6 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 4 - December 2004

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • December
  • Theatre
  • January
  • Jazz
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  • Musical
  • February

y Sergei Prokofiev in

y Sergei Prokofiev in French Opera in a prologue and four acts. full of the fantastic and the grotesque, the comic and the sad, both whimsical and profound. Raisa Nakhmanovich, Music Dir./Pianist Alain Coulombe, Kelly Winter, Miriam Khalil, Renee Winick, Chantelle Grant The Opera in Concert Chorus, Robert Cooper, Chorus Director Sun. February 6 at 2:30 pm JANE MALLETT THEATRE 416-366-7723 or 1-800-708-6754 The Abduction from the Seraglio J,e. k!).f ::5 nta Tim Brady performed in Montreal in 2003, Lhe three cities in question are l\!fontreal Madrid and Chin-Ch'a-Chi in China. The libretto consists of the texts ofBethune's leuers, and poems by others wriuen in each ciry. As the composer states in bis programme note, "As with Bet· hune's life from 1935 to 1939, the work traces a path starting with large social and political issues of the era (Immigration, the Depression, public health issues, Communism versus Fascism), and slowly moves towards a greater awareness and understanding of Bethune's inner life and his search for a way to live in balance with his own inner demons and his political convictions." The orchestra will be Brady's. own 9-member group Bradyworks under cond c­ tor Pierre Simard with Brady himself on electric guitar. Finally, January 27-February 11, 2005 sees the premiere of Siegfried. Combining elements of both myth and fairy tale, Siegfried, son of Siegmund and Sieglinde. repairs his father's sword, kills the dragon Fafner, who guards a trt:asure including the cursed Ring of the Nibelungs, battles with his grandfather, the god Wotan, and rescues Lhe sleeping Valkyrie Brunnhilde. Staging such fantastic events in the five-hour long work has always been a challenge. The COC, natu· rally enough, is unwilling 10 reveal anything about the look of the work, though, of course, Michael Levine is the designer of all four operas. What COC Associate Publicist Jennifer Pugsley would say is that director Francois Girard will present a "highly psychological" view of the work with . . reminiscences" of the previous opera. Given the archetypal nature of Siegfried's quest this should be quite intriguing. The COC Orchestra meanwhile is busy testing anvils to find the one with the right sound for the great forging scene. Though Wagner demands an orchestra of 110, the COC orchestra will expand from its usual 60 members to 79 since that is the maximum the pit at the Hummingbird Centre will hold. Singing Siegfried will be young German Heldentenor Christian Franz, who has already sung the role in Berlin. Bayreuch, Cologne, Dresden and Vienna.' Frances Ginzer and Peteris Eglltis return as Brilnnhilde and Wotan. Robert Kunzli is Siegfried's devious tutor Mime. For more information consult J6 Cent In The Square Feb.12.17.19 Hamilton Plac Theatre AU performance$ 6pm . Sun g in German with Engnsh supertiUes " Daniel Lipton conducts the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Starring: Benjamin Butterfield Madeline Bender Pa$cal Charbonneau Tickets on Sa l Now 1 .800.265.897 , www.operaontario .. com & SookHyung Park Opera Hamilton & Kltoh&ner Waterloo Opera are parlMrs In Opera Ontario WWW. THEWHOLENOT£.COM MUSIC DIRECTOR LYDIA PEDERSEN STACE DlECTOR JEMHIFER PARR WITH YAME1SA CRAMT, JOHM·MICHAEL SCHMEIDER. MICHAEL MORCAM. PAUL SCHILLACI, JOHM SMITH, JOHM DERKSEM. AMD THE CHOIR OF ROYAL YORK ROAD UNITED CHURCH 851 ROYAL Y.ORK ROAD

