7 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 3 - November 2005

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • November
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • December
  • Musical
  • Index
  • Concerto
  • Ensemble
  • Choir

the works of Rameau and

the works of Rameau and his contemporaries. What makes Lully's Annide perfect for OA is the French ideal of the complete integration of dance into opera where the ballet is not just gratuitous entertainment but absolutely essential to the storytelling. Singers and dancers physically mingle, often with the same music being passed between them. In fact, there will be more dancing inAnnide than in any previous OA production. With a preparation time of five years Pynkoski was able to snare his first choices for every aspect L--------------J of the work. Andrew Parrott will conduct, Colin Ainsworth will sing Renaud and Stephanie Novacek will sing Armide. Performances run to November 12. Pynkoski relates that after a particularly exhausting rehearsal, Andrew Parrott, who had arrived directly from a trans-Atlantic flight, turned to him and said, "Don't you think Marshall Pynkoski we' re just about the luckiest people in the world?" Pynkoski agrees, "I can't imagine anything that could be better than this, I really can't." As audiences know, it is this unquenchable love for what they do that has animated every OA production over the past twenty years. OPERA at Home by Phil Ehrensaft The First Great Opera of the 21st Century? Kaija Saariaho's L'Amour de loin (Love From Afar) ThE NECESSARY RESPONSE to the question mark in this column's title is: while only Father Time's severe tests will tell, the unorthodox L'Amour de loin, premiered at the summer 2000 Salzburg Festival to both popular and critical acclaim, shows every sign of being the real deal. Thanks to an exemplary new Deutsche Grammophon DVD of a 2004 Finnish National Opera production of L'Amour, a wider audience can see and hear what has generated so much excitement. L'Amour was synergized by a triple partnership of exceptional talent: Kaija Saariaho (who had carved a shimmering, independent path in Europe's new music scene, but had never composed an opera); Amin Maalouf (a novelist and deserving winner of France's Prix Goncourt, who had never written a libretto or even thought about it); and Peter Sellars, the enfant terrible of opera direction. Sellars was involved in the nascent opera from day one. That included recruiting Maalouf. '-. f f 2005-2006 -- and Opera Courses Opera Tours " with \ 2005 -2006 COURSES A fall weekend seminar Discovering the lesser known Mozart Mozart - The greatest of all opera composers? What to listen for in German and French Opera A winter weekend seminar "Gotterdammerung" In Quest of Operatic Dons The Five Key Themes of Wagner's Ring 2006 TOURS Barcelona - Madrid - Seville - Lisbon Berlin - Dresden - Prague - Vienna Vienna - Ludwig's Castles - Munich 5~ Annual Verdi's Italy Chautauqua and Glimmerglass Iain Scott weekend Nov 12-13 With Rick Phillips of "Sound Advice" 4 weeks Nov 22 - Dec 13 4 weeks Jan10-31 weekend Jan 21-22 4 weeks Feb 14 - Mar 7 week July 16- 21 At Classical Pursuits March 14 - 28 April 11 - 22 April 22 - May 2 June 16 - July 1 Aug 3 - Aug 10 FBA-PEKKA SALONEN, who conducts the Finnish Opera Orchestra in this production, was an implicit fourth partner. Salonen's championing of new music has been integral to the rise of the Los Angeles Symphony to international prominence. Although Kent Nagano conducted the premier in Salzburg, Salonen supported Saariaho's opera via commissions for song cycles that provided musical material for L'Amour. The song cycles also involved Dawn Upshaw, who assumed the lead female role both at Salzburg and the Finnish Opera. Maaloufs libretto is inspired by legends of a 12th century troubadour, Jaufre Rudel, Lord ofBlaye in France' s Aquitaine region. Rudel was purportedly inspired by accounts from pilgrims and crusaders of the beauteous Countess Hodierna of Tripoli. Hence the persistent theme of "love from afar" in his songs. And also his decision to join the Second Crusade in 1147. Rudel crosses the Mediterranean, falls deathly ill at sea, and has one brief moment with his distant love when the Countess descends from her castle to hold the dying troubadour in her arms. Verdi could live with that. (So could Victor Borge, but never mind.) It's the real stuff of opera: Take an implausible plot and drive it with music that probes the fundamental dramas and dilemmas of the human condition. Maaloufs libretto, however, is first-class literature, and has been published as such. He limits the story to three characters: Rudel; the countess, who is named Clemence, which provides some nice occasions for word play (think inclement); and The Pilgrim. They're backed by a Greek-inspired chorus. Rudel renounces the dissolute life of his aristocratic confreres in favour of his never-seen amour de loin, but wonders in a thoroughly modern way whether he really feels anything or just has contact with words. He also wonders whether love for the angel he doesn't know would flourish in the flesh. Clemence, on the 38 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM N OVEM BER 1 - D ECEMBER 7 2005 Back to Ad Index

