On-line roundup

Music-for-Self-Isolation_Horvat-620x670Ontario’s state of emergency seems to have slowed the production of on-line content to a trickle.  The only new things I’ve seen recently are from the ever reliable Opera Revue and Alexander Hajek.

Opera Revue’s eighth isolation production features five pieces from Frank Horvat’s Music for Self Isolation; a set of thirty one short pieces for one or two musicians written last spring.  The concert features the five pieces with a vocal part.  I have to say I liked the texts; taken from various sources, more than the music.  The music is sort of “singer sonwriterish”; simple, tonal, melodic, a bit repetitive.  It’s fine of its type but it’s not my bag.  Performances by various combos of sopranos Emily Ding and Dani Friesen, pianist Claire Harris and guitarist Michael McKenzie are very nice though and the recording; despite being done via Zoom, is perfectly acceptable.  The music may not be entirely my thing but I’m delighted that someone is doing projects like this.  You can find it on Opera Revue’s channel on Youtube.

Alex Hajek’s contribution is another intriguing Toronto based film this time featuring Der Doppelgänger from Scubert’s Schwanengesang.  It’s beautiful to look at and beautiful to listen to and, again, featurers Claire Harris on piano as well as Alex’ lovely baritone.  This one’s on Youtube too.  The channel is Alexander Hajek.

Besamé Opera

Last night Opera Five staged a double bill of two one act Spanish operas from the first quarter of the twentieth century.  The first was de Falla’s El retablo de maese Pedro.  This was written as a puppet opera blending a chivalric tale about the days of Charlemagne with an intervention by an increasingly angry Don Quixote.  Structurally it’s an interesting piece with the story being told to a quite simple vocal line by the soprano (Rachel Krehm) playing the puppet master’s boy with interruptions by her boss (Conrad Siebert) and, increasingly, by the one man audience, Don Quixote (Giovanni Spanu).  In between the action is acted out by shadow puppets accompanied by a a rather lush “soundtrack”.  Finally Don Quixote loses patience with the whole thing and tears down the set before going on a rant about the virtues of knights errant and himself in particular.  Staged as a sort of children;s game by director Aria Umezawa, it played very well to this company’s strengths.  It was well sung, clever, funny, irreverent and enormously enjoyable.  Music director Maika’i Nash once again did that thing I find incredible,m impersonating a whole orchestra on piano, this time with some help from Conrad Siebert on various percussion instruments.

Bésame Ópera-Retablo-puppet show

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