The GGS’ production of Jonathan Dove’s Flight opened at Koerner Hall last night. This is going to be a somewhat unusual review and my thoughts about the piece itself should be taken in the context of what I’m about to write. The basic plot of Flight is, for me, quite literally the stuff of nightmares and by the third act I was having vivid and very disturbing flashbacks. This undoubtedly skewed my opinion!
As the rest of the world moves to live in-person performance Toronto is still mostly stuck in Covidland. My calendar for the month currently has two in-person shows (both courtesy of the RCM) and three streams. So:
November 6th at 7.30pm in Mazzoleni Hall. The GGS Opera programme is presenting Ana Sokolovic’s Svadba. It seems hard to believe that the premiere was over ten years ago!
November 27th at 8pm in Koerner Hall. Stewart Goodyear, soloists, the Penderecki Quartet and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir present the premiere of Goodyear’s Piano Quintet plus Beethoven’s 9th symphony in piano reduction. This one is also livestreamed.
And so to streams:
November 19th at 8pm. Soundstreams presents Love Songs; a 45 minute programme of music by Claude Vivier and Christopher Mayo. (ticketed)
November 25th at 7.30 pm (and the following three days). UoT Opera is performing Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. (free)
November 26th at 7.30pm. The COC and Against the Grain are collaborating on a staged Mozart Requiem. (free)
It seems like Ontario is changing its policy on what’s open and what’s not and who gets vaccinated and who doesn’t about three times/week right now and, among other things, it’s playing havoc with the creation of on-line content.
February always seems to be a busy month and the first half is shaping up that way. Things kick off on the 1st with the Sellars staging of di Lassus’ Lagrime di San Pietro at Koerner. On the 3rd Danika Lorèn is curating a concert at Heliconian for UoT Music. It’s called A Few Figs from Thistles, it’s at 7.30pm and it’s free. We are promised new songs by Danika based on poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Tekahionwake (E. Pauline Johnson) and Lorna Crozier.
Here’s what’s coming up of note in the next few weeks.
There are some interesting things coming up at the UoT Faculty of Music. On January 17th at 7.30pm there’s an opera double bill in Walter Hall featuring Toshio Hosokawa’s The Raven and The Maiden from the Sea (Futari Shizuka). Kristina Szabó features in the first piece with Xin Wang in the second. The composer conducts. See Wallace’s comment below for more information. Then at 2.30pm on January 20th in the MacMillan there’s the Student Opera Collective show. The libretto, as ever, is by Michael Patrick Albano. This time it’s a black comedy whodunnit about the death of Adriana Lacouvreur.
It’s recently been announced that Canadian soprano and snow shoveler Adrianne Pieczonka OC will join the Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School as its first Vocal Chair in May 2019. While my first thought was that a “vocal chair” sounded like something out of a Terry Pratchett novel, more serious consideration has convinced that this is a very good move indeed. There are a handful, but only a handful, of current Canadian singers who are enjoying as distinguished a career as Adrienne so she knows how the business works at its highest levels. She’s also a very grounded, down to earth, person so besides contributing to developing the vocal and dramatic talents of the GGS students I can’t think of too many people better able to coach/guide students around the snakes and ladders board of an opera career. Smart move Glenn Gould School.
This year’s GGS School fall opera was a presentation of three short works influenced by Dada and surrealism. The first was Martinů’s Les larmes du couteau. It’s a hard work to describe. Here’s what naxos.com has to offer:
Eleanor longs to marry someone like the Hanged Man, whose body is suspended over the stage. Satan appears, professing love for Eleanor, who rejects him, still longing for the Hanged Man, to which Satan now marries her, an event she celebrates by dancing a tango. A Negro Cyclist appears and Satan assumes the latter’s form. Eleanor seeks to attract the Negro/Satan, while her Mother makes gymnastic gestures at the back of the stage. Eleanor kisses the Negro, whose head bursts open, revealing Satan. Eleanor, terrified, stabs herself and the Hanged Man starts to dance to a foxtrot, as his head and limbs are detached, for him to juggle with. He comes to life and embraces Eleanor, but when she kisses him his head bursts open and the face of Satan is seen. She gives up her pursuit of love, while the Mother claims to know how to win Satan’s love, only to be rejected.
Les Larmes du couteau is very short in duration and offered obvious problems in staging, to be solved, it has been suggested, by the use of film.
Kateryna Khartova and Rachel Miller in Tears of the Knife
The Royal Conservatory has announced its concert programme for 2018/19. It’s not massively exciting from a classical vocal point of view although there are a few goodies and the odd surprise in the package. The most exciting is saved for the very end of the season when Thomas Hampson and son-in-law Luca Pisaroni have a recital at Koerner. That’s on 30th April 2019. The most surprising is the season opening gala, also at Koerner, on 2nd October 2018 which features Kathleen Battle. I’ll be honest, I thought she retired years ago.
Die Fledermaus offers a lot scope for reinterpretation. Like so many works involving spoken dialogue there is a tradition of reworking that dialogue to work in contemporary humour and geographic relevance to the point where there is no canonical version though there’s probably a set of general expectations. Joel Ivany’s production for the Glenn Gould School, which opened last night at Koerner Hall, goes further than most to create a “play within a play” dynamic riffing to some extent on the difficulty of staging an opera in a concert hall. He also makes the decision to use English dialogue but have the sung text in the original German (except for the finale).