Homage to Viardot

Yesterday the Ensemble Studio put on a really nicely curated tribute to Pauline Viardot.  Viardot was a singer, pianist, composer and muse who was enormously influential in music circles in paris in the middle years of the 19th century.  She came from a famous musical family and was the younger sister of Maria Malibran. Her own work is little performed today although the Royal Conservatory did her Cendrillon in 2016.

midori

Continue reading

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