Saturday night’s show in the West End Micro Music Festival continued the theme of combining chamber music with other influences. This time it was rock; specifically NYC 80’s rock. It was really varied, stimulating and, at times, bordering on sensory overload. Brad Cherwin riffed with pre-recorded clarinet and electronics on a version of Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint to open the show. Then came what might have been my favourite bit. It was a version of Julia Wolfe’s East Broadway for electronics and toy piano. Watching the usually soft spoken, even demure, Nahre Sol go completely manic and beat the crap out of a toy piano was a blast.
There was more Julia Wolfe (Blue Dress for drums and cello?) and a David Lang arrangement of Lou Reed’s Heroin with Cormac Culkeen on vocals and a fairly large ensemble and more vocals with a version of Laurie Anderson’s Let X=X and It Tango. The final number was a killer version of David Lang’s Killer with Hee-Soo Yoon playing mad distorted violin while kicking a bass drum.
So, again, WEMMF hit the spot with an intriguing and (over) stimulating blend of rock, classical technique, minimalism and, frankly, sheer lunacy of a kind surely not heard before at Redeemer Lutheran! Great fun much enhanced by Billy Wong’s evocative lighting and Dave Grenon’s sound work.
The final concert is next Friday, also at Redeemer Lutheran, QUARTET PLUS PAPER V2 will feature, inter alia, a new multimedia work for pianist, clarinetist/visual artist, video projection and electronics composed and performed by Nahre Sol and Brad Cherwin.
Back to relative quiet! The main event in the coming week is the GGS spring production. They are doing Handel’s Alcina. The cast includes Meghan Jamieson, Irina Medvedeva, Christina Campsall, Lillian Brooks, Joanna Burt, Asitha Tennekoon and Keith Lam. Leon Major directs and Ivars Taurins conducts. The publicity material suggests a 1920s setting. Anyway it’s at Koerner Hall at 7.30pm on Wednesday and Friday.
There are a couple of kid friendly March break concerts in the RBA. Tuesday sees what seems to have become an annual event; Kyra Millan’s Opera Interactive. This year she is joined by Tina Faye and Charles Sy. Then on Thursday Cawthra Park Chamber Choir and conductor Bob Anderson, one of the GTA’s leading school choirs, present various choral traditions and styles from the Renaissance to contemporary Canadian works. Charles Sy, a Cawthra Park alumnus also features in this one. Both at noon of course.
Then at the Newmarket Theatre on Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2pm opera Luminata are performing. This is a rather odd spectacular thing with taped orchestra and pyrotechnics. I haven’t seen them but they got a rather more positive reception than I expected last time around. www.operaluminata.com for details.
So, onto Siegfried. Now we are in 1968 but it’s a rather laid back Danish 1968. It doesn’t reference any of the canonical events of that momentous year though there is a bit of a youth vs experience vibe. Holten doesn’t let us forget that Siegfried is 18 and Stig Anderson, at 60, manages to pull off the look very well. James Johnson’s Wotan, on the other hand, is shown in decline; the elder statesman who can’t retire gracefully, like a Berlusconi or Murdoch. Mime is an ageing nobody hunched over his typewriter and still yearning for some “success”.
Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda must be, at twenty two minutes, one of the shortest operas around. In typical Monterverdi style though it crams a lot of music and emotion into a very short space. Based on a story by Torquato Tasso, it concerns a Christian knight, Tancredi, and a Moorish princess, Clorinda. Somehow they have managed to fall in love but are still fighting on opposite sides They meet on the battlefield but as each has their visor down they don’t recognize each other. They fight a long and bloody single combat in which Tancredi mortally wounds Clorinda. When their helmets are removed they recognize each other and Clorinda asks Tancredi to baptize her so they can be united in heaven. It’s pretty dodgy theology but great theatre.
There’s lots to like in the 2003 Glyndebourne recording of Die Fledermaus. Let’s start with Stephen Lawless’ production. It’s attractively designed, quite slick and has a few good new gags without going overboard. The sets are designed with striking diagonals and staircases and gantries. Rotation is used both as a device to change the setting and as an element in the scene composition. The overall effect is that the scene changes from drawing room to a sort of “gilded cage” for Orlofsky’s party – which opens out to create space for the action – to a prison with minimum disruption to us or the action. Spots are used to create stagey effects and at one point Jurowski in the pit ostentatiously upstages the actors on stage. Lawless never lets us forget this is a “show”. Continue reading →