The Academy Program is an important part of the Toronto Summer Music Festival. It allows selected young artists; singers, collaborative pianists and chamber/orchestral musicians, to work with experienced professionals in an intensive series of coachings, masterclasses etc culminating in a concert series. This year the mentors for the vocal/collaborative piano component were pianist Craig Rutenberg, who has worked everywhere and with everybody, and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke; a last minute replacement for an indisposed Anne Schwannewilms. I didn’t make it to any of the masterclasses, though word on the street is that they were exceptional, but I did make it to yesterday’s lunchtime concert in Walter Hall.
Dominick Argento’s 1971 work Postcard from Morocco is unusual. It’s opera meets Ionesco meets acid rock. It’s a weird and wonderful kaleidoscope of scenes and music “about” a group of characters who seem to have nothing in common except that they have showed up at a railway station in Morocco c. 1914. Michael Cavanagh’s production for UoT Opera plays it straight veering to OTT which seems about right. This piece doesn’t need directorial “interpretation” but it does need careful organisation and lots of energy. Cavanagh’s approach provided plenty of both.