September

princess2It’s September and the long, slow awakening after the annual aestivation begins.  There’s not a lot on yet but what there is is interesting.  The middle of the month sees Native Earth’s production of I Call myself Princess at the Aki Studio; previews from 9th to 12th September with official opening on the 13th and then shows until the end of the month.  My interview with playwright Jani Lauzon is here.  Also opening on the 13th is Tapestry Briefs at the Ernest Balmer Studio.  Hear the product of the LibLab, hear Stephanie Tritchew, Teiya Kasahara, Peter McGillivray and Keith Klassen and eat tapas.  It runs until the 16th.

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Anna Bolena at the COC

Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, in a production by Stephen Lawless, opened last night at the COC.  Bel canto fans, canary fanciers and, just maybe, the rest of us should rush and see it.  The singing is extraordinary.  The cast is led by Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role and she gives, pretty much, a masterclass in bel canto technique.  The control is extraordinary with gleaming top notes, exquisitely floated pianissimo, genuine trills and real emotion.  Only a slight raspiness occasionally evident in the recits even hinted that this was a singer who was too sick to perform only a few days ago.  Where to go next among some very fine performances?  Bruce Sledge as Percy I think.  This was thrilling tenor singing with passion, ringing high notes and wonderful musicality.

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The Nightingale sang

The COC’s revival of Robert Lepage’s 2009 production of Stravinsky’s The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, revived by Marilyn Gronsdalis a delightful mix of witty and clever stagecraft coupled with some fine music making.  It’s very much a work of two contrasting halves.  The first is a carefully constructed program of shorter Stravinsky vocal and instrumental works; all from the period 1911-1919 and all with a sound world reminiscent of The Firebird or Petrouchka rather than The Rite of Spring or the Dumbarton Oaks Concerto.  The full line up was:

  • Ragtime
  • Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet No.1
  • Pribaoutki
  • Berceuses du chat
  • Two Poems of Konstantin Balmont
  • Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet No.2
  • Four Russian Peasant Songs
  • Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet No.3
  • The Fox

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Last night at the Four Seasons Centre

For the last few years the COC has had a fairly glitzy evening at which the next season is announced and there are interviews, a few performances etc.  This year, for whatever reason, the two elements were divorced.  The season was announced in a press release win January with no fanfare; not even a press conference.  The glitzy bit happened last night with a cocktail reception and a stage event hosted by Brent Bambury.

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What’s on in April

marcyApril is a busy month for fully staged opera.  Canadian Opera opens two productions and there are shows from Opera Atelier, Against the Grain and Essential Opera.  First up is the COC’s revival of Robert Lepage’s production of Stravinsky’s The Nightingale and Other Short Fables.  This opens on April 13th and runs to May 13th.  In 2009 it sold out so this time there are nine performances.  Also at the COC there’s Donizetti’s Anna Bolena completing the Tudor trilogy.  It opens on April 28th with nine performances closing May 26th.

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Out like a lamb?

yourewelcome365pxNot much sign of spring as we move into the second half of the month but there are some things musical to enjoy while we await the return of the sun.  On March 18th at 2pm in Mazzoleni Hall there is You’re Welcome Rossini with the glamorous duo of Allyson McHardy and, the not seen often enough in Toronto, Lucia Cesaroni.  This one is officially sold out but there may be rushes.  Ten bucks says they do the Cat duet.
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The Ballad of East and West?

Wajdi Mouawad’s production of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, originally seen in Lyon, opened last night at the COC with Valérie Négre as revival director.  The piece has been somewhat restructured and the spoken dialogue changed to explode the idea that the piece is “about” some kind of crude juxtaposition of the “West”; Enlightened, civilized etc, and the “East”; obscurantist, cruel, barbarian etc.  To this end Mouawad has inserted a prologue before the overture where Belmonte’s father is holding a party to celebrate the return of his son and the others where he makes the above comparison in extremely crude terms and then invites his guests to play la tête du Turc, a game that involves hitting a Turk’s head with a sledgehammer.  The guests wade in with drunken abandon, except for Konstanze and Blonde who are clearly revolted by the idea.  This leads to a conversation around who changed and how while they were in captivity and so to telling the whole story in flashback.

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