effects and maybe to make the lighting; already a sort of rave inspired blend of blues and pinks with touches of rather lurid green, even more dramatic. With on screen subtitles it was arresting but maybe just a little too busy to fully process!
Performances were really rather good. The piece hangs on the singing of Anna 1 and Chelsea Pringle-Duchemin was really good. She was clear, appropriately idiomatic (i.e. not too pretty of sound) and generally convincing. She was well backed up by the blatantly cute acting of Thera Barclay and the well co-ordinated antics; including much video game platying, of the “chorus of Stefan Vidovic, Tyler Cervini, Gennady Grebenchuk and Ben Loyst. Accompaniment was provided by Mariya Orlenko and Godwin Friesen. All in all an enjoyable show that came off almost bas well as if designed for streaming.
The second piece was less familiar; William Bolcom’s rather odd Lucrezia. This is a kind of Argentine bourgeois Barber of Seville meets Wolf Hall. Lucrezia has failed to provide her lawyer husband Ignacio (and her mother) with a son. She has an admirer; Lorenzo who has a manipulative valet ;Chucho. Chucho concocts a scheme to get Lorenzo into Lucrezia’s bed. Lorenzo, in guise of a German doctor offers Lucrezia a potion guaranteed to make her fertile but with a snag. The first person to bed her after she takes the potion will die. Agreement to the morality of this must be secured from all parties so Lorenzo disguises himself as a priest and squares everyone away, although Lucrezia has clearly seen through him. The plot is took; Ignacio forsook and a “repentant” Lucrezia explains that she must have regular visits from the priest to ensure the safety of her soul. Ignacio isn’t too bothered because he’s happier at the brothel down the road with its “two for one” specials.
Musically it’s not terribly interesting. It’s a sort of pastiche Latin-American that wears thin pretty quickly. The production too is more straightforward than for the Weill (which makes sense for a less familiar work). The cast here make the most of it though with an excellent performance from Jordan de Sousa (no not that one) as Chucho and an increasingly funny and sly Lucrezia from Ariana Maubach. They are well backed up by Katelyn Bird, Noah Grove and Tyler Cervini. Accompaniment on two pianos is from Alexander Malikov and Brian Woods.
For the most part the filming and editing was well done and picture and sound quality very decent. It did though suffer from what appears to be a chronic Koerner Hall streaming problem of the stream getting quite choppy in places. Previously I’ve found this is only a problem on the original “live” stream and that watching on catch up is fine. I haven’t checked that here. In any event it’s still available on the Koerner site.
It’s not easy to convert a show originally intended for the stage to a successful streaming experience but this one does the job pretty well.