A version of Chekhov’s Three Sisters opened last night in a collaboration between Hart House Theatre and the Howland Company. It’s described as “Adapted and directed by Paolo Santalucia after Chekhov” . What this means is that is given a contemporary Canadian setting with changed character names and so forth. The structural purpose of each scene, pretty much each speech, remains the same but the words are not a literal translation. And, Alex Vershinin is a woman lieutenant colonel in the RCAF which gives a very different spin to her “affair” with Masha.
How far will people go in the effort to survive? How can they preserve some sense of self respect and dignity in that survival? I think these are the questions underlying George F. Walker’s play Orphans for the Czar which had its world premier last night at Crow’s Theatre in a production directed by Tanja Jacobs.
Last night was the one of only two chances to see Bicycle Opera Project in Toronto this year. (The other is tonight). It was a show in collaboration with Toy Piano Composers’ Collective called Travelogue and featuring four new works around the broad them of travel. The show was run without an interval but with each composer introducing their own work by reading, e.g., post cards from their travels or, hilariously, in the case of the absent Tobin Stokes, recordings of the voicemails he left apologising for not having finished the piece yet. Staging was, in the BOP way, minimalist but effective.
Last night’s late, late concert at the Conservatory was basically a preview of Bicycle Opera Project’s 2015 season. It’s a bit hard to say what the final show will be like as we got mainly excerpts last night and it just feels really different to be in a formal concert hall compared with the usual venues for BOP.
The 2003 Royal Opera House recording of Die Zauberflöte has a terrific cast and it has Sir Colin Davis conducting. The production is by David McVicar and it’s one of those that make one wonder how he ever got a “bad boy” reputation. It’s perfectly straightforward though rather dark (emotionally and physically) and has a vaguely 18th century vibe. In places it seems a bit minimalist, as if the director couldn’t really be bothered with things like the Trials. The interview material rather suggests that McVicar was a bit overawed by doing Mozart with the great Sir Colin and tried very hard to match his rather old fashioned theatrical sensibilities.
It may still be 90%+ humidity and hot as hell in Toronto but the signs of things to come are piling up. I have a stack of tickets for fall events at various venues and the smaller opera groups are starting to announce their seasons.
The latest news is from Opera 5 who are launching the year with a Hollywood Glam Gala at Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu. It’s a fundraiser with an “Opera in Hollywood” theme. Performers will include Teiya Kasahara (probably not with the butch lesbian routine), Elizabeth MacDonald, Graham Thompson, and the increasingly visible Geoffrey Sirett among others. Toronto photographer, Emily Ding will be on hand for Hollywood glam photos with food and alcohol provided by Fionn MacCool’s, notorious hangout of the COC Chorus.
Last night the Talisker Players and guest artists presented a series of readings and vocal pieces on the theme of winged creatures. It was a very varied programme with the readings, winningly read by actor R.H. Thomson, ranging from Albert Manguel to Peter Matthiessen. The readings also provided time for the set-up to be changed between numbers with minimum tedium.
The music was also very varied, ranging from Telemann to John Plant’s Sandpiper of 2011 with the rest being drawn from 20th century works from Pärt, Copland, Hoiby, Gideon and Foss. The ensemble changed constantly with various combinations of strings, woodwind, piano, continuo and percussion. Continue reading →