A Northern Lights Dream is a new operetta by Michael Rose which premiered this last week at Toronto Operetta Theatre in a production directed by Guillermo Silva-Marin. A new operetta is a very rare thing. It;’s just not a form that contemporary composers seem to take to. There’s far too much spoken dialogue for an opera but the musical language; mostly tonal, often quite beautiful but not afraid to get more abrasive when appropriate, is much closer to that of contemporary opera than musical theatre. So an operetta it is.
…let me explain is a new CD of Canadian art song (mostly) from soprano Christina Raphaëlle Haldane. The first set consists of three arrangements of Acadian folk songs by by Carl Philippe Gionet. The three are quite different. L’Escaouette is fast, high, rhythmic and very high energy. Tout Passe is much more elegiacal while Wing Tra La is very playful. They are sung quite beautifully with piano accompaniment from the arranger. Ahania’s Lament is a longish piece in which Blake’s text is set by Samy Mousa. It’s a tough sing with a lot of high exposed passages against a minimal accompaniment. It’s a piece that it’s easy to get drawn into. It’s a good vehicle for Haldane’s crystalline upper register. Piano accompaniment by M.Gionet again.
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.
Last night Christina Haldane gave her first DMA recital at Walter Hall. The inspiration was a painting by Manet and the programme was almost entirely made up of chansons from the late 19th and early 20th centuries; Offenbach, Charpentier, Duparc, Debussy and Berlioz. The exception was the cycle The Living Spectacle by Erik Ross which closed out the first half. I could have used more variation of mood and style.
Considering we begin with a holiday weekend it’s a busy week. Tuesday sees Dimitry Ivashchenko and Rachel Andrist in recital in the RBA at lunchtime with a program of Russian song that, inevitably, includes Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death and works by Rachmaninov, Borodin, and Tchaikovsky. At 7.30pm that evening Christina Haldane is giving a DMA recital in Walter Hall. This isn’t your usual student gig. Christina has covered at Salzburg and the Royal Opera and made main stage appearances in several European countries. Both recitals are free.
On Wednesday Soundstreams have a concert called Magic Flutes with a series of contemporary pieces featuring five flute virtuosi, harp, viola, a bunch of percussion and Carla Huhtanen. It’s at 8pm at Koerner Hall. Further details.