Mysterious Barricades is a coast to coast series of concerts live streamed throughout the day in aid of Suicide Awareness and Prevention. I don’t know if there is anyone who has not been affected by someone taking their own life or has been close to it themselves. I do know that if such a person exists it’s not me. So attending a concert such as yesterday’s is hard and certainly not conducive to thinking in the way necessary to write a review. Let’s just say that the programme curated by Monica Whicher was appropriate; from the land acknowledgement by Don McLean that reminded us that suicide amongst Indigenous People is an even bigger problem than in the settler community to the finale chorale. Comforting too to think that I had friends taking part as far away as Halifax and Kelowna. But, for all that, a tough day at the office.
Beatrice Cenci is an opera by Berthold Goldschmidt; a composer who moved from Germany to London in the 1930s for the usual reason. Beatrice Cenci was written in 1950 but the orchestral style sounds rather earlier. Comparisons with Mahler have been made though I don’t really see that. Richard Strauss or Korngold perhaps? In any event the work didn’t get performed at all until the 1980s and had to wait until the 2018 Bregenz Festival for its first fully staged production directed by Johannes Erat. Curiously, though originally composed with an English libretto it was given in German in Bregenz.
This summer Against the Grain Theatre and UoT Opera have been collaborating on an Intensive focussed on modern opera. Last night saw the culminating show; This is Prophetic, featuring staged scenes from twelve post 1950 operas. Since there were one tenor, one baritone and nineteen assorted sopranos and mezzos selecting the scenes must have been quite a challenge. Unsurprisingly perhaps there was nothing from Billy Budd.
As regular readers know I review a fair number of video recordings of opera on DVD and Blu-ray. I know how I watch and listen to them but I know little about how readers experience them. I think it might be useful to know a little more so that I can think about different segments of readers when I’m reviewing. To that end I’ve created a short survey on Survey Monkey. It should only take a couple of minutes to complete and I would appreciate it if you could take the time to do so. Assuming there’s a non embarrassing response I’ll summarize the results here in a couple of weeks time.
The link to the survey is https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2CWB9PL
Thanks in advance.
Last night’s Toronto Summer Music concert at the Church of the redeemer was headlined by Daniel Taylor, Charles Daniels and Steven Philcox but, somewhat to my surprise, also featured multiple fellows from both the art song and chamber music programmes.
The “headliners” kicked things off with Britten’s canticle Abraham and Isaac, based on one of the Chester Mystery Plays. I thought I knew this piece but soon realised I was confusing it with the setting of Owen’s The Parable of the Old Man and the Young in the War Requiem! It’s an interesting piece with a very medieval Catholic take on an Old Testament story. It was performed here with the delicacy and attention to detail I’d expect from these performers.
The video recording, made at the Deutsche Oper in 2018, of Korngold’s rarely seen Das Wunder der Heliane is yet another lesson in holding off on making judgements on an opera or production until one has seen the whole thing. I still don’t think it’s a lost masterpiece but I’m feeling a lot less derisive than I was at the end of Act I.
It was the last concert of Confluence’s inaugural season last night. The theme was “At the River” and the venue the rather splendid (if somewhat popish) St. Thomas’ Anglican on Huron Street. It rather epitomized what I have come to expect, and love, from this series. The musical styles on display were eclectic; classical, folk song, pop/rock, jazz with East and South Indian, Middle Eastern and Indigenous elements all well to the fore. There was also some poetry including an unintentionally hilarious piece in praise of the idyllic Don River. There was also a large and accomplished ensemble and a lot of joy and sheer fun.