Ambur Braid rocks Salome at the COC

My review of the COC’s revival of Richard Strauss’ Salome is now up at Bachtrack.

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Photo: Michael Cooper

The Dutchman returns

The COC’s 2022/23 season opened last night with a revival of David Alden’s production of Wagner’s Der fliegender Holländer with Marilyn Gronsdal directing.  It’s been eleven years since this production was last seen and, if memory serves, it created some controversy back then, chiefly on account of the Dutchman’s “zombie” crew.  Seeing it again it’s hard to see what the fuss was about.  It’s actually a very straightforward production where sailing ships are sailing ships and spinning sheds feature textile workers.  The only deviation from the libretto that I noticed was Senta’s death.  Here she’s shot by Erik while holding up a picture of the Dutchman.

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The Queen in Me

Watching The Queen in Me at the Canadian Opera Company Theatre last night I thought to myself that this was probably the first time I’d heard Teiya Kasahara singing classic opera arias with an orchestra.  Given how many times I’ve seen Teiya on stage that seemed really weird.  And that, I suppose, is one major aspect of what this show is all about; how casting is so rigidly stereotyped that it demands that people become something other than themselves to get cast.  A tall, muscular, tattooed Queen of the Night isn’t that much of a stretch but a tall, muscular tattooed Cio Cio San or Mimi is a bridge too far.

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Photo credit: Gary Beechey

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#weirdopera

Ian Cusson and Colleen Murphy’s Fantasma opened at the Canadian Opera Company Theatre last night.  It’s billed as an opera for younger audiences though I think there were more composers than kids in the theatre last night!  It’s a ghost story.  Two fifteen year old girls and their mother are visiting an old fashioned carnival which is struggling financially.  There’s a “ghost” who is employed to scare patrons and generate social media coverage.  Then the girls find a real, rather sad, little ghost and things happen.  Or maybe they don’t.  And the opera ends.  Or maybe it doesn’t.  It’s surprisingly complex for a 45 minute piece for kids and raises issues about what we see and what we think we see; why adults do and don’t believe kids and so on.  When the (virtual) curtain came down rather abruptly I didn’t think I’d be thinking so much about it the next morning.  But I am.

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Vladimir Soloviev as Dante and Vartan Gabrielian as Tino

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In Winter

In Winter is the latest digital offering from the COC and is available free until June.  Described by the COC as a concert that “explores and celebrates winter” it’s more a Eurocentric potpourri of seasonal fare with a decidedly Christmas twist.  It’s a cut above “Christmas’ Greatest Hits” though a John Rutter arrangement of Deck the Halls and I’ll be Home for Christmas are in that vein and even the exuberance and lovely voice of Midori Marsh can’t make more of The Twelve Days of Christmas than is there to be had.

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Barber revived

Catalan collective Els Comediants’ production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville is back at the COC in a revival of the 2015 production.  Five years ago I described it as a “glorious romp” and, based on yesterday’s performance, I see non need to amend that judgement.  It may be even better this time.  It still has Joan Guillén’s wonderfully colourful and silly costumes and sets and it still has Joan Font’s inspired directing; perhaps even crisper this time.  Once again it has a wonderful cast of international and Canadian singers including a reprise of Bartolo by the admirable Renato Girolami.

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