Opera Atelier’s french double header opened last night at the Elgin Theatre. It was, bar the occasional twist, classic Opera Atelier. They presented two French baroque operas in their distinctive style with a little humour and none of the excesses that have sometimes crept in.
Opera Atelier have announced their 2018/19 season. As usual, there are two shows. In the Fall there is a double bill of Charpentier’s Actéonpaired with Rameau’s Pygmalion (Oct. 25 – Nov. 3, 2018). Colin Ainsworth, who has also been named as OA’s first “artist in residence”, features in both title roles with Mireille Asselin as Diana and Amour and Allyson McHardy as Juno and Céphise. The supporting cast includes Jesse Blumberg, Christopher Enns, Meghan Lindsay, Cynthia Smithers and Anna Sharpe. Pygmalion will be prefaced by Opera Atelier’s first Canadian commission for solo baroque violin and contemporary dancing, entitled Inception. It will be performed by composer/violinist Edwin Huizinga and choreographer/Artist of Atelier Ballet, Tyler Gledhill. Following its Toronto dates, the show will tour to the Royal Opera House in Versailles.
There are umpteen operas based more or less closely on the legends surrounding Medea, Jason, the Golden Fleece and the events afterwards in Corinth. Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s 1693 version to a libretto by Corneille deals with the events in Corinth subsequent to Jason and Medea’s return with the fleece. The plot, in essentials, is simplicity itself. Jason is scheming to secure his future, and that of his children, by ditching Médée and marrying the king’s daughter Créuse. Médée is not having this and wreaks revenge on just about everybody else in the piece. Somehow Charpentier and Corneille string this out over five acts and the obligatory prologue glorifying Louis XIV, wisely omitted by director Marshall Pynkoski.
Opera Atelier has announced its 2016/17 season. The fall production will be Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. It isn’t clear whether this is a new production or a revival. The company has done the piece before; at the MacMillan Theatre in 1989 and 1994, in 2005 at the Elgin and in sundry tour venues. It’s not paired with anything so it’s either a very short show or there is a lot of interpolated dance. Wallis Giunta and Chris Enns play the lovers with a supporting cast that includes Meghan Lindsay, Laura Pudwell, Ellen McAteer, Karine White and Cory Knight. Nice to see Karine getting a chance on a professional stage. There are six shows at the Elgin between October 20 and 29, 2016.
Last night’s TSO concert was pretty satisfying. It kicked off with The Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome. I don’t think I’ve ever really listened to this without visuals before so that was interesting. I thought Michael Sanderling did a good job of maintaining clarity while building towards the big climax. For the rest of the program the orchestra was joined by Simone Osborne. We got some “lollipops” in the first half. The Song to the Moon from Rusalka, Depuis le jour from Louise and, unannounced, Vilja from The Merry Widow. Lovely singing, here sensitively accompanied by Sanderling and the orchestra. Simone was clearly audible throughout which doesn’t always happen at Roy Thomson Hall.
For those of you who won’t be glued to the underwater cycling at the Pan-Am games there is actually music on in Toronto over the summer. The tenth Toronto Summer Music Festival features a wide range of events in many genres. The ones likely to be of most interest to AR readers follow.
According to Schmopera, the line up for 2014/15 for the Voicebox: Opera in Concert season at the Jane Mallett Theatre will be Manuel de Falla’s La Vida Breve, Weill’s Street Scene, Charpentier’s Louise and the premier of Isis and Osiris by composer Peter-Anthony Togni with a libretto by Sharon Singer, both Canadians. The only one of these I’m at all familiar with is La Vida Breve, which is rather good (DVD review). However there’s plenty of information on Isis and Osiris available here and here. The latter link includes almost 18 minutes of music from the piece.
All in all, as one has come to expect from Voicebox, an interesting line up. More details here as they become available.