Cendrillon in Viardot’s salon

The Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music opened a two performance run of Viardot’s Cendrillon last night at Mazzoleni Hall.  The conceit was that we and the performers were all guests in Mme, Viardot’s salon and to this end we were all given a slip of paper with our character name on it but I promptly lost mine and it wasn’t actually needed for anything,  Cute idea though.  It also allowed for a production that fitted with the acutely limited staging resources of Mazzoleni.  The piece is heavy on dialogue and it was presented in English, in an updated translation that had its moments.  I doubt the Viardot household had ever heard of “organic, non GMO, fair trade” coffee.

Photo: Nicola Betts

Continue reading

Viardot’s Cendrillon

330px-salon_of_pauline_viardot_-_gallicaPauline Viardot is one of those names that crops up quite a bit when one is researching the opera of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  She was a mezzo-soprano of some note, friend (at the least) of both Turgenev and Chopin, hosted a notable Parisian salon and composed; though, being female, she was not taken entirely seriously by the musical establishment of the time.  Among her compositions is a “chamber operetta”, Cendrillon, designed for performance at her salon and written when Viardot was already in her eighties.  It’s going to be performed again this fall in Mazzoleni Hall at the Royal Conservatory and I sat down yesterday with director Joel Ivany to talk about the issues involved in staging such an unusual piece in a venue that’s not entirely opera friendly.

Continue reading

Embroidered by blind nuns in Tuscany

Encounters was a one hour programme of short opera scenes by student composers to libretti by Michael Albano.  It’s the latest in a series of fully staged shows by student composers from the UoT Faculty of Music’s composition programme which has been running since 1997 and has included, for example Rob Ford, the opera.  It’s quite shocking that when that showed two years ago, as Dean Don McLean reminded us, the big Rob Ford story was about library closures.  Anyway, only one of yesterday’s five pieces featured Mr. Ford.

Continue reading