Against the Grain Theatre’s presentation of Theatre of Sound’s production of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle opened last night at the Fleck Dance Theatre. It’s in English translation (by director Daisy Evans) with chamber ensemble and it reimagines the piece as the story of an elderly man caring for a wife who has dementia. What’s extraordinary is that the libretto works extremely smoothly with no changes. The rooms in Bluebeard’s castle are replaced by a trunk with objects that evoke memories from the couple’s long life together. The “torture” of uncertain first love, military service, marriage, children etc. In each scene a silent, younger, Judith (there are three of them representing different ages and life stages) appears until at the end all three are on stage looking at themselves in mirrors. It’s very beautiful and very moving.
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Against the Grain Theatre’s Orphée+; a burlesque inflected version of Gluck’s Orphée, opened a three show run last night at the Fleck Dance Theatre at Harbourfront. There are many, many things I want to say about this show and the challenge is going to be to present them in some kind of orderly sequence. First off there are expectations for an AtG show in Toronto that probably weren’t present when it opened in Columbus (It’s a co-pro with Opera Columbus and the Banff Centre). We have come to associate AtG with various kinds of “doing differently”; transladaptations, site specific stagings, staged art song and so on. In that context this is a rather conservative show. It’s a production of a canonic opera in a conventional theatre. It’s not a traditional production and would likely shock at the Met or the Lyric but would probably raise only half an eyebrow in Berlin or Barcelona. So I’m inclined to treat it as if I had seen it in Europe.
Darryl Block Photography
Mireille Asselin (Eurydice)
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