There’s an interesting new project on Youtube from Natalya Gennadi and Catherine Carew. It’s called HBD! Project and the idea is to produce a short themed video each month featuring composers whose birthdays fall in that month. The February pilot is online and it’s a bit different from other “shows” in similar vein that I’ve come across. This one features a song by Alban Berg sung by Natalya with a fluffy puppy, music for cello and piano by Jean Coulthard played by Alice Kim and Hye Won Cecilia Lee and Rodney Sharman’s Tobacco Road sung by Catherine. So what’s new you ask (apart from the puppy)? It’s the graphics with Mozart in a party hat, animated Emily Carr paintings and a look for the Sharman that could double as the witches’ scene in Macbeth. Yes it’s a bit weird but oddly compelling.
Like everything else the 2020 Rubies, Opera Canada‘s awards show, is going virtual this year. It’s going out as a video, produced by Taylor Long of the COC, which will premier at 8pm on November 23rd. Joyce El-Khoury hosts and Ben Heppner narrates the honouree videos, and then Barbara Hannigan, Michael Schade and Yannick Nezet-Seguin contribute ‘acceptance’ speeches. Plus there’s a tribute to this year’s posthumous honouree, tenor Edward Johnson. There are also performances by Russell Braun, Rihab Chaieb, Midori Marsh and Matt Cairns recorded in the studio with pianist and singer co-located. The show will be shown via OC’s Youtube channel.
There’s much more about the honourees and their careers on the Opera Canada website:
Back in the summer Opera Canada asked a number of us to right a piece on our local opera scene and what was happening there that went beyond rewriting companies’ season announcements and updates. So in July I interviewed the leadership of seven local companies ranging from the COC to Opera 5 (thanks to all the lovely people who gave me their time). That article appeared in print in the most recent Opera Canada magazine. It’s now available on the website. Bear in mind that it was written back in August and that some things have happened since then. Nonetheless I was pleased to be able to offer up what I think was asked for, which was something reasonably analytical and strategic.
The latest issue of Opera Canada arrived in my mailbox yesterday. It’s the first issue produced by Gianmarco Segato as editor and there are a few noticeable changes. The general structure and look is the same but there are some new bylines. I noticed Sara Schabas has a rather good piece on Marie Clements. I’d bet a fiver that Sara is the youngest contributor to the mag in a while. There’s also an article by Dean Burry on the Canadian Children’s Opera Company tour of Brundibár to the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary including a trip to Terezín. The obituaries include, sadly, Émile Belcourt who I saw sing Loge at ENO back in the 70s in the memorable run of The Rhinegold conducted by Reginald Goodall.
There’s lots more including my contributions; a piece profiling Marion Newman, plus reviews of a live performance, a CD and a DVD. And finally, there’s mention that Alexander Neef saw Gerry Finley in Reimann’s Lear in Salzburg. He couldn’t could he? No he couldn’t. Does to dunk head in cold water…
Opera Canada magazine, to which I’m a contributor, has a new Editorial Director. Gianmarco Segato, formerly with the COC, is taking over from Wayne Gooding who has been doing the job for an amazing 20 years. I think it’s a great choice. Anyhow, one of the goals going forward for OC is to build it’s on-line presence. That’s a long term project but there are things on social media that one can check out already. They are:
This review first appeared in the print edition of Opera Canada.
This new CD of music by James Rolfe on the Centrediscs label contains three works for voices and a small “early instruments” ensemble. Two; Europa and Aeneas and Dido, were written as companion pieces for Toronto Masque Theatre performances of the similarly titled works by Pignolet de Montéclair and Purcell. The third, Breathe, was written for Trio Mediaeval and the Toronto Consort.
Breathe is a setting of words by Anna Chatterton and Hildegard of Bingen on the theme of the four elements. It feels quite meditative with high voices (Suzie LeBlanc, Katherine Hill and Laura Pudwell) weaving patterns with the band. It’s rhythmically inventive, almost jazzy in places but always quite ethereal.