The Dora winners were announced last night. I don’t think there were any big surprises in the opera category. The COC’s Rusalka scooped most awards with four including Outstanding Production. The other three were Outstanding Direction (David McVicar), Outstanding Musical Direction (Johannes Debus) and Outstanding Achievement in Design (Lighting) (David Finn). It was probably the best thing overall the COC has done in a long time so not shocked.
Yvette Nolan and Dean Burry won the Outstanding New Opera category for Shanawdithit. I’m delighted about this one as I had rather more personal emotional investment in this project than most things I see and it was an important project in so many ways. Marnie Breckenridge received the Dora for Outstanding Performance by an Individual for her performance in Jacqueline. Also well deserved and a wee but surprising as there was every reason to give this one to Sondra Radvanovsky and usually that kind of name recognition wins out. In any event two big wins for Tapestry (and a nod to Opera on the Avalon for being a smaller regional company prepared to invest in something relevant).
Finally, Soundstreams presentation of Two Odysseys: Pimooteewin / Gállábártnit won Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble. In this case Nicole Joy-Fraser, Karen
Weigold, Vania Chan, Deantha Edmunds, Jennifer Taverner, Rebecca Cuddy, Bó Bárdos, Michelle Lafferty, Jonathan MacArthur, Mitchell Pady, Evan Korbut, Bryan Martin and Neil Aronof. This was another fascinating show that deserved some recognition.
So, yes, the eight hundred pound gorilla came out on top but hardly by a knock out.
The Dora award nominations are in. The most interesting thing is that the COC doesn’t dominate the Opera category this year. In fact Tapestry has most nominations with thirteen. In general, it was really nice to see new “committed” opera dominating the list rather than the usual stuff. Indigenous themes did very well too which is very pleasing. Loads of nominations for Shanawdithit, including Best Performer in a Leading Role for Marion Newman, which pleases me greatly. Good to see FAWN’s Pandora and Soundstreams’ Two Odysseys: Pimooteewin / Gállábártnit featuring along with LooseTea’s Singing Only Softly/The Diary of Anne Frank: Operas from the Secret Annex. There was one surprise in the list of COC nominations. I’m actually quite shocked that Speranza Sperucci didn’t get nominated for her conducting of Barber of Seville; a really remarkable performance. And one non-surprise; multiple nominations for Rusalka which might just be the best thing the COC have done in quite a while.
So now we can all speculate on who the eventual winners will be.
Those clever folks at Tapestry have just announced a “cancellation proof” 2020/21 season. Basically it’s set up so that shows can be given for a live audience or as a webstream or some hybrid solution as circumstances evolve.
Soundstreams have announced their 2020/21 season and hopefully we will get to see some of it! As ever there’s loads of good stuff starting with Steve Reich being in Toronto for his 85th birthday in April 2021. Other stuff that gets me excited includes:
Huang Ruo’s The Book of Mountain and Seas as part of 21C at Koerner in January 2021. This features the vocal ensemble Ars Nova Copenhagen and puppets!
Chan Ka Nin’s A Dragon’s Tale. It’s a co-pro with Tapestry and promises a waterfront extravaganza of western and eastern musical traditions. That’s coming in June next year.
May 2021 sees a line up of Toronto’s finest performing works by Claude Vivier plus a new commission from Christopher Mayo. That’s going to be in the very intimate Temerty Theatre at the RCM
Plus Electric Messiah, Encounters and more. Full details here.
If you missed the livestream of Tapestry Songbook X it’s on again tonight. And it appears there is going to be a virtual party. Here’s what’s up…. (according to Tapestry):
Two weeks ago, we livestreamed Songbook X, a concert featuring Krisztina Szabó, mezzo-soprano, and Chris Foley, collaborative pianist. This reimagined concert united us in community at a time when we needed it most. We heard from folks who had a candle-light dinner as they watched and others who recognized friends in the livechat who they hadn’t heard from in a while. Join us for the show and get social! Invite a friend, plan your snacks and drinks, and join us for a night of beautiful piano and vocal music.
