A Northern Lights Dream

A Northern Lights Dream is a new operetta by Michael Rose which premiered this last week at Toronto Operetta Theatre in a production directed by Guillermo Silva-Marin.  A new operetta is a very rare thing.  It;’s just not a form that contemporary composers seem to take to.  There’s far too much spoken dialogue for an opera but the musical language; mostly tonal, often quite beautiful but not afraid to get more abrasive when appropriate, is much closer to that of contemporary opera than musical theatre.  So an operetta it is.

aurora

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The nightingale flies from its gilded cage

nightingale1Florence: The Lady with the Lamp, music by Timothy Sullivan, libretto by Anne Mcpherson, premiered at the Elora Festival in 1992 and n 1995 was the first Canadian work performed by VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert.  Yesterday afternoon they presented it again at the St. Lawrence Centre; staged and with orchestra.

It’s an interesting piece.  Some of it I liked a lot and some not so much.  The orchestral writing is excellent; colourful and atmospheric with some jazz influences.  I quite often found myself drifting off into listening to the orchestra when perhaps I should have paid more attention to the words, especially as there were no surtitles.  The vocal writing is less interesting but it had its moments especially in some of the ensembles.  It’s the old dilemma of whether or not to prioritise the comprehensibility of the words over strictly musical values. Continue reading