What do you get when you take nine multi-talented musicians from a variety of musical backgrounds and give them a Purcell toy box to play in? You get the latest concert in the Confluence series; ‘Tis Nature’s Voice: Henry Purcell Reimagined. It’s an amazingly fun evening that completely blows the cobwebs off the often stuffy Toronto baroque music scene. I can’t do a number by number account because I completely lost track. I was having way too much fun.
Last night we saw the preview of A Synonym for Love at the Gladstone Hotel. The Gladstone has a long and eventful history. Nowadays it’s a boutique “artist” hotel which serves as a performance space and gallery for various indie projects like the one we saw. The work itself is, I suppose, a pastiche. The music is Handel’s long lost cantata Clori, Tirsi e Fileno. It was written when Handel was 21 and isn’t maybe his greatest work but there’s a lot of really good music in it. The libretto is an English text by Deborah Pearson that takes the basic idea of a love triangle and gives it a modern twist. In Ms. Pearson’s story Clori, sung by soprano Traxy Smith Bessette, is a bisexual woman from Calgary in town for a fling with her male lover Phil (countertenor Scott Belluz) at, naturally, the Gladstone. She is followed by her jealous long term partner Theresa (soprano Emily Atkinson). Mayhem ensues. There are also three non-singing roles who act as “guides” to the audience and participate in the drama as hotel employees. Continue reading