Synesthesia IV

pink-logo-cutThis Saturday FAWN Chamber Creative are presenting the first part of Synesthesia IV.  Yesterday I sat down with artistic director Amanda Smith and singer Jonathan MacArthur to find out what it’s all about.  It’s basically a building block in a longer term project to create a contemporary ballet lyrique.  Now normally, for me, this term summons up the ghost of Lully and has me running for the hills humming “diddly, diddly; diddly, twiddly” but Amanda explained that they were using it as shorthand for an extended piece combining vocal music and dance so I calmed down.  Now one thing I’ve noticed about FAWN is that they don’t rush works to market.  There’s usually an extensive process of workshopping and refining.  This ballet lyrique project seems to take that one step further and Synesthesia is a first step along the way. Continue reading

Barefoot Messiah

Against the Grain Theatre revived their 2013 choreographed Messiah last night Harbourfront Centre.  It’s quite heavily reworked from the 2013 edition and I think the changes are an improvement.  The creative team of Topher Mokrzewski (Music), Joel Ivany (Stage direction) and Jenn Nichols (choreography) remains the same as does the overall “look and feel”.  The soloists are supported here by a 16 strong chorus and 18 instrumentalists.

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Some upcoming events

There a few things coming up in Toronto over the next week or two that might be worth a look.

segalgleadowTomorrow at noon in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre Lauren Segal and Robert Gleadow accompanied by Sandra Horst are giving a free concert featuring  Dvořák’s Gypsy Songs, de Falla’s Siete canciones populares Españolas, Ibert’s Chansons de Don Quichotte and Vaughan Williams’ Songs of Travel.

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AtG’s Messiah

Expectations could hardly have been higher for last night’s first performance of Against the Grain’s new production of Handel’s Messiah.  By and large they were met.  It’s become quite the thing to stage Handel’s oratorios and, for the most part, that’s fine.  They are really operas in disguise and work well when liberated from the concert setting.  Messiah is trickier.  Rather than a linear narrative there are a series of Biblical texts selected by librettist Charles Jennens to promote a literal and conservative evangelical Christianity.  There is no obvious staging solution.  One possibility is to invent a narrative and spin the story around it as Claus Guth did at Theater an der Wien in 2009.  AtG’s Joel Ivany’s solution is to stage it as a choreographed performance and use movement to bring depth to the words.  Here he is aided and abetted by choreographer Jennifer Nichols who has created a movement language tailored to the abilities and limitations of the singers.

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