As previously revealed the line up for last night’s Centre Stage; the COC’s gala competition cum Ensemble Studio final audition featured four mezzos, two sopranos and two baritones. Not a tenor to be had. As was the case two years ago the competition was split into two parts; a late afternoon session for an invited audience and an early evening public session separated by a cocktail reception. Each singer presented one aria in each session. Accompaniment was provided by the COC Orchestra with music director Johannes Debus.
So we now know who will be singing at Centre Stage, the COC’s gala competition for aspiring young singers with both cash prizes and places in the Ensemble Studio up for grabs. There are, I think, only two that I’m at all familiar with; soprano Eliza Johnson who was a finalist last year and baritone Zachary Read who was a rather good Sid in UoT Opera’s Albert Herring a couple of years ago. The other six are mezzo-sopranos Emily D’Angelo, Lauren Eberwein, Marjorie Maltais and Pascale Spinney, soprano Samantha Pickett and baritone Bruno Roy. Wow! Four mezzos so the mezzo mafia will likely be ecstatic. No tenors but with four already in the Ensemble Studio that’s probably a good thing. Centre Stage is on November 3rd at 5.30pm at the Four Seasons Centre with a cocktails (well wine mostly) and rather good snacks before the competition itself. Tickets are $100 from the COC box office or coc.ca.
It was quite a party at the MacMillan Theatre this afternoon. The MacMillan opened fifty years ago with a production of Britten’s Albert Herring and this afternoon marked the final performance of a new production to celebrate the occasion. Directed by Joel Ivany, it was a straightforward but lively and very well characterised interpretation that brought out many of the very specific and quirky elements of the local culture while taking it mysteriously up market in some ways. (*). Coupled with very good singing by any standard, and this was a student production, it made for a most enjoyable afternoon.
Last night I attended Soup Can Theatre’s double bill of Barber’s A Hand of Bridge followed by Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit; an English translation by Stuart Gilbert, of his 1944 play Huis Clos. The latter is a piece I’ve seen before and read in both English and French and I would never have imagined it could be presented as it was last night. It’s a play about three people who find themselves in a room in Hell together. They will be there for eternity, an eternal triangle I suppose, for they have been especially selected to get on each others’ nerves by continually reminding each character of that aspect of their former lives that they find least admirable. I have always seen it as an incredibly bleak play as befits one that premiered in Paris in the last months of the German occupation. I would never have imagined it as a comedy; albeit a dark one, but that’s what director Sarah Thorpe gave us. Continue reading