Recent and upcoming

sitrIt’s been a bit quiet lately but there a couple of live shows and a video that you might want to check out.  None of them are opera really but whatever.  Shakespeare in the Ruff are doing something different this year.  They have a one hour show called Towards Rebirth which explores the themes of Rupture, Resilience, and Rebirth.  It was created in workshop by the actors and so it’s maybe not the most polished theatre you will ever see but it’s quite moving and sometimes very funny.  There are six more shows in Withrow Park at 3pm and 6.30pm Friday through Sunday.  It’s ticketed and PWYC.  Details here.

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COC fall 2021 season

it_never_endAs expected the COC’s fall season, announced today, is all virtual.  Even the RBA concerts will be 5 minute on-line nuggets.  The stuff on the main stage is pretty interesting though.  Here’s the line up (note all dates are “supporter opening night”.  General streaming starts 24 hours later.  All shows are at 7.30pm).:

  • 24th October: Russell Braun and tamara Wilson in concert with the COC Orchestra and Johannes Debus.  Details here.
  • 29th October: Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.  Amy Lane directs.  Roland Wood sings the man.  More details.
  • 12th November: Juno award winning jazz/folk fusion group Okan perform songs from their latest album.  Details.
  • 26th November: Mozart’s Requiem with Midori Marsh, Marion Newman, Andrew Hadji and Vartan Gabrielan plus the COC orchestra and chorus and Johannes Debus.  More.
  • 17th December: In Winter.  A concert featuring winter themed music including a new piece for solo, chorus and orchestra by Ian Cusson.  Performers include Melody Courage past and present members of the Ensemble Studio and the COC opera and chorus with Johannes Debus.  Details.

I’m a bit disappointed that there’s nothing concrete about a return to live with an audience performance but I’m not surprised.  I just hope the Village Idiot in Chief can get his mind around something like a vaccination passport in time for a post Christmas return.

At least all this content is free and that’s a big plus.

Mathis der Maler

My guess is that Paul Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler is an opera most opera amateurs have heard of but which comparatively few have actually seen.  The video release of a 2012 production at Theater an der Wien directed by Keith Warner is therefore very welcome.

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Soundstreams 21/22 season

In what seems to becoming the pattern, Soundstreams has announced a 21/22 season which is virtual for the balance of this year with a possible return to “live” early next year.

The digital performances include a new film, Garden of Vanished Pleasures, directed by Tim Albery with music by Cecilia Livingston and Donna McKevitt inspired by Derek Jarman and his garden.  That’s in September.  Ironically I might see it before Jarman’s own film about his garden which I have had on hold at the TPL since January!

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The Snow Maiden

Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden is a rather odd opera.  It’s set in some sort of idyllic pre-Christian Russia where the tsar is approachable, just and benevolent and the people spend most of their time drinking and having sex.  Into this world comes Snow Maiden, the fifteen year old daughter of Winter and Spring.  Her parents have various things to do and so decide to park the girl with the local peasantry.  Various romantic complications ensue involving a rather nasty, rich merchant Mizguir and the mysterious Lel, who may be a shepherd but likely isn’t mortal either.  The mating behaviour of the locals confuses Snow Maiden as she is incapable of falling in love.  Eventually Spring grants her that faculty and she gives herself to Mizguir, while really wanting Lel, but the rays of the sun on the first day of summer melt her. The natives ignore her death and get on with singing and dancing.

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Season announcements

A couple of “season” announcements have come in.  Inverted commas because it’s all rather provisional with more details to come. Opera Atelier is offering a virtual summer/fall season with a reprise of Handel’s Resurrection from July 29th through August 12th.  This time there is a Standard Audio Description; a tool for blind and partially sighted people.  The fall sees the final version of Edwin Huizinga’s Angel released as a film that will stream October 28th through November 12th,  The cast includes Measha Brueggergosman, Colin Ainsworth,  Mireille Asselin, Jesse Blumberg, Meghan Lindsay, John Tibbetts (Opera Atelier debut), and Douglas Williams.  An announcement about a return to in theatre perfomances will be made in January.

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Photo credit: Bruce Zinger

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More online goodies

The most substantial offering I’ve seen this week is a concert from Toronto Summer Music that aired last night.  It was a song recital by four of the Toronto’s better known young singers with Steven Philcox on piano.  Simona Genga sang some Mahler and some interesting songs by the Basque composer Jésus Gurudi (new to me!).  Clarence Frazer gave us excerpts from Die Schöne Müllerin plus three songs by Butterworth.  No prizes for guessing which three but they were well done.  Jamie Groote sang a set of Jake Heggie songs plus Strauss’ Beim Schlafengehen.  Always excellent to hear Strauss sung well.  Asitha Tennekoon rounded things off with a set from Wolff’s Mörike Lieder and songs by Holman (Fair Daffodils; obligatory CanCon), Gurney and Finzi.  It’s all high class stuff and there’s about 90 minutes of singing.  The platform is Vimeo and it looks and sounds good.  It’s free and available here.

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One swallow and all that

Faint signs of something approaching normality are in the air.  Following on from the TSO’s season announcement which promises shows with a live audience (unknown terms and conditions apply), Toronto Summer Music has announced that concerts in the third week of the festival will also have live listeners (as well as live streaming).  There’s a lineup of nineteen concerts at Grace Church on the Hill and tickets are on sale now at $50/each.

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Music for our (grim) times

In streaming news Soundstreams has added a lovely concert of Ian Cusson’s  Five Songs on Poems of Marilyn Dumont and Raven Chacon’s Ella Llora.  The performers are mezzo Rebecca Cuddy and pianist Gregory Oh.  I really urge people, Canadian or otherwise, to take a look at this.  The news, as it pertains to Indigenous people in Canada, has been really grim in recent weeks and I don’t know anything quite like Dumont’s verse for conveying certain aspects of the Indigenous experience.  She combines, sadness, anger and disarming humour in a way that touches me deeply and Ian’s settings intensify that.  I’ve written about these songs before but never at such a moment.

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