8 years ago

Volume 12 - Issue 7 - April 2007

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66ooooooooof ~~.-.did"'-.....-~-¥),.,,._CLASSES & LESSOf\ISrReg~5~err Tciday ff(Q)rrSUJJmmrerr C~asses~Over 40 different instruments & genresranging from classical to rock, folk, worldmusic & hip-hopOver 230 professional faculty dedicatedto excellence in music educationClasses for beginners (newborn to adult)Choirs and ensembles for all levelsSummer Opera Scene StudyMusic Theatre CampMusic history, theory & compositionChamber musicTeacher!miiyschoo~@rcmus~c.caThe !Roya~ C o01 s erva~ory of MusicTo ro n~o:416.408.2825 (Dufferin & B ~ oor)Mississauga:905.891.7944 (Caw~hrn & lakeshore)Lost Genius: The Story of aForgotten Musical Maverickby Kevin BazzanaMcClelland & Stewart384 pages; .99~~~~Book Shelfby Pamela Marg/es•As a child, Hungarian pianistErvin Nyiregyh:izi was so phenomenallygifted that he waswidely regarded as Liszt's successor.The tragic irony of hisstory is that his downward spiralstarted when he escaped from hisdomineering, exploitive mother'scontrol. He became obsessed byhis sexual needs, which Bazzanacharts in more detail than we reallywant. His living arrangementswere incomprehensibly unstable,with most of his ten marriagesdriven by his 'sex mania'.He depended on alcohol, and wasdrunk for most of his increasinglysporadic concerts.Nyiregyhazi seems to havestopped developing musically ashe matured. He played with farless regard for what the composerwrote than for his own feelingsabout the music, and disdainedmuch of the standard repertoire.The older he got, the more histechnique deteriorated. He hadlimited access to a piano formuch of his adult life.Nyiregyh:izi's best hope forposterity lies in the over 800 finishedand 500 unfinished compositionshe left. They form a 'diaryof his life', with titles like ANight of Love with Lisolette, MyGalivanting Wives, My HeartHurts Terribly, The Past HasVanished Forever and The Terrorof Playing Beethoven's "Appassionata"in Concert.Bazzana, who wrote the best biographyof Glenn Gould yet to appear,has again produced a superbbook - fasc inating, elegantly written,thoroughly researched, andmeticulously documented. Thereare photos, samples of Nyiregyh:izi'scompositions, and a wonderfullydetailed index. Nonetheless,Bazzana hasn't quite succeededin convincing me thatNyiregyh:izi was 'one of greatest'pianists of the last century .Performing Architecture:Opera Houses, Theatres andConcert Halls for the 21st Centuryby Michael HammondMerrell.95; 240 pages'Few buildings present as manychallenges for an architect as aperforming arts house,' writesMichael Hammond. In this beautifullypresented book Michael Hammondsurveys fifty opera houses,theatres and concert halls aroundthe world. Most of them are recentlybuilt, but a few have yet tobe completed. Hammond is an engineer,and he shows detailedknowledge of construction as wellas design. For each project, he offersa thorough look at what goesinto making a hall, what makes itwork, and how successful it is.The photos, from varioussources, are splendid. They enhancethe texts with colours, textures,and interesting perspectives.There are also plans, elevations,and sketches.Among the buildings Hammondconsiders are 'the fastest built operahouse in the world' in Copenhagen,and the slowest, in Sao Paolo,recently built from Oscar Niemeyer'sfifty-year-old plans. DanielLibeskind's Dublin arts centrebears a disconcerting resemblanceto Toronto's new ROM addition,while Frank Gehry's concert hallsin Los Angeles and Bard Collegeremind us what he is capable ofwhen unencumbered by an ex istingbuilding, unlike his situationwith Toronto's new AGO addition.Moshe Safdie's arts centrein Kansas City suggests whatmight have been in Toronto, sinceSafdie was the original architectfor the new opera house.Hammond doesn't mention Toronto'sopera house. Then again,he also passes on new halls in Miamiand Nashville. But what hesays about good arch itecture attractingmore people to participatein cultural events has been proventrue in Toronto, as elsewhere.WWW.THEWHOLENQTE. COM A PRIL 1 - M AY 7 2007

