Songs From the House of Death is a new song cycle for mezzo-soprano and orchestra by Ian Cusson. It was premiered in April by Krisztina Szabó and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. It’s a setting of three texts from Joy Harjo‘s How We Became Human. Ian has a knack of finding really strong texts by Indigenous poets and these are no exception. The longest (13 minutes of the 23 minute work) is “Songs From the House of Death; Or How to Make it Through the End of a Relationship”. This is an evocation of death and impermanence and memory. The setting is very varied. The opening pizzicato strings are barely audible but it rapidly builds to blend densely orchestrated (it’s a big orchestra) and very high energy music with much gentler and more lyrical passages; sometimes using the concert master as a soloist. This fits the changing moods of the text and, as I’ve come to expect with Ian, the music is always rooted in the text.
The latest commission from the Canadian Art Song Project is Another Day by Abigail Richardson-Schulte. It’s a setting of six poems by schoolchildren on the theme of refugees and human rights. It’s now available on video performed by soprano Anna-Sophie Neher with Carl Matthieu Neher at the piano.
In Winter is the latest digital offering from the COC and is available free until June. Described by the COC as a concert that “explores and celebrates winter” it’s more a Eurocentric potpourri of seasonal fare with a decidedly Christmas twist. It’s a cut above “Christmas’ Greatest Hits” though a John Rutter arrangement of Deck the Halls and I’ll be Home for Christmas are in that vein and even the exuberance and lovely voice of Midori Marsh can’t make more of The Twelve Days of Christmas than is there to be had.
Toronto Operetta Theatre’s latest offering is a webstream of Emmerich Kálmán’s 1915 operetta The Csárdás Princess (Die Csárdásfürstin) presented here in English with the usual minor tweaks to the dialogue including obligatory Rob Ford jokes, which have become something of a TOT tradition. The plot turns on the fact that an Austro-Hungarian aristo, let alone a second cousin of the Emperor, can’t marry someone with fewer than 64 quarterings on their coat of arms, let alone a cabaret singer. Implausible impersonations etc abound and love triumphs in the end. It’s all entirely harmless for heaven forfend that anything satirical might have made it past the Vienna censorship, especially in wartime. And there’s no sex because this isn’t France. The humour mostly turns on Hungarian antipathy for their Austrian masters. It’s light hearted and very tuneful fun.
Against the Grain Theatre have released a location shot film of Holst’s Sāvitri on Youtube. It’s a very beautiful film with some fine music making but I really wonder why anyone would choose to lavish their talents on this particular opera.
Opera Atelier’s webstream of Handel’s The Resurrection premiered on Thursday evening and will be available until this coming Thursday. It’s ticketed and you can buy an access code from the RCM box office. It’s the first Opera Atelier show conceived for webstreaming as opposed to filming a stage performance. The action was filmed in St. Lawrence Hall and the music was recorded at Koerner.
The Glenn Gould School released their spring opera performance on the new Koerner livestream platform on Thursday night. It’s a concert performance of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. This is a piece I find hugely problematic but since I went into considerable detail about why in a review of an MYOpera production that I wrote exactly five years ago I won’t repeat myself. Let’s just look at what the GGS did with it.
Where Do I Go? is the latest on-line offering from Tapestry Opera. It’s an eight minute film followed by ten minutes or so of cast interviews. The concept originates with the multi-talented Morgan Paige-Melbourne who wrote the music and words, plays piano, sings, speaks and dances on the film. She’s supported by dancer Natasha Poon-Woo and percussionist Adam Kaleta. Michael Mori directs.
I’m late to the party on this one. I had set aside time on Sunday to watch Russell Braun, Carolyn Maule and Miriam Khalil’s recital from Koerner Hall (one of the Mazzoleni Songmasters series) when first broadcast. For whatever reason I couldn’t get it to mirror onto the big screen in a watchable way so I ended up watching it on my laptop yesterday. So it goes.