Celebrating the Invictus Games

Yesterday’s RBA concert was titled Celebrating the Invictus Games.  Now the Invictus Games is a sporting competition for athletes disabled on military service.  It has royal patronage and has clearly become part of the official pageantry of celebrating all things military, as witnessed by the presence of the Lieutenant Governors of Ontario and Alberta at yesterday’s concert.  For me it raises all kinds of questions about why we put the military on a pedestal and how we do it and that is very tied up with the choice of rep at a concert like yesterdays.  I’ll come back to that at the end of this piece, after reviewing what we actually heard.

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Brundibár

terezinThe current Canadian Children’s Opera Company show; Brundibár, represents something of a new direction from the company.  Previous shows, at least those I’ve seen, have been quite light and based, typically, on fantasy, fable or popular history.  The current offering is altogether more serious.  At its core is Brundibár, a children’s opera written by Hans Krása for a Prague orphanage in 1939 and subsequently performed over fifty times in the “showcase” concentration camp at Terezin. Continue reading

Up close with Aschenbach

Death in Venice is a curious opera.  Based on a Thomas Mann novella, it concerns the aging writer Gustav von Aschenbch and his meditations on aging and art, as well as his obsession with a Polish boy encountered at his Venice hotel.  Very little actually happens.  Aschenbach has a series of encounters with quotidien characters such as the hotel manager and a hairdresser but mostly he observes and what we hear are a series of inner monologues.  To work as theatre Aschenbach must capture our interest and our sympathy.  If he doesn’t the piece can be incredibly boring and irritating.

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