Getting intimate with Figaro and Susanna

rachaelkerrI chatted this morning with Rachael Kerr; music director of Against the Grain’s upcoming Figaro’s Wedding.  I saw the original version back in 2013 and was wondering what might be different this time.  I also wondered whether there might be some insights to be gained by approaching it from the perspective of the music rather than the libretto.  Hence my decision to talk to Rachael rather than other members of the team.

I think I lucked in.  It proved to be a most interesting conversation which ultimately turned on why this would be an engaging show and how that turned on “intimacy”.  So first let’s review the elements of the show: Continue reading

December listings

December is not just Messiah though heaven knows there are plenty of those…

On Sunday 1st Voicebox is presenting Janáček’s Katya Kabanova.  It has a strong cast including Lynn Isnar, Emilia Boteva, Michael Barrett and Cian Horrobin.  We don’t see nearly enough Janáček in Toronto.  That’s at 2.30pm at the St. Lawrence Centre.

Against the Grain’s remount of Figaro’s Wedding runs December 3rd to the 20th at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse at 8pm.  Music direction this time is by Rachael Kerr and the cast includes Bruno Roy, Miriam Khalil, Ally Smither, Phillip Addis, Lauren Eberwein, Jacques Arsenault, Maria Soulis and Greg Finney.  Review of the 2013 original.

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First half of November

I think it’s time to get back to doing two listing posts per month as the schedule is getting pretty busy.

On November 1st at 8pm Karina Gauvin is appearing at Koerner Hall with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra in a programme of opera arias from 18th century St. Petersburg.  The following night at 7.30pm, in Mazzoleni Hall, the Glenn Gould School has its fall production.  This time it’s Jonathan Dove’s Siren Song.  Curiously UoT Opera is also doing a work by Dove this season.

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What’s old is new

Back to the Tranzac last night for the first Toronto performance of Against the Grain’s national tour of the Joel Ivany transladaptation of Puccini’s La Bohème which started it all back in 2011.  The Tranzac has changed a lot and so, of course, has Against the Grain.  The room is way smarter, they brought in a proper piano to replace the one that Topher plonked the first performance out on (and which memorably accompanied Jonathan MacArthur’s rather startling Hitler a few years later).  And not in any way to knock that first cast it’s a sign of AtG’s rising stature that this time they are fielding a cast that would not be out of place in most regional houses in Canada.

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And on other media…

220px-Podcasting_icon.svgCanadian Art Song Project has just brought out a podcast on the important issue of how Ingigenous stories and music are represented in Western art music.  Besides regulars Lance Wiliford and Steven Philcox, the podcast features mezzo-soprano Marion Newman and composer Ian Cusson.  You can listen to or download the podcast here

Then on October 13th at 7:30 pm the CBC will livestream Against the Grain’s La Bohème from the Tranzac Club directly to your personal devices via CBC Gem.

Also… Turandot at the COC. My review will be up on Bachtrack once it’s through the editorial process.  I’ll post links.

What’s on in October

rusalka-1-1I can’t believe an October preview post already.  But here it is.  So what’s on?  Against the Grain’s Opera Pub kicks off again on the 5th at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club.  It’s the usual 9pm start but come really early if you want a table.  The 10th to the 12th sees Amplified Opera’s series of three shows at the Ernest Balmer Studio.  The 11th is the first Toronto date for Against the Grain’s La Bohème tour.  That’s 7.30pm at the Tranzac.  Other dates and other city information here.  The 12th is opening night for Dvořák’s Rusalka at the COC.  Full details on dates, cast, tickets etc here.  On the 19th UoT’s Early Music programme are doing Handel’s Acis and Galatea at the Heliconian Club at 2pm.

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