To attend, click here and select ‘Get Reminder’ – the streaming party will start on Facebook this Saturday at 8PM EST/5PM PST.
Be well, and see you online!
Concert Programme – Songbook X Livestream
7:00pm – Chill your refreshments
7:15pm – Break out the snacks
7:30pm – Home system sound check (make sure your speakers work!)
7:45pm – Start your video chat party
7:50pm – Pour libations
7:55pm – Pre-show toast with Artistic Director Michael Mori…everybody raise your glasses!
8:00pm – Concert time!
If you want to know what to expect you could always read my review.
Yesterday I received seven assorted emails about cancellations in Toronto plus news from the Metropolitan Opera. Essentially all the major orchestras and music theatre organisations in Toronto are shuttered until at least the end of the month. Events are also being called off elsewhere so check your location situation. Here’s a quick run down:
The Four Seasons Centre is closed until the end of the first week of April. So, the ballet is off, as is the free concert series. The COC is still planning to run its spring season but we’ll see.
Tafelmusik and the TSO have cancelled performances until the end of the month.
After tomorrow the UoT and the Conservatory are cancelling public events until the end of the month.
Tapestry Songbook on March 21st is sort of cancelled. There will be no live audience but the show will be live streamed at 8pm and the performers are being paid. Go Tapestry!
Amici Chamber Ensemble’s show on the 29th is off.
The Metropolitan Opera is closed so no Live in HD but they are doing free nightly web casts of the HD back catalogue. Details here.
March is looking a bit thin right now. Both UoT Opera and the Glenn Gould School have shows though. From the 12th to the 15th in the MacMilan Theatre (7.30pm, Sunday 2.30pm) the university is doing Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park in a production by Tim Albery. I’m not familiar with this work but generally I’ve been very impressed with Dove’s vocal music. Casting etc is here. On the 18th and 20th the GGS is putting on Ravel’s L’heure espagnole and Puccini’s Suor Angelica which is certainly an unusual pairing. The double bill plays at Koerner Hall at 7.30pm. Casting and creative team details are here. UoT also have a show on the 27th at 5pm in Walter Hall called Parlami d’Amore. In non university gigs, Tapestry Songbook X is at the Ernest Balmer Studio on the 20th at 8pm.
In free events there are a couple of noon hour concerts in the RBA. On the 17th the Ensemble Studio have a March Break “Opera for All Ages” concert and on the 31st transgender soprano Brianna Sinclair is appearing. And of course there’s Opera Pub in its usual time and place on the 5th.
Jacqueline is a new opera by librettist Royce Vavrek and composer Luna Pearl Woolf. It will premiere at Tapestry next month. It deals with the life and career of cellist Jacqueline du Pré. Du Pré was a celebrity in her own life time. She made her Wigmore Hall debut at age 16 in 1961 and quickly established herself as one of the all time greatest exponents of her instrument with a rather special relationship with the Elgar concerto. Marriage to Daniel Barenboim, conversion to Judaism and “membership” in the rather remarkable circle of musical Jews in New York followed. Her physical ability to play the cello though began to decline in 1971 and a formal diagnosis of multiple sclerosis was made in 1973. She lived for another 14 years but never played again in public.
Last night marked the last performance I plan on seeing before the holidays so it’s time for the annual “best of” posting. So what did your scribe enjoy or admire the most in 2019? Let’s look at it by categories.
Fully staged opera with orchestra
The COC had a decent year but two of their shows stood out for me. David McVicar’s production of Rusalka in October was perhaps all round the best thing the COC have done in years. The production was clever in that interrogated the material enough to ask lots of questions for those willing to think about them without doing anything to upset those not so interested. Musically one really can’t imagine hearing Rusalka sung or played better anywhere in the world. The other winner was Elektra in January. The orchestra and the singing was the winner here, especially Christine Goerke, but the production was better than average and we don’t see enough of the great modern classics in the Four Seasons stage.