OPERA at Horne by Phil Ehrensaft Alben Herring. the almost comic sibling of Benjamin Britten's sombre Perer Grimes, is Lhe COC's pre­ Chris1mas present 10 Toronto. I say "almos1'· because Herring, an intentionally Gilbert-and-Sullivanesque protagonisL. is as much the derided odd-man-ou1 as Grimes. The swift and telling fun marches any in Lhe history of comic opera. But, had Freud been alive when Herring premiered in 1947, he would have cited it as a prime instance of humour as serious work. Britten composed Herring in the grim shadow of World War II. Merry Old bucolic England becomes a fishing village with humanity's cruel warts. The villagers of Loxford cannot find a young woman virtuous enough 10 assume che mantle of May Q!.leen. So they !Urn to Alhert. a naive mother's boy. as May King. Albert's rollicking escape from virtue has a hard edge exceeding, for example. Cosi fan tutre 's bi1- tersweet cake on our foibles. The first rec.'Ordings of Grimes and Herring have an iconic starus. So much so that it's courageous for anyone to record the works anew. Britte::n conducts the original version. Peter Pears sings the lead roles he pre::miered. and which were composed for his unique:: tenor voice. Both rt:eordings are in Universal's catalogue. In the case of Grimes, that would have:: been that, were it not for Jon Vickers' remarkable transformation of Grimes into a menacing. hovering force:: of nature. Britten had reservations about Vickers' recreation of Grimes. Audiences across the world did not. It is di fficu h 10 even think of Grimes without a mental picture of Vickers. Kultur's remastering of a live 1981 Royal Opera Grimes at Covem Garden brings the Vickers magic co DVD. The sound and visual quality show their age. The musicianship and camera work do not. I would consider my opera DVD collec1ion egregiously lacking without this Vickers Grimes on 1he shelf. Kultur also issued a fine Alberr Herring on VHS. Hopefully Kultur will remaster it for DVD, as they've done for Brinen's Dearh in Venice, A Midsunvner Nighr's Dream, and a 1994 digital recording of Grimes by the English National Opera. Adding in The Tum of the Screw (ArtHaus/Naxos) and Billy Budd (Image) means a good range of Britten's masterworks are now on DVD. All are wonhy candidates for an opera lover's Christmas stocking. For Herring. audio recordings present a win-win-win situation. The 1963 Britten-Pears classic has fine analogue stereo sound. Many people will want to stick with that. In 1997. Steuart Bedford. a composerconductor and friend ofBritten's, led an authoritative and delightful digital recording for tht: Collins label. Now it's availablt: on Naxos. When I received a new Herring rt:cording by Richard Hickox conducting the London Sinfonia, I wondered why they ventured into such competitive waters. Then I listened IQ rhe rich sound quality for which the Chandos label is rightly famous. The performance shines. This fullpriced set is wonh i::very penny. Since this WholeNote is a double December-January issue, I'll make brie::f reference IQ DVDs for the 1wo works that kick off the operatic new year in late January: La Boheme and Siegfried at the COC. The reigning alchemist of historic opera restoration. Ward Marston, worked wonde::rs on the golden 1938 La Scala Boheme starring Licia Albane::se and Beniamino Gigli (Naxos). On DVD. Kultur's 1989 San Francisco Opera production is in a class by itself. Mirella Freini and Luciano Pavarorti were in peak form, and this is very good form indeed. Reinhardt! pre6ent6 Spi.ccato Bow6 In the frcnch tradition. designed by lenoit Rolland of france. This finely crafted adjustable carbon fiber bow is guaranteed to last a lifetime. Put away your expensive bow and get the same playability with peace of mind. This bow is stable and can be adjusted for your personal tastes. Endorsed by Jean-Luc Ponty. Christian Tetzlaff and Lord Yehudi Menuhin Chee!< out the website or call for a free demonstration. or call 416-916-900 I The video director, Brian Large, demonstrated why he's one of Lhe best translators of opera from the stage to the screen. For a stellar Mimi. a young Teresa Stratas is not to be missed in an other. vise so-so 1982 Boheme at the Met (Pioneer). Marston also worked magic on a brilliant 1937 Met broadcast of Siegfried. staring Lauritz Melchior and Kirsten Flagstad. For a stereo recording. Sir Georg Solri's 1962 spear, Siegfried Jerusalem singing Siegfried for Decca/London may Siegfried, and Hildegarde Behrens never be surpassed. On DVD, 1he as Brunnhilde. The modernist Pa- 1990 Met production (Deutsche trice Chereau/Pierre Boulez interpre­ Grammophon) is the gold standard: tat ion of Siegfried for Philips is bril- • James Levine wielding the baton. James Morris wielding Wotan's liantly imaginative. Personally I'll 1ake Wagner straight, no chaser. Hi Tech, Hi Fi, Low Price· QuA1,1Tv HEADPHONES rRovmE an economical route to audiophile sound if there's a corresponding quality amplifier, but that's a big if. Most amplifiers, and cha! includes many high-end units. have mediocre headphone outputs. Portable CD or hard disk players don't have the power to properly drive qualiry headphones. That's best achieved with amplifiers specifically designed for headphones. A niche market for audiophile headphone amplifiers is expanding at a healthy clip. Entry-level amps gem:rallystart around 0. Now design innovations by a young Toronto electrical engineer have changed the price-quality calculation, following prt:eedents established by Canadian speaker manufacturers. Gary Ali's Pocket Amp 2 received the International Conterence for Upcoming Engineers award for 'Best Design Project. 2004." The unit measures only 2.6 x 2.6 x I. I". If it's combined with quality in-ear ultra-compact headphones like the Shure E3c, you have a system wh9se main challenge is being so small that you might misplace it. The Pocket Amp 2 is builc with meticulously selected off-the shelf components. High quality amplification is achieved via chips 1hat produce strong signal from low voltages. Standard AA rechargeable NiMh batteries provide more juice than one usually finds in miniaturized amps. Multiple high-level capacitors and miniaturized tried but true amplifier circuitry stabilize the sound. Geo.11 I plugged a demanding set of Grado SRJ25 headphones into the Pocket Amp 2, and put the lauer through its paces with a wide range of music. Suffice it to say, I'm now using this combination on a regular basis reviewing CDs and DVDs. Remarkably. the Pocket Amp 2 sells for just plus minimal shipping costs. It can be purchased either a1 Ali's web site. HYPERLINK " .. or by phoning him a1 905-458-7433. Phil Ehre11snjt D & Co. Limited CONSERVATOR S . PURVEYORS OF Fine & RarC' Violm.< 20! Church SI .. Toron10. ON. M5B I Y7 Tel: 416-363-0093 •Fax: 416-363-(X):i:I Email: ghd@idircct.cum Canada's foremost violin experts. ProuJ of uur hcrir:ig.!i!. E.xdtl·d tl>Ul •h ruturi:. DECEMBER 1 2 004 - FE B R U ARY 7 2 005 WWW. T HEWHOLENOTE.COM 7

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