other side of the Mediterranean, wonders the same. Each turn in the medieval legend gets peppered with 21st century angst and questions about clashes of civilizations, East and West. Here' s a good sample of Maaloufs craft, in this instance posing questions about art and communication via Jaufre's angry declamation of betrayal when he learns that The Pilgrim sang the troubadour's songs to Clemence (my translation). Jaufre Lui as-tu recite mes poemes? Did you recite my poems to her? Le Pelerin (the pilgrim) le n 'ai pas si bonne memoire le lui ai chantonne un peu pres ... . I don't have such a fine memory I sang them approximately Jaufre A peu pres!! Que veux-tu dire par « un peu pres »? le passe mes journees et mes nuits a composer mes chansons, Chaque note et chaque rime doivent passer a l 'epreuve du feu. le me deshabille et me rhabille vingt fois, trente fois, Avant de trouver le mot Juste . Qui de toute eternite etaient la, Suspendu dans le ciel, A attendre sa place. (Approximately!! What do you mean by 'approximately'? I pass my days and my nights composing my songs Every note and every rhyme must pass the test of fire I deconstruct and reconstruct them 20 times, 30 times Before finding the right word that has been there since all eternity, Suspended in heaven Waiting its place. SAARIAHO's COLOUR-SATURATED music is sui generis. She masters a wide range of new music, but has never wanted to adhere to, or establish, any particular school. Saariaho was a founding member of the "Ears Open" collective that did much to transform new music in her native Finland. She headed to IRCAM in Paris during the 1980's in order explore computers and music, settled in Paris permanently, but never became a card-carrying "IRCAMienne." L 'Amour's music flows seamlessly in five acts over two mesmerizing hours. The action is mainly in the internal state of mind of the three protagonists or slow physical movement through quite spectacular postmodernist scenery, including a stage floor composed of a pool of water several inches deep. The shimmering water is a perfect complement to Saariaho's shimmering music. Inspiration from Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande, and Messiaen's Saint Franr;ois d'Assise, is evident, but as a launching point, not a model. Saariaho's composing has been described as "painting in musical colours." There are simple chords, but tonal procedures are avoided. Musical colours tend towards a combination of high register sounds from brass and woodwinds coupled with somber and intense strings in lower registers . Prerecorded electronic music is subtly blended in. Rhythm plays a minimal role in moving things along. Rather, abrupt changes in colour and dynamics transform languid flows into an emotional storm. It's a ride. The ride is brilliantly pursued by Canada's star baritone, and darling of the Metropolitan Opera, Gerald Finley. Frequent close camera shots demand exceptional acting ability, which Finley has in abundance. The camera work counts among the very best in filming opera. Soprano Dawn Upshaw as Clemence, and mezzo Monica Groop as The Pilgrim, are riveting. The excitement and intense emotional involvement of all three singers leap out from the screen. I have one answer for anyone who asks whether opera is moribund as an art form: watch L'Amour de loin. WholeNote's Half Page Shameless self-promotion! WholeNote rides the rails. In September we began distributing 3000 copies per issue in the Gateway racks in subway and GO Transit stations. The copies arrive early in the morning of the distribution day announced on page 9 of the previous issue and appear to be going like hot-cakes. Within a day or two al I appear to have been picked up, so if these are convenient locations, use them, but don't procrastinate! This initiative brings our circulation to a minimum 38,000 copies printed and distributed. WholeNote Live! WholeNote will have a booth at the Toronto Music Expo at the Metro Convention Centre ( on Front Street across from the CBC) on the November 19-20 weekend. Learn more about this terrific event on page 8. We love meeting our readers! Come visit us and take in the whole show. THE YEAR AT A GLANCE Special focuses: December I January combined issue. CDs, DVDs, books ... : gifts for music lovers of all sorts. February Music Education Part 1 . HUr'liUl'\l\l.,,. . . . '' . , ._L,!.,~.' . , . Post-secondary and continuing March Music Education Part 2 Summer and beyond April Focus on opera: celebrating the season on stage and behind the scenes May Canary Pages overview of the Choral Scene June Festival Season Overview July/ August Festival Season: all the details Sep tern ber ~. $':f ,l Community bands and orchestras are a ~~, ·~, cornerstone of amateur music-making: .; . how to find them and where and when they rehearse. C..: October Annual Members Blue Pages: presenter profiles Advertising inquiries: 416-323-2232 or Deadline to book space: 15th of the preceding month. Editorial queries, suggestions and proposals: or 416-603-3786. Usual story lead time: 20-30 days B NOVEMBER 1 - DECEMBER 7 2005 Back to Ad Index WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)