It’s still pretty quiet but there are some things still going on:
August 16th to 20th, the National Ballet has free performances at Harbourfront incorporating a number of partners and an eclectic mix of dance styles. Details.
August 28th at pm in the Music Garden at Harbourfront Lawrence Wiliford and PhoeNX Ensemble are performing Alec Roth’s Songs in Time of War. This one is free and outdoors so “weather permitting”. Continue reading →
Back to the Emmet Ray yesterday for another show by Opera Revue. This time Dani Friesen and Claire Harris were joined by baritone Alexander Hajek which allowed for a three set show and quite a few duets. I was really struck by how much throwing in some duets makes the whole show seem more operatic. So what did we get? There was a lot of Mozart, notably duets from Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro, plus solo arias from both operas. And, of course, there was Kurt Weill from Dani. There was at least one Neapolitan songs and several musical theatre numbers (Alex looks very fetching in cat ears) and a guest singing Schumann and probably other stuff I’ve forgotten. All in all, a suitably varied and satisfying selection.
Last night I went to my first evening, indoor performance since March 12th last year. And today I feel like I’ve been hit with a brick! Being out in the evening until getting home after a concert time is something my body has apparently forgotten how to do over the last year or so!
It seems like less on-line “opera” content is being produced as Europe prepares to return to theatres and Canada holds it breath. A few things are ongoing though and there’s fun new content from Natalya Gennadi and friends with HBD!Project April. More fine singing and stunning graphics.
There’s also Isolation Series: Wash, Dry, Reset from Opera Revue featuring the mordant wit and musical talents of Dani Friesen, Alexander Hajek and Claire Harris, plus dish detergent and popcorn. Both are on Youtube on channels Natalya Gennadi and Opera Revue respectively.
Ontario’s state of emergency seems to have slowed the production of on-line content to a trickle. The only new things I’ve seen recently are from the ever reliable Opera Revue and Alexander Hajek.
Opera Revue’s eighth isolation production features five pieces from Frank Horvat’s Music for Self Isolation; a set of thirty one short pieces for one or two musicians written last spring. The concert features the five pieces with a vocal part. I have to say I liked the texts; taken from various sources, more than the music. The music is sort of “singer sonwriterish”; simple, tonal, melodic, a bit repetitive. It’s fine of its type but it’s not my bag. Performances by various combos of sopranos Emily Ding and Dani Friesen, pianist Claire Harris and guitarist Michael McKenzie are very nice though and the recording; despite being done via Zoom, is perfectly acceptable. The music may not be entirely my thing but I’m delighted that someone is doing projects like this. You can find it on Opera Revue’s channel on Youtube.
Alex Hajek’s contribution is another intriguing Toronto based film this time featuring Der Doppelgänger from Scubert’s Schwanengesang. It’s beautiful to look at and beautiful to listen to and, again, featurers Claire Harris on piano as well as Alex’ lovely baritone. This one’s on Youtube too. The channel is Alexander Hajek.
Last night Confluence Concerts streamed their latest offering; a tribute to Henry Purcell, preceded by a pre-show interview between Larry Beckwith and Andrew Parrott. There was beautifully played instrumental music from Victoria Baroque, songs from Lawrence Williford and Lucas Harris recorded at the Elora Festival and a couple of interesting takes on If Music Be the Food of Love plus Two Daughters of this Aged Stream featuring Daniel Taylor, Rebecca Genge and Sinéad White plus instrumentalists from the UoT Faculty of Music Historical Performance Department. I was less taken with Duo Serenissima (Elizabeth Hetherington, soprano and David Mackor, theorbo). I can’t tell whether it was the recording acoustic or a diction issue but the words were pretty much unintelligible which is a big problem with Purcell!.
Carlisle Floyd’s Prince of Players was originally written for the Opera Studio in Houston as a chamber work. It was subsequently reworked as a full scale piece and taken up by Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera where it was performed and recorded in 2018. It’s a two act piece with a libretto by the composer that deals with the transition from men playing women on stage to the roles being taken by women for the first time in the reign of Charles II. It’s framed by the final scene of Shakespeare’s Othello. First time around Desdemona is played by noted actor Ned Kynaston to rapturous applause and praise from the king. The rest of the first act is the story of how Charles; influenced by his mistress and aspiring actor Nell Gwynn and the much more talented Meg Hughes who, to complicate matters, is Kynaston’s dresser and secretly in love with him, decides that times must change and women must play women on the stage. The act culminates in a confrontation between the king and Kynaston where the latter accuses the former of destroying his art and livelihood and the theatre with it. The king is unrelenting. This act is tight and well crafted with quite a lot of humour as well as some pathos.
The idea of recreating an accademia musicale (private concert) at the home of Roman artist/patron Pier Leone Ghezzi in 1723 and putting on works that might have been played at such an event is an intriguing one. Add to that that we were promised caricatures; Ghezzi being a noted pioneer of the form. Marco Cera, who conceived the show, seemed to be onto a good thing.
What we actually got wasn’t exactly what I expected. There were the musicians, including noted baroque soprano Roberta Invernizzi, impersonating Ghezzi’s guests; from Vivaldi to Farinelli, with Cera himself as Ghezzi. But there was also Ghezzi’s servant, played as Harlequin, acted by Dino Gonçalves. The show was heavy on Harlequin’s cheeky chappy clowning which was, as the lemur put it, like “watching Jerry Lewis channelling Roger Rabbit”. Not really my thing.