Soundstreams last night presented an intriguing double bill of works in Indigenous languages on Indigenous themes at, appropriately, the Daniels Spectrum. First up was Pimoteewin; music by Melissa Hui, words by Tomson Highway. This piece uses English narration with the singing in Cree. It tells the story of the Trickster and the Eagle going to find out where people go when they die. To quote him “Why are my people always disappearing like this?” The Trickster’ tries unsuccessfully to bring the spirits back to the land of the living and finally realises that that’s not such a good idea. Musically it had almost a liturgical or meditative quality with a lot of fairly hushed choral singing behind strong solo performances by Bud Roach and Melody Courage.
I really wasn’t at all familiar with Berlioz’ Béatrice at Bénédict before last night’s opening of a production by Metro Youth Opera at the Daniels Spectrum. All I knew was that it had something to so with Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and a reputation for being rather tedious. For the record it’s basically the Shakespeare play shorn of all the darker elements; no Don John, no fake funeral, resulting in a RomCom in which the title characters, after much verbal sparring, are finally brought to admit that they are in love and get married along with Claudio and Héro. Further compressed a little (Somarone is axed) for this production it runs a pleasingly untedious two hours or so.
Here’s another listing I missed in the chaos of moving back into the Kitten Kondo. Metro Youth Opera have a run of three performances of Berlioz’s Béatrice and Bénédict at the Daniels Spectrum (Aki Studio). The shows are on April 24th and 25th at 7.30pm and the 26th at 2.30pm. Alison Wong directs with Natasha Fransblow as Music Director. The cast includes Simone McIntosh as Béatrice and Asitha Tennekoon (Paris in the recent GGS La belle Hélène) as Bénédict. Full details and tickets are available here.
In concept/development/workshop since 2001, Brian Current and Anton Piatigorsky’s chamber opera, Airline Icarus, got its first complete, staged performance last night in a production directed by Tim Albery in the Ada Slaight Hall at the Daniels Spectrum. It’s an ambitious work taking us on a journey into the minds of the passengers and crew on a flight to Cleveland. It explores fear and desire and our need, as a society, to reach for ever greater heights regardless of cost. Hence the title. It only runs 60 minutes or so but it covers a lot of ground. More in fact than I could fully grasp without a copy of the libretto or surtitles. It’s also, refreshingly, not afraid to be funny in places.