We’re dinosaurs… and we are dead

dove coverThat headline is taken from the eighth movement of Jonathan Dove’s 2016 work for orchestra and children’s chorus; A Brief History of Creation, which takes us in thirteen movements from the stars to man via, inter alia, rain, sharks, whales and monkeys.  The text, by Alasdair Middleton, is clever, engaging and singable.  The music is eclectic.  There are elements of atonality but also intense lyricism.  It’s by turns shimmery, frantic, doom laden and meditative.  It engages beautifully with the text and Dove has a very sure sense of what is and is not reasonable to ask of a children’s choir.  Some short text sections are left as spoken (with a very authentic Mancunian accent).  All in all, it’s a witty and enjoyable piece that doesn’t outstay it’s 45 minutes or so.

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joyce_el-khoury_coverThis review first appeared in the print edition of Opera Canada.

Lebanese Canadian soprano Joyce El Khoury’s new CD on the Opera Rara label is a sort of “tribute album” to 19th century Belgian diva Julie Dorus-Gras. Mme. Dorus-Gras was a fixture at L’Opéra de Paris in the middle decades of the century, though only after she had starred in the performance of Auber’s La muette de Portici which sparked off the Belgian revolution of 1830. In Paris she created many new roles including Alice in Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable and Princess Eudoxie in Halévy’s La Juive. She thrived on the mixture of bel canto and grand opera that flourished in Paris in this period.

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