Around the tubes

Once more the week’s Youtube offerings show that digital works best when it’s “made for digital”.  Who’d a thunk it eh!  Anyway there’s very watchable new content on Youtube from Alexander Hajek, Opera Revue and Domoney Artists.  Best of all though is a new short film called Sempra Libera from Carsen Gilmore and the very good soprano Michelle Drever.  If you like the look and feel of Morte you’ll love this.  It’s really dark.  It’s the grimmest take on Violetta I’ve seen; Natalie Dessay included!

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Another pandemic

yiddishglorypandemicBack in 2018 I wrote about the Yiddish Glory project including a concert at Koerner Hall and a CD.  Well, Anna Shternshis and her team are back with more music from the ghettos, in particular Pechora Camp in Transnistria.  This time it’s themed around the typhus epidemic of 1941/2 and the impact it had on the camp’s inmates.  The music and accompanying narrative feature in a short but interesting Youtube video.  There’s dark humour here especially in the song I’m a Typhus Louse which personifies the disease in a way that’s curiously similar to Spitting Image‘s portrayal of COVID.  Like most Holocaust related material it’s not easy to watch but it’s a compelling story with interesting music which is beautifully and wittily performed.  The filming is rather good too and the technical quality is excellent.  All the performers are fully credited on the video so I’ll not duplicate that information here.

On-line roundup

Music-for-Self-Isolation_Horvat-620x670Ontario’s state of emergency seems to have slowed the production of on-line content to a trickle.  The only new things I’ve seen recently are from the ever reliable Opera Revue and Alexander Hajek.

Opera Revue’s eighth isolation production features five pieces from Frank Horvat’s Music for Self Isolation; a set of thirty one short pieces for one or two musicians written last spring.  The concert features the five pieces with a vocal part.  I have to say I liked the texts; taken from various sources, more than the music.  The music is sort of “singer sonwriterish”; simple, tonal, melodic, a bit repetitive.  It’s fine of its type but it’s not my bag.  Performances by various combos of sopranos Emily Ding and Dani Friesen, pianist Claire Harris and guitarist Michael McKenzie are very nice though and the recording; despite being done via Zoom, is perfectly acceptable.  The music may not be entirely my thing but I’m delighted that someone is doing projects like this.  You can find it on Opera Revue’s channel on Youtube.

Alex Hajek’s contribution is another intriguing Toronto based film this time featuring Der Doppelgänger from Scubert’s Schwanengesang.  It’s beautiful to look at and beautiful to listen to and, again, featurers Claire Harris on piano as well as Alex’ lovely baritone.  This one’s on Youtube too.  The channel is Alexander Hajek.

Tapestry announces winter line up

Morgan-Paige Melbourne. Photo by Ian ChangOver the next few months Tapestry will be offering three new shows recorded in the Ernest Balmer Studio and streamed via Youtube.  The line up is:

  • A Joke Before the Gallows: Pianist Adam Sherkin performs a musical story celebrating the dramatic music of Chopin, directed by Tom Diamond, with text by David James Brock, in co-production with The Piano Lunaire.  That premiers on January 30th.
  • Our Song D’Hiver: Soprano Mireille Asselin explores her connection to the shared and unique elements of English-speaking and French-speaking culture.  Premiers February 27th.
  • Where Do I Go?: Pianist Morgan-Paige Melbourne offers up a unique multidisciplinary performance combining piano with dance.  That goes live on March 27th.

Photo credit: Ian Chang

Electric Messiah 2020

The sixth iteration of Soundstreams’ Electric Messiah unsurprisingly morphed from a live show in the intimate setting of the Drake Underground to a streamed video recorded on location in various places in Toronto.  There is much that was the same as previously and some interesting differences.  The selection of arias and choruses is very similar to previous years starting with “Comfort Ye”; arranged for all four singers and finishing up with “Hallelujah”.

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Songs of Hope

On Thursday evening the members of COC’s Ensemble Studio collaborated to create an on-line concert called Songs of Hope.  All the current Ensemble members plus Liz Upchurch took part in an extremely eclectic programme MC’d by Simone Osborne.  There was “classic” art song with Jamie Groote singing Britten’s arrangement of Burns’ Highland Balou.  Joel Allison sang Silent Noon by Vaughan Williams; a test piece for any Anglo baritone inviting comparison with the likes of Thomas Allen and Bryn Terfel.  He passes the test in my book.  Very fine singing indeed.  Vartan Gabrielan gave us a rare chance to hear a genuine bass singing Schubert; in this case Ständchen.  The different timbre is an interesting and welcome change.

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More Youtube discoveries

rohThe Royal Opera House Covent Garden has started posting very high quality full length opera and ballet videos on its Youtube channel.  So far there’s the 2012 production of Britten’s Gloriana, a 2010 Così fan tutte which, as far as I can tell, is not available on DVD and Handel’s Acis and Galatea directed and choreographed by Wayne McGregor which is definitely worth a look.  There’s also several ballet productions.

Oper Frankfurt has also been posting Lieder recitals “zu Hause” though so far none of their contingent of Canadians has featured.

The Confession Stone

I wanted to listen to Robert Fleming’s song cycle The Confession Stone today but I didn’t appear to have a recording in my strangely eclectic collection of physical and digital recordings.  There’s nothing either on any of the umpty ump labels distributed by Naxos USA (lucky me has pretty much unlimited access tot heir digital catalogue) so off I went to YouTube.  And I found a lovely recording by the talented duo of Wallis Giunta and Steven Philcox.  Enjoy.

 

That survey

Blu-Ray-Disc-89676So a few weeks ago I asked readers to help me better understand how they viewed opera on video via a short survey.  The results follow though heavily caveated by the fact that only 22 people responded.

Most people use multiple methods to watch video with 86% using Youtube, 82% DVD, 59% Blu-ray, 50% free video streams and 28% subscription streams. but only 14% (not very surprisingly) using 4K video.

The primary method results are more interesting: 45% use the Internet, 54% use some kind of disk.  The former is dominated by Youtube.  On the latter DVD tops Blu-ray 2 to 1.

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