Mr. Emmet Takes a Walk

Mr Emmet 500x500Mr. Emmet Takes a Walk is the latest in the series of rereleases of works by Peter Maxwell Davies performed by the Manchester ensemble Psappha.  The work premiered in 2000 and was recorded in 2005 and it’s the composer’s penultimate work for the stage. (FWIW I’ve heard five of PMD’s stage works but never seen one performed).

The libretto, by David Pountney, describes what goes on in Mr. Emmet’s head as he prepares to commit suicide by having a train run over his head.  It’s a series of blackly comic episodes including. negotiating a deal with Hungarians in a Japanese hotel, a sinister encounter with a heating engineer, a cabaret act and more.  The scenes are interspersed with pre-recorded lists of “things to remember” including “things to dislike” like Americans and New Labour.  Like other PMD pieces the instrumentalists are sometimes incorporated i the stage action.

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He’s also a short arse but…

rebeccacA bit of a change of pace last night.  I went to see Rebecca Caine and Robert Kortgaard perform in the Shaftesbury Salon series.  Rebecca is one of the original crossover artists; flipping back and forth between opera and musical theatre with a bit of cabaret thrown in.  Last night’s show was definitely firmly in musical theatre territory.  There wasn’t a programme so I don’t have a full listing of numbers.  The first half of the evening was a selection, in essentially chronological order, of works from British musical comedy and reviews of the first half of the last century; each associated with a particular star of the period.  This is music that has pretty much disappeared off the face of the planet.  It’s “light” but rooted in classical singing style/technique unlike the more jazz/pop influenced show music that came after.  It’s also not much like American music of the period; a difference made obvious when Ms. Caine threw in a Kurt Weill number.  Some of it, though by no means all, is fairly undemanding vocally, being written for performers who were perhaps more noted for assets other than their singing technique.  Ms. Caine though has both.  We got these musically rather variable numbers very well sung interspersed with a compact and witty commentary from the very vivacious Ms. Caine.

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‘Tis the season to speculate

Finley-Gerald-02With a month or so to go before the Canadian Opera Company officially announces its 2013/14 season it’s surely time for some uninformed speculation.

There are three big anniversaries in 2013; the bicentenaries of Verdi and Wagner and the centenary of Benjamin Britten.  One would think all would be represented but maybe not.  We know Verdi will be.  Gerald Finley announced at the Rubies that he would make his role debut in the title role in Falstaff at COC in 2013/14 so we can ink that one in.  Britten seems probable.  There’s a Houston/COC co-pro of Peter Grimes, directed by Neil Armfield that is due to to come to Toronto.  I think we can pencil that one in.  No idea on casting but I would love to see Stuart Skelton myself.  Wagner, I’m not so sure.  Maybe February’s run of Tristan und Isolde will be COC’s sole nod to Wagner.  Certainly the next most likely candidate; the Lyon/Met/COC Parsifal is, apparently, not expected before 2015.

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