The “postponed from the fall” double bill from the Glenn Gould School finally streamed on the Koerner Hall channel last night. The first piece was likely familiar to most viewers; Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins given in piano score in a production by Amanda Smith. The concept here is that Anna 2, rather than being a dancer, is some kind of on-line celebrity exploiting dating sites to bring her fame and fortune. The production had originally been designed for an audience and used moveable plexi-glass shields to ensure social distancing. It also made extensive use of projected conversation bubbles, emojis and other social media effects. This seems to have been ramped up in post production to add picture-in-picture effects and maybe to make the lighting; already a sort of rave inspired blend of blues and pinks with touches of rather lurid green, even more dramatic. With on screen subtitles it was arresting but maybe just a little too busy to fully process!
The second set of reGENERATION concerts of the Topronto Summer Music Festival took place yesterday at Walter Hall. The song portion, unusually, consisted of 100% English language rep, mirroring the Griffey/Jones recital earlier in the wee. The first concert kicked off with tenor Eric Laine and pianist Scott Downing with five songs from Finzi’s setting of Thomas Hardy; A Young Man’s Exhortation. It was good. Laine has a nice sense of style and very good diction. The high notes are there though sometimes, especially at the end of a line, they don’t sound 100% secure. There was some quite delicate accompaniment from Downing too.
Deborah Voigt appeared with Brian Zeger at Koerner Hall last night. I guess I was expecting something rather more ebullient from Ms. Voigt but what we got was a perfectly decent, slightly low key, recital with a heavy emphasis on American repertoire and very little banter, though she did unwind a bit toward the end of the program.
There Toronto Summer Music Festival, inevitably Americas themed this year, opened with a concert called Americans in Paris featuring music by Copland, Gershwin and Bolcom. It was a pretty mixed bag. It opened with Copland’s Appalachian Spring played by 13 members of the TSMF Ensemble and conducted by Tania Miller. It’s not a work I’m particularly fond of but here it was particularly unfocussed and soporific.
It’s one of the nicer things about Toronto that from time to time a visiting star at the COC will agree to do a free lunchtime recital in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. Today was the turn of American coloratura Anna Christy who is currently singing the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor. It was an exceptionally fun sixty minutes.
I was a little worried when she and accompanist Liz Upchurch just took their places and started. I need not have been. We got a set of three bel canto art songs that were full of virtuosity and personality. The sheer technical skill was obvious but so was the range of tone colour. Those doomandgloomists who think modern singers can’t act with the voice should listen to Ms. Christy. It’s all there. After that opening she did open up and explain the middle part of her set; pieces by Bolcom and Copland that she sees as natural successors to bel canto. Sung with exquisite attention to the texts one can see her point. She was also very funny and very human. I do like modern divas so much more than the one’s who get in a snit because the caviar isn’t the right temperature.
She finished up with arias by Rossini, Handel and Donizetti, all sung stylishly and with tasteful ornamentation. It was really classy. And to round things out her parents were there and it was her dad’s seventieth and there are no prizes for guessing how things finished up.