Collectìf’s latest show for the Toronto Summer Music Festival at Walter Hall last night was called Beyond Perception: What Haunts Us Now. It presented three new multimedia works each curated and directed by one of the trio of singers. The first piece, by Whitney O’Hearne featured arrangements of French works; both folk and classical that deal with the idea of La Dame Blanche; by turns sorceress or virgin bride. Turning the idea of male defined female transgression upside down to celebrate women’s agency, O’Hearn combined arrangements of the chosen music for combinations of three voices and piano with soft focus atmospheric video rather reminiscent of Collectìf’s Winterreise show at Heliconian Hall. The singing was beautiful and the concept intriguing. Top notch accompaniment by Trevor Chartrand.
Danika Lorèn and co. aka Collectìf were back today with a lunctime show in the RBA. Like their previous shows this was a themed, more or less staged, series of art songs. This program was inspired by Verlaine’s Fêtes galantes and featured all French texts set by a range of composers. Most of it was pretty typical chansons of the fin de siècle; material I find pleasant enough but not especially compelling. The surprise, and a very welcome one, was four pieces by Reynaldo Hahn setting texts by Charles, duc d’Orléans and Faullin de Banville. Here Hahn turned his flair for vocal and pianistic colour to great effect producing pieces strangely evocative of the Renaissance. Fancifully perhaps, I could imagine these being sung at the court of Philip the Good (assuming of course that he had a piano…)
On the face of it the idea of reorganising Schubert’s Winterreise for three female voices and staging it as a kind of allegory isn’t an obvious one but Collectìf’s As a Stranger worked remarkably well. The arrangement and distribution of the numbers was judicious; most of the songs went to a single singer, some were split and occasional and effective use was made of two or three voices in unison. The idea behind the split being to make mezzo Whitney O’Hearne the narrator/traveller while sopranos Jennifer Krabbe and Danika Lorèn embodied the malign and benign aspects/characters of the story. Heliconian Hall doesn’t offer a lot in the way of staging possibilities but well thought out costumes, a few props and a considerable, and quite sophisticated, video element added up to a pretty satisfying experience. In the last number Jennifer relieved Tom King at the piano to allow the Leierman to stagger off into the wintry night. All well thought out and well executed.
It’s getting a bit busier again. This afternoon there are a couple of concerts. At 2pm in Mazzoleni Hall you can catch Mireille Asselin and Brett Polegato with Peter Tiefenbach and Rachel Andrist in a painting themed program of lieder, artsongs and chansons called Le travail du peintre. At 4.30pm at Metropolitan United Church Bach’s Mass in B Minor meets German film maker Bastian Clevé’s film The Sound of Eternity. The soloists are Marjorie Maltais, Geoff Sirett, Jennifer Krabbe and Charles Sy plus the Orpheus Choir, Chorus Niagara and the Talisker Players. I suppose it would just about be possible to do both…
There was something about Collectìf’s cabaret show, Do Over, last night that reminded me of a folk club in the 70s or 80s (as in when I was their age!). It was in a pub. The room was full of young(ish) people. It was loud. It was irreverent. And people were having fun. Shocking! An opera related event that was irreverent and fun. No solemn “palaces of culture” here. No AMOP style “in my day” grumbling. Just three rather good singers, a pianist and a thoroughly eclectic, not to say at times filthy (there were more double entendres than an eight hour episode of The Two Ronnies), selection of music drawn from four and a half centuries. The AMOP crowd should probably prohibit their daughters and servants from seeing this show.
Le Rossignol et la Rose is Collectif’s first show. It’s another take on how to make art song more interesting and attract a new audience. The formula this time is to stage a series of songs with an implied linking narrative in a funky space. It worked pretty well. The B Lounge is a basement lounge/club next door to a boxing gym. It’s scruffy but comfortable with enough space for performance in and around the audience. There’s a bar.
Great idea. Create a sort of spooky, short opera program in a funky location and use it as a fundraiser for your next major project. That was Darknet at Mây last night. Jennifer Krabbe, singing Berlioz, rounded us up in the bar and ushered us downstairs into an installation created by Alessia Naccarato and Noah Grove. It was dark. It was eerie. We were offered masks. Cairan Ryan sang The Cold Song from Purcell’s King Arthur while writhing on the floor. Jonathan MacArthur sort of emerged from some sort of primeval goo singing Aria by John Cage and Beth Hagerman gave us one of Lulu’s arias. Then we were rounded up and ejected into the light again. Loved it.