Toronto City Opera performed a concert version of Verdi’s Nabucco at St. Andrew’s church on King Street yesterday afternoon. It was strictly a concert version with the principals singing off music stands with no attempt at interaction. The principals were costumed, which helped keep straight who was who and recitative was eliminated in favour of a spoken summary before each scene. That made sense as there were no surtitles. Accompaniment was piano.
Act 1 Finale. L to R. Lauren Estey (Anna), Cristina Pisani (Abigalille), Lillian Brooks (Fenena), Corey Arnold (Ismaele), Michael Robert-Broder (Nabucco), Dylan Wright (Zaccaria), with the TCO Chorus
MixTape opened at Crow’s Theatre last night. It’s a one woman show conceived, written and performed by Zorana Sadiq. It’s a complex show and I describe it with some trepidation a i think the whole is considerably greater than the sum of the parts into which I must decompose it. Structurally it’s a mixture of story telling, stand up comedy, recital and recorded music facilitated by Sadiq’s training as a classical singer; Master of Music as she half proudly, half tongue in cheek informs us at one point. The music is eclectic; ranging from Neil Diamond and Michael Jackson to Messiaen and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. It all points to life stages and life events and to a growing realisation that music, and indeed sound, can be much more than we imagine in our first explorations of it. Some of the music is recorded but much is performed, expertly, by Sadiq. There are also, of course, references to the infamous “mx tape” and the limitations of cassette tape technology.
Back to the Royal Conservatory yesterday for the first time since the plague struck. Ironically the programme, which had originally featured the Dover Quartet with Davóne Tines, had to be rearranged at less than 24 hours notice due to one of the Dovers testing positive for COVID. What we got instead was two mini concerts. In the first half the New Orford Quartet performed works by Caroline Shaw and Mendelssohn and in the second Davóne Tines, with Rachael Kerr, performed excerpts from his Recital No. 1: MASS. Continue reading →
What is home? Where is home? The Home Project; a joint production of Native Earth Performing Arts and the Howland Company presented by Soulpepper, addresses these questions through three actors personal visions reflecting, in their own way, three aspects of the Canadian experience. The stories are interwoven on a simple set of moving boxes and a few pieces of furniture. The sound stage is more important than the physical stage and aural effects; well handled considering we are outside and there’s plenty of background noise, are crucial.
Back to the Emmet Ray yesterday for another show by Opera Revue. This time Dani Friesen and Claire Harris were joined by baritone Alexander Hajek which allowed for a three set show and quite a few duets. I was really struck by how much throwing in some duets makes the whole show seem more operatic. So what did we get? There was a lot of Mozart, notably duets from Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro, plus solo arias from both operas. And, of course, there was Kurt Weill from Dani. There was at least one Neapolitan songs and several musical theatre numbers (Alex looks very fetching in cat ears) and a guest singing Schumann and probably other stuff I’ve forgotten. All in all, a suitably varied and satisfying selection.
It’s not opera yet but I’ll take any live theatre I can get right now. Last night’s show was a joint presentation by Jamii Esplanade and Théâtre Français de Toronto of David Danzon and
Carolin Lindner’s La bulle. It’s not an easy show to describe. There is one character; Pierrot, dressed in the traditional manner and played brilliantly by Danzon. He inhabits a transparent dome. Pierrot dreams his dreams wordlessly through mime, drawing, dance and even text. He finds ways to communicate with the outside world; us, sitting in a 360 degree arrangement around the dome. There’s music and complex lighting effects. The show has real emotional depth and is strangely moving. At times it’s very funny and Danzon’s agility and ability to go through what seem like complete personality changes is rather remarkable. It’s playing at 8pm every night until September 5th in the courtyard at Berkeley Castle but I’m afraid all performances are sold out.
Last night I went to my first evening, indoor performance since March 12th last year. And today I feel like I’ve been hit with a brick! Being out in the evening until getting home after a concert time is something my body has apparently forgotten how to do over the last year or so!
Little did I suspect on March 12th 2020, as I attended UoT Opera’s Mansfield Park, that I would not review another live concert until July 14th 2021 but that’s how the COVID crumbled. Today I made it to one of Tapestry’s Box Concerts at CAMH on Queen Street. It was much more fun than my last visit which was for a meeting on infection control in the basement of the dreary old building, now demolished.
It seems like Ontario is changing its policy on what’s open and what’s not and who gets vaccinated and who doesn’t about three times/week right now and, among other things, it’s playing havoc with the creation of on-line content.