IRCPA Singing Stars

The concluding concert of this year’s International Centre for Performing Artists Singing Stars program for this year took place last night at 96.3FM.  For the eleven singers it was the culmination of a day working with Adrianne Pieczonka and a lot of practice and I think that came through on the night.  In the various interviews during the show (it was being broadcast live), many of the singers remarked on Adrianne’s advice to be an artist, not just a singer (or something to that effect).  Certainly I felt there was less strictly correct singing and more effort to get inside the music and words than one often hears in  competitions.

sarasinging

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In a handbag?

One probably can’t go far wrong with an adaptation of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and the operetta, Earnest,The Importance of Being by Victor Davies and Eugene Benson doesn’t.  In fact it doesn’t go far from Wilde at all following the plot of the original faithfully and containing all the well known lines.  It means too, of course, that it has the flaws as well as the virtues of the original.  The first act can drag a bit as Wilde gets a bit too clever but t builds to a very effective second half which flies by.  The duet for the girls, To Speak With Perfect Candour is probably the best number in the piece.  Davies’ music too does not try to be too portentous.  It’s a bit of a pot pourri of styles with, at least, big band music, classical operetta, popular song of the period and what seems to be a nod to Andrew Lloyd-Webber.  It’s perfectly consistent with the text.  I don’t think though that there’s a single number that one would call truly hummable.

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Toronto Operetta Theatre and Toronto Masque Theatre 14/15

handbagToronto Operetta Theatre and Toronto Masque Theatre have announced their respective 2014/15 season line ups.  TOT will present three shows.  The first is a zarzuela; Federico Chueca’s La gran via.  Jose Hernandez conducts and the cast includes Margie Bernal, Fabian Arciniegas, Pablo Benitez and Diego Catala. There’s one performance on November 2nd.  The Christmas show will be Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado.  Singers include Lucia Cesaroni, Mia Lennox, David Ludwig and Giles Tomkins with Derek Bate conducting.  There are six performances scheduled between December 27th and January 4th.  Finally, and perhaps most exciting, is a revival of Victor Davies’ 2008 piece Ernest, the Importance of Being.  It’s based on the Wilde play and will star Jean Stilwell as Lady Bracknell.  Larry Beckwith conducts.  There will be four performances on April 29th and May 1st to 3rd.  All three shows will be directed by Guillermo Silva-Marin and will be staged at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. (www.stlc.com)

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Amici Ensemble – Season close and new season announcement

Yesterday I attended the final concert of the 2011/12 season of the Amici Ensemble at the Glenn Gould Studio courtesy of Executive Director Lizzie Bowman.

It was my first time at the Glenn Gould and I was impressed by the space.  It’s pretty much ideal for chamber music.  They also have Glenn Gould’s childhood piano on display which is another addition to Toronto’s collection of secular relics.  There is a book or thesis at least in that topic.

The concert was a varied mix of pieces from the first third of the 20th century.  That’s pretty much a sweet spot for me as it’s pretty much where I discovered classical music.  My first classical LP purchase was of the Janáček string quartets.  Some of the music I was very familiar with.  Some was quite unknown to me.  Also, the ensemble was different for each piece.  It made for an interesting afternoon.  Continue reading