8 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 5 - February 2005

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • February
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Arts
  • Symphony
  • Orchestra
  • Musical
  • Ensemble
  • Baroque

OPERA IS Discover why

OPERA IS Discover why Iain Scott makes learning about opera fun! performed in Andrew Porter's English translation and directed by Porter himself. The-three performances will take place at the MacMillan Theatre on the U of T campus. As for the present COC season, two operas continue into February. Wagner's Siegfried continues until February 11 and Puccini's ever-popular La Boheme continues until February 12. RARE TREAT FROM TOT The COC may be the biggest game in town, but it's not the only one. The award for rarity of the month · goes to the enterprising Toronto Operetta Theatre, which will present the Canadian premiere of El Barberillo de Lavapies. TOT General Director Guillermo Silva-Marin has been adding zarzuela, the Spanish variant of operetta, to the mix in the TOT's recital evenings and has programmed zarzuelas in concert. He clearly feels the time is ripe for a third fully staged TOT show which will run for three performance from February 18-20. El Barbarillo was written by Francisco Asenjo Barbieri (1823-94) and first performed in 1874, the same year as Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus, and the year prior to Gilbert and Sullivan's Trial by Jury. Seeking to create a distinctly Spanish style of music, Barbieri turned away from Italian opera as a model and toward the native tradition of zarzuela which he and his circle sought to re-invigorate. El Barberillo is considered his comic masterpiece. Lionel Salter, reviewing the Auvidis Valois recording in Gramophone said the work "however different in style, bears comparison. with the best Viennese operettas." Set tn the Lavapies district of Madrid in the late l 8th century, the plot parallels the pursuit by the titular "little barber" Lamparilla of the seamstress Paloma with the romance of the Marquesita de Bierzo and her beloved Don Luis de Haro. Comedy, satire, danger and politics intermix as the operetta moves towards a happy ending. The TOT production stars Colin Ainsworth and Meredith Hall, two singers better known for their work with Opera Atelier, but expert at operetta as anyone who saw last year's The Widow by Calixa Lavalee can attest. Joining them will be TOT favourites Gisele Fredette and Alexander Dobson. Jose Hernandez conducts the TOT Orchestra and Chorus. The chance to see such unusual works as this is what adds vibrancy to musical life in Toronto. "Spri.119 has sprurt.£/j The 9rass has riz; I worufer where The 6ircfies is?" Feb. 22 - March 15 April 5 -26 June 16 -19, 2005 The Art of Bel Canto Handel, Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti Virgil (for opera lovers) & Verdi (for classicists) Tuesdays: Choose 2:30-4:30 or 7-9 pm Opera Tour of Northern Italy 416-486-8408 ?:fie, 9\[.0C C AUDITIONS Feb. 19 and 26, noon to 5 p.m., for the 2005 opera workshops: Puccini's Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi, Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegi.n and other programs. More info at 416.604.1557 or the_ r----------.. TRVPTYCH Canad;a's P.ssionate Advoule of the Voul Aris Adamo's Little Women I An Oper.1 Worksl1op Production I Cdn. l'remit!re I •·"JI 6

BooK Shelf by Pamela Margles This year stans out with more terrific books than ever. It's always exciting when a favourite writer has a new book out, especially when he's been dead for 136 years. It's astonishing that Berlioz's The Musical Madhouse has never been translated before, and great to finally have it in English. Father Owen Lee has frequently shared his insights into opera in books and on radio, but A Book of Hours is his first volume of memoirs. It certainly leaves me wanting more. Michael Urban and his Russian colleague Andrei Evdokimov introduce the blues scene that flourishes in Russia today in Russia Gets the Blues. Let's hope this ground breaking book creates a demand for commercial recordings of the music. Herbert Breslin ·s memoir of working as Luciano Pavarotti 's manager wasn't nearly as devastating as I expected. At least it didn't damage my treasured memory of the bulky tenor with the ingenuous grin on the stage of Massey Hall some thirty years ago. He waved a white handkerchief and overwhelmed me with the matchless beauty of his voice. So the year starts off in promising style indeed. The Musical Madhouse (Les Grotesques de la musique) by Hector Berlioz translated and edited by Alastair Bruce introduction by Hugh Macdonald University of Rochester Press 254 pages illustrated, .00 US When French compo er Hector Berlioz's second collection of music criticism, jokes, anecdotes, and satires was published in 1859, it immediately became a bestseller. Yet, even though he ranks with the greatest writers on music, this is the first complete English translation. Berlioz is a brilliant, sarcastic, mischievous, hilarious, and sublime writer. He is unswerving in his passions, which include Moliere, Beethoven, Rameau, Gluck, Rossini and Mozart. But he is merciless about third-rate composers, pompous soloists, fellow critics, singers who ornament Mozart, audiences who show up late, and opera producers who rearrange and extract composers' works. He even rails against extra-long operas, although his Les Troyens ranks with the longest. Characters like the dancer who refused to perform in the key of E major are fodder for his delightful sense of the absurd. Explaining why he hasn't honoured a favourite singer who died tragically, he writes that 'there's only one kind of funeral oration I know how to do well: for mediocre artists who are still alive'. The illustrations are outstanding, the notes thorough and the index comprehensive. The translator, Alastair Bruce, has felicitously captured Berlioz's dazzling voice. A Book of Hours: Music, Literature and Life - A Memoir by M. Owen Lee Continuum 284 pages, .00 How can a memoir whose main action involves travelling by train across Europe to attend opera performances be so exciting? A Book of Hours focuses on a year Father Owen Lee spent teaching at an American college in Rome sometime in the l 950's. Father Lee is a priest and scholar who recently retired from teaching Classics at the University of Toronto. But he is best known as a witty, genially knowledgeable commentator on the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts, and author of many well-loved books on opera. His subject is the power of beauty to place him 'face to face with something, someone, deep within me and at the same time infinitely beyond'. Theological arguments, ethical dilemmas, and discussions with colleagues and students about Homer, Horace, Sappho, and Wagner mix with lively descriptions of Rome. He illuminates every experience with infinite shades of meaning. His candour is poignant. He shares his torment over losing some of his hearing. He admits to regrets over sacrificing having a family, commenting that Verdi wrote his best music for fathers to sing to their children. But in every facet of this exquisite memoir Father Lee communicates a fertile affirmation of life. Russia Gets the Blues: Music, Culture, and Community in Unsettled Times by Michael Urban with Andrei Evdokimov FEBRUARY 1 - MARCH 7 2005 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM Cornell University Press 198 pages, photos; .95 hardcover; .50 paper Jazz and rock were already well established, and the communist regime had started its collapse, by the time blues arrived in Russia. M i c ha e 1 Urban, a political scientist, and his co-author Andrei Evodiakov, who hosted the influential Moscow radio show, All This Blues, offer a fascinating perspective on the music itself, and its political significance. They describe how blues became a subversive catalyst for social change in Russia, where blues musicians actually help people 'make sense of their lives' by standing up to both the still-powerful remnants of communism and the materialism of capitalist Russia. As one of the many musicians interviewed said, 'Each note must express life'. The bands have names like Old Men's Blues Band, Stainless Blues Band, Crossroadz, and Cry Baby. The band members are wonderful characters - there's a prominent biologist, an economist, an ethnologist, a street musician, a race-car driver, and a stagehand. They usually sing in English, even though most don't speak the language, and few audience members understand it. This fascinating study clearly shows the previously unacknowl- edged role of blues to offer solace and hope in the turbulence of postcommunist Russia. l!f•il :,j i{ I !10 I J" '''I .\l?D

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