There are a couple of new streams coming up today. At 3pm EST Opera North is releasing a recording of Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti from a couple of years ago. The main local attraction is that Dinah is played by Wallis Giunta. That one is on Youtube. At 5pm husband and wife Alexander and Jimin Dobson are performing in the NAC’s Canada Performs series. This link should get you there.
There were a couple of fun things posted yesterday too. Ian Cusson performed in the NAC series playing 10 of the Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues. It’s still up on Facebook. Also the Kingston Symphony produced a very clever video of the finale of Beethoven’s Eroica with each musician performing their part at home and Evan Mitchell editing to create a complete video. It’s very clever and it’s up on Youtube.
And the Snow did Lie is a multimedia artwork to be appreciated by both the eyes and the ears, using ten images for string quartet based on André Bergeron’s lithographs for Germaine Guèvremont’s French-Canadian classic, Le Survenant. The music is by Adirondack based Welsh composer Hilary Tann and it’s performed by the Sirius Quartet. It plays tonight on Parma Records Livestage at 7pm EDT.
On May 6th from 5pm to 6pm EDT there’s an NAC sponsored livestream concert by husband and wife duo, Alexander Dobson; baritone, and Jimin Dobson on Baroque Violin, Modern Violin and Viola. This performance is presented through Dobshin Arts and there are more details here.
Today I want to draw your attention to Little Chamber Music and their Isolation Commissions. For $200, you get to choose an artist who will film a 4min video of themselves performing at home, something that reflects the impact our extraordinary social situation is having on their artistic practice. It might be an improvisation, a favourite piece, a work that brings comfort, a work in progress….that’s up to the artist.
Smaller donations are very welcome! Several people have asked if they can contribute to the general fund for commissions; each time they reach $200 they will pick a great artist from our community who is in a vulnerable position.
Right now there are ten videos up on the website and all the information on how to donate, get a tax receipt etc is at the bottom of the page. So whether you are in a position to help or just want some consolation, do visit the site. Meanwhile here’s Alex and Jimin Dobson with some Bach for Holy Week.
And in other news… Arts Anyway the third episode aka episode 3 is up on Youtube. And three shall be the number of the episode…
Carlisle Floyd’s Prince of Players was originally written for the Opera Studio in Houston as a chamber work. It was subsequently reworked as a full scale piece and taken up by Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera where it was performed and recorded in 2018. It’s a two act piece with a libretto by the composer that deals with the transition from men playing women on stage to the roles being taken by women for the first time in the reign of Charles II. It’s framed by the final scene of Shakespeare’s Othello. First time around Desdemona is played by noted actor Ned Kynaston to rapturous applause and praise from the king. The rest of the first act is the story of how Charles; influenced by his mistress and aspiring actor Nell Gwynn and the much more talented Meg Hughes who, to complicate matters, is Kynaston’s dresser and secretly in love with him, decides that times must change and women must play women on the stage. The act culminates in a confrontation between the king and Kynaston where the latter accuses the former of destroying his art and livelihood and the theatre with it. The king is unrelenting. This act is tight and well crafted with quite a lot of humour as well as some pathos.
Handel’s Alexander’s Feast is an oratorio to a text by Newburgh Hamilton based closely on an earlier Dryden St. Cecilia’s Day ode. The basic plot is that Alexander is feasting in captured Persepolis with his mistress Thaïs. Inflamed by the music of Timotheus he decides to burn down the city in revenge for his fallen soldiers. Cecilia descends from Heaven and substitutes music for the king’s barbarous intentions. There are solo and choral numbers and a couple of duets and there are two concerti; one for triple harp representing Timotheus’ lyre playing and an organ concerto for St. Cecilia. It’s all quite tuneful and interesting if not as inspired as some of the better known oratorios.
So this Thursday (Feb 22nd) at 8pm Tafelmusik are presenting Handel’s Alexander’s Feast at Koerner Hall. Chances to see Handel oratorios, other than Messiah, don’t come around that often and this one has a very decent line up of soloists; Amanda Forsythe, Alexander Dobson and Thomas Hobbs. And we have a special giveaway offer. Tafelmusik have provided a pair of tickets for readers of this blog. Comment below or email me (j DOT gilks AT rogers DOT com) with contact details and I’ll put your name in the hat. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow evening. The winner will be able to pick the tickets up at the box office before the show. If you can’t make Thursday there are also performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday but no freebies for those!
Here is what’s coming up. Valentine’s day sees two vocal recitals. At noon in the RBA there’s Clare de Sévigné and Rachel Andrist with The Truth about Love; the story of a young woman’s love gone awry. At 8pm Ian Bostridge has an all Schubert program at Koerner Hall. Thursday is also busy with members of the Ensemble Studio in a Russian program in the RBA at noon, a Johannes Debus masterclass at UoT at 2pm and Opera Trivia at the Four Seasons Centre at 7pm. Then on Friday at 7.30pm in Walter Hall there’s a free concert; Vocalini, from the undergrads of the UoT Opera. Also Thursday and Friday MYOpera have a couple of opportunities to see emerging artists. There’s a public masterclass with Philip Morehead at 6pm Thursday at the Edward Jackman Centre and a concert at 7.30pm Friday at the Vandenberg House.
The current Tapestry Briefs show presents work from the 2016 LibLab. It’s all new and, inevitably, very mixed. It started very strongly with a scene, The Call of the Light (Imam Habibi/Bobby Theodore) based on the 1984 attack on the Quebec National Assembly. The combination of an assault rifle carrying camo clad Alex Dobson , the rest of the cast (Jacquie Woodley, Keith Klassen, Erica Iris) writhing on the floor and dissonant extended piano from Michael Shannon was genuinely disturbing. Having a gun pointed straight at you from a few feet away doesn’t happen often at the opera.
Yesterday’s VOICEBOX presentation was Handel’s Rodelinda. It was given in their usual style. No sets (bar the odd projection), minimal props, concert wear and the singers mostly in front of an onstage orchestra. The main attraction was the “all star” cast. To have Christina Haldane, David Trudgen, Charles Sy and Alex Dobson in the principal roles is something of a luxury. The two young mezzos rounding out the cast; Gena van Oosten and Meagan Larios weren’t half bad either.
The decision by Toronto Masque Theatre to pair Purcell’s miniature opera, Dido and Aeneas, with James Rolfe and André Alexis’ piece on the lovers’ inner thoughts, Aeneas and Dido, paid off last night. It produced an evening of just the right length with two contrasting but complementary pieces working really well together.