Mirror, Mirror is a fifteen minute film from Essential Opera based on a score and libretto by Anna Pidgorna. There’s a lot to unpack for a fifteen minute work! First off, let’s be clear that this is a film and not a video of a performance or production that might have had a live audience. It’s shot on location in Nova Scotia; on the beach, in the forest etc. And it’s done very well with excellent editing and high quality in the audio and video recording.
This is an interesting CD. It couples the rather rarely performed Schubert cycle to texts by Sir Walter Scott with a new Fiona Ryan cycle on the same theme. The reason the Schubert is a bit of a rarity is that, besides high and low voice and piano, one number requires a female chorus and another a TTBB quartet. In fact here those two pieces were recorded separately in different locations but I don’t think it’s apparent listening to the disc. The Schubert also includes the well known Ave Maria, the sixth song in the cycle, given here in the German originally used by Schubert rather than the Latin version usually heard. It’s a very decent performance. Maureen Batt is the soprano (and the evil genius behind the whole enterprise). Her voice is light and clear and her diction is excellent. Even a piece like the Ave Maria sounds fresh. Jon-Paul Décosse is the baritone. It’s a firm, confident voice, again with every word clearly audible. Simon Docking provides excellent accompaniment. The Bootgesang is performed by Leander Mendoza and Justin Simard; tenors with Robert O’Quinn and James Levesque; baritones, again with Docking at the piano. This might be the most fun piece of the cycle. For the elegiac Coronach we get The Halifax Camerata Singers conducted by Jeff Joudrey with Lynette Wahlstrom at the piano. They sound very pleasant.
I thought I’d managed a pretty comprehensive update on the Toronto opera/choral/vocal music scene for March but there are a couple of gigs I got rather later info on.
On March 23rd at 7pm in Walter Hall, CASP have a concert of works from the more humorous end of the Canadian Art Song rep. Mary-Lou Fallis, Geoff Sirett, peter Tiefenbach and Steven Philcox are performing. Tickets are $40, $25 (senior) and $10 (student).
Then on Friday 27th Maureen Batt and Cheryl Duvall are performing a program of contemporary American and Canadian works, many of them written for Maureen, at Heliconian Hall. It’s at 8pm and tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door and there are $15 early bird tickets available at https://www.bemusednetwork.com/events/detail/69
And in other news Voicebox:Opera in Concert have announced a cast change for their performance of Charpentier’s Louise on the 29th. Keith Klassen replaces Adrian Kramer as the poet Julien.
Last night we attended a concert in the relatively new performance space at the Canadian Music Centre. It’s a very pleasant room, set up for recording, and seating maybe 50. The program consisted of four recent works by Canadian composers; three short opera scenes for soprano and piano and a piano piece.
Last night I went to see Essential Opera’s cheap and cheerful production of Brecht and Weill’s The Threepenny Opera. It was a semi staged production in the relatively small Heliconian Hall. Semi-staged in this case meant sung in costume from music stands with very basic blocking. Accompaniment was by Cathy Nosaty on piano and accordion which actually suited the music pretty well.
The singing was good, sometimes very good. Probably the stand out was Laura McAlpine’s Jenny. Of all the singers on display she was the one who seemed most immersed in the sound world of the piece and could vary style and technique appropriately. Erin Bardua’s Lucy Brown was really quite idiomatic too. The others were more consistently operatic which sounded a bit odd in places but worked surprisingly well in, for example David Roth and Heather Jewson’s rather refined refined and bourgeois Peachums. Obviously this approach also worked for the character who are usually sung operatically; Macheath, Brown and Polly for example. The ensembles were all also very effective.