On Operaby Bernard Williamsedited by Patricia WilliamsYale University Press172 pages; .00Philosophers make terrific operafans. From Nietzsche and Kierkegaardto Roger Scruton andBryan Magee today, they havewritten rewardingly about operaticmatters. Bernard Williams isthe most important philosopher ofour day to do so. This collection ofhis writings on opera, compiled afterhis death in 2003, draws on awide range of sources, includingprogrammes for the Royal OperaHouse, Covent Garden.With his backround in linguisticphilosophy, Williams takes a refreshinglycommon sense approach.His thinking is clear, andhis writing is transparent. Hewants to be understood. The firstessay 'The Nature of Opera', waswritten for the New Grove Dictionaryof Opera. It's a remarkablysuccinct analysis of what distinguishesopera as 'staged sung drama'.Williams delves deep, but alwaystreats the music as a sensualexperience. His goal is to illuminate.He never confuses the theoryfor the real thing, unlike many contemporarythinkers, and constantlyrefers back to the score, using specificexamples.A lot of Williams' work in philosophydeals with authenticity, soearly music is an ideal problem forhim to take on. Pointing out that'no-one has 17th or 18th centuryears,' he argues that authenticity inperformance is actually recreation,so that if a production aiming forauthenticity is good, it's actuallybecause it sounds new, not old.I can think of no better guidethan Williams to questions like howanything as horrific as the last actof Rigoletto can be so beautiful, orwhy we enjoy listening to the sameoperas over and over.The Opera Lover's Cookbook:Menus for Elegant Entertainingby Francine SeganStewart, Tabori & Chang224 pages; .00'No other art form is linked tofood and eating to such a colossaldegree,' Francine Segan writes inthis cookbook for opera fans. Segan'srecipes are enticing. She favourstop quality ingredients likefresh heirloom tomatoes, notingthat canned tomatoes are betterthan the 'ordinary rock-hard supermarkettomatoes'. 'You shouldn'tuse those tomatoes, ever!' shewrites. But, surprisingly, she callsfor canned octopus for Don Giovanni'sbuffet table, when frozen,or even better, fresh, can be had.Penne alla Norma and OssoNabucco sound delicious, as domany of these recipes. But Iwouldn't touch Mrs. Lovett'sMeat Pies, even though Segancalls for pork or beef instead of themeat Mrs. Lovett actually used,which Segan doesn't mention. Ican't figure out the connection betweenIsolde and Marzipan Kisses,but Segan doesn't explain.A great attraction of this beautifullypackaged book is the photography,with the food glamorouslypresented and photographed byMark Thomas. The shots of operaproductions from the Met workwell, providing a colourful evocationof each opera referred to.These include a photo fromManon with Renee Fleming, whocontributes a charming forward.OPERA AT HOMEby Phil EhrensaftDemocracy as Protagonist:The Long March of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra.Mahler's resigned expectation that the time for his music would comewell after he left this earth could also have been Verdi's with respect tohis dark and stark Simon Boccanegra. In the front line of eminent intellectualssupporting the national movement which opposed the foreignoccupiers and Papal power that fragmented the mid-nineteenth centuryItalian peninsula, Verdi's voice helped shape unification.But the way things began unfolding in the newly unified Italy, leftVerdi worried as he watched the triumph becoming mired in parochialplots that would have done justice to the vicious infighting ofitalian Renaissancecity-states. And so it came to be that the mid-career glories ofRigoletto (1851), fl Trovatore and La Traviata (1853) were followed bythe curious Les Vepres sicilliennes (1855), and then Simon Boccanegra(1859) in which he tackled Italy's wrong turns head on.Les Vepres is curious because it combines music that utterly charmedBerlioz, among others, with a libretto that took off like a lead balloon inParis where it premiered. The storyline centres around an Easter Monday,1282, Sicilian uprising against the French occupiers of the time. TheParisian audience was, unsurprisingly, less than amused to see theirancestors put to the sword on stage in the City of Light.That may be one of the reasons it took over a century for Simon Boccanegrato attain recognition as one of Verdi's masterworks. WhileBoccanegra presents some of Verdi's finest music, and perhaps his bestchorus work, its overwrought plot makes fl Trovatore look positivelycoherent. In fact, the libretto is inspired by the selfsame rather mediocreplaywright, Antonio Garcia Gutierrez, whose work inspired Trovatore.Boccanegra takes a hard look at brutal Renaissance factional politicsas a metaphor for the failure of the Italian national movement tolearn from history. It is also a plea for the largeness of spirit thatmight lead Italy out of its seemingly perpetual quagmire.After twenty-two years, Verdi revised the opera in collaboration witha new librettist, Arrigo Boito - a partnership continued in Verdi's finaltriumphs, Otello and Falstaff. The revised 1881 version is both tighterand even darker and more sombre than the original production. But"tighter" is relative, and Boccanegra can leave even professional operacritics scratching their heads as to the ins and outs of the prolix plot.That being said, the music and intertwined message are as visceralas it gets, and here's my acid test: as the final scene played out atthe Metropolitan Opera's Boccanegra that I attended last month, Ihave never seen so many people openly weeping at an opera performance.Or any other. The common theme among the 3,500 peoplestreaming out of the Met's vasthall: why does this opera not rank ,. • D g g 0among the Verdi masterpieces?The Met's February 2007Boccanegra was a revival of a1995 production by Giancarlo DelMonaco, with James Levine di-CONTINUES NEXT PAGE ~;~v.;.,, - ~0 0- " • · ' d• •!314 Churcl1i l l Ave IToronto , Ontario :M:ZR 1 b7 C!\ n ~d~ (Tel : 416·224·1956 !Fax: 416-224-2964 ~MJKROKOSMOS www.m ikro rWe buy yourrclassical LPcollection(classical, such asBeethoven, Mozart,Stockhausen)' we travel anywhere 'for good collections '--· - --'-' ~ - _.

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