The Lion Heart

lionheartThe Lion Heart is a new opera by Corey Arnold and Kyle McDonald.  Their aim, as described in an interview on barczablog, was to create an opera that was more accessible to modern audiences than “most modern opera”.  I’m not sure how much “modern opera” they have actually seen/heard but what they seem to mean by accessible is a heavily scored neo-Romanticism supporting a through sung vocal line with nothing much in the way of an aria or any way for their singers to display their chops but we’ll come back to that. Continue reading

Date with the Divas volume 2

Date with the Divas volume 2 is the latest Youtube offering from Opera Sustenida (Stephanie DeCiantis – soprano and film diva, Nicole Whitney Dubinsky -soprano, Daniella Theresia – mezzo and tech diva and Suzanne Yeo – piano). It’s the first of their shows that I’ve seen. It’s one of those films where everything is recorded in people’s homes and then patched together into a film and it’s as well done as anything in the genre that I’ve seen. The video editing is really good though some sections that were broadcast “live” during the initial streaming were a bit weird sonically. Fortunately that didn’t affect the music.

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Telephone double bill

The third of Saturday night’s webstreams was Toronto City Opera’s double bill of Menotti’s The Telephone and Poulenc’s La voix humaine. The choice of rep makes sense in that it meant that very few people had to be assembled in the Ernest Balmer Studio where the recordings took place though it also looks a bit odd for a company that in normal times is about participation.

The Menotti is essentially a rather weak joke stretched out for half an hour. A man is trying to propose to a girl but every time he gets close to popping the question she either receives or makes a phone call. I thought it was a bit feeble the first time I saw it and it doesn’t wear well. It doesn’t help that it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to marry this utterly boring girl except, perhaps, her utterly banal suitor. I guess the basic problem is that anything trying to be “realistic” from the US in the 50s and 60s is almost bound to be dull as just about any interesting aspect of human life was off limits due to various kinds of censorship. Anyway, I think TCO got as much out of the piece as there is to be got. The contemporary updating had its witty moments and both Nicole Dubinsky and Johnathan Kirby; backed up by Ivan Jovanovic gave strong performances in the singing and acting departments.

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Tales of Hoffmann at Toronto City Opera

Toronto City Opera’s latest show, at the Al Green Theatre, is Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann.  It’s a pretty good choice for TCO since, even with cuts, there’s plenty of fun stuff for the chorus to do and  Jessica Derventzis’ production keeps a good chunk of them on stage pretty much throughout.  The production concept is straightforward.  It gets a late 19th century setting and the three acts are framed as presenting Hoffmann’s story to the group of drunken students.  It’s unfussy and works.

Toronto City Opera, Les Comptes d'Hoffmann

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