Regular readers will know I’m something of a Peter Grimes completist so I was interested to get my hands on a recording previously unheard by me (one of only two such!). It’s a 1992 recording made in Watford Town Hall and, as far as I know, was not made in conjunction with a stage run. The Grimes is Anthony Rolfe Johnson with Thomas Allen as Balstrode and Felicity Lott as Ellen Orford. There’s also a young Simon Keenleyside as Ned Keene. Bernard Haitink conducts with Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House. Continue reading
Tag Archives: allen
ARC’s production of Marius von Mayenburg’s 2012 play Martyr opened at the Aki Studio last night. It’s presented in an English translation by Maja Zade and directed by Rob Kempson. I think it’s more than a just a direct German to English translation. names have been changed for instance and there are definite shifts in directorial approach from the Berlin production. I think the best way to understand what this is all about is to start with the original German version and how it may have looked to a Berlin audience and then look at how time, space and directorial decisions may affect audience reception.
Candide on SACD
My review of the recording of the London Symphony Orchestra’s semi-staged version of Bernstein’s Candide starring Jane Archibald, Sir Thomas Allen, Leonardo Capalbo and Anne-Sophie von Otter, conducted by Marin Alsop, is now up at Opera Canada. It’s a hybrid CD/SACD release with exceptionally good sound quality.
The Birds, by Bygone Theatre currently playing at Hart House Theatre is loosely based on the du Maurier short story and the subsequent Hitchcock film. The idea, the script and the direction are all the work of Emily Dix. The concept, building on the uncertainties of the Trump era and COVID is to explore “how do you explain to someone outside of a crisis the things you did to survive it? How do you justify to the world, and eventually, even yourself, what “crazy” things you did, completely necessary and justified at the time, when afterwards much of the world seems determined to pretend that crisis never existed?” (Director’s Notes). I’m not sure it really does that.
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
I guess when events are just too horrible to treat any differently one makes a comedy out of them. The aftermath of the US led invasion of Iraq certainly fits that category and Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, currently being performed by Modern Times Stage Company at the Streetcar Crowsnest, is as black a comedy as you will likely ever see. It’s also very difficult to write about without major spoilers.
Orphans for the Czar
How far will people go in the effort to survive? How can they preserve some sense of self respect and dignity in that survival? I think these are the questions underlying George F. Walker’s play Orphans for the Czar which had its world premier last night at Crow’s Theatre in a production directed by Tanja Jacobs.
Last night’s concert by the UoT Fall Baroque Academy was more Sesto in a Sauna then Giulio Cesare in Egitto. The music was all from Handel’s arguably greatest opera but the great man himself went unrepresented. Various mezzos and sopranos plus a counter tenor got through pretty much all of Sesto’s arias, Cleo’s big three arias were all presented and there was a smattering of Cornelia, Tolomeo and one aria from Achilla,the only low voice on display. The venue was Trinity College Chapel, notably not only for lack of air conditioning (on the hottest day of the year) but also for an acoustic that is kind to instrumental ensembles but tends to suck voices up into the high vaulted roof. Some singers coped better than others.
Running a little late here
Back in January I saw Opera 5’s show Modern (Family) Opera at the Arts and Letters Club. I didn’t review it here because I was covering it for Opera Canada. It seems that there was some breakdown in communication, probably the dodgy email connection at our temporary digs last winter, and it never made it to the mag and so wasn’t printed. It’s a pity as it was a good show and so, belatedly, I’m sticking the review here, for the record, instead.
Has it really been forty years?
The recently announced death of Jon Vickers has had me thinking a lot about connections. Vickers sang the title role in the second opera I saw live; Peter Grimes at Covent Garden in July 1975. Oddly, the first was The Rhinegold, at ENO, conducted by Reginald Goodall who also conducted the premiere performance of Peter Grimes in 1945. The summers of 1975 and 1976 were the first real chance, and the last for a while, that I had to see opera live. I worked those summer vacations in banks in central London which meant that I could use my lunchbreak to get a rush ticket for the evening performance. Living thirty miles out with a train to catch meant it wasn’t something I could do often but I did catch a couple of performances in each of those summers and, as I look back, there are so many beginnings and endings and connections.