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Volume 13 - Issue 6 - March 2008

On Operaby Christopher

On Operaby Christopher HaileThe main opera on offer in March is an intriguing new work called"Stitch" presented by urbanvessel and The Theatre Centre at theLennox Contemporary (12 Ossington Avenue) March 12-16 as partof World Stage 08 and the FreeFall Festival. It is "an a cappellaopera for three women and three sewing machines" by Juliet Palmerset to a libretto by Anna Chatterton. According to the press release,'"Stitch' gives voice to the unseen women who clothe us all."Via e-mail Palmer and Chatterton explained the origins of thepiece: "Architect Christie Pearson and Juliet brainstormed the ideaof the architecture of fabric meeting the sounds of sewing. Thework grew from there to include Anna's writing. We developedmuch of the early material through a collaborative improvisatoryprocess with singer Christine Duncan."The inspiration for the the work comes from "the sounds of thesewing machine, the mind-altering effects of repetitive tasks, and thephysical and acoustic impacts of different textiles and forms. Thetrance-like states that repetitive work induces could be seen to parallelthe larger cultural madness induced by industrialization." As thecreators point out, "The mechanization of women's work has powerfulpolitical ramifications-the sewing machine has been both aforce for liberation and exploitation since its advent in the 19th century."Chatterton has approached the text in various ways: "usingNeema Bickersteth in Stitchthe vocabulary of sewing terminology (French seam, running stitch,tacking, puckered, basted, etc.); examining the rhythmic sounds ofthe sewing machine and matching that with similar rhythmic phrasesas well as invented onomatopoeic words."Mythologically, the image of three women sewing conjures up thethree Fates, but the creators also see their characters from a socialand political perspective: "The three women are both mythologicaland everyday sweatshop workers. There's no narration of history.The audience is plunged into the mind of the worker and the dramabetween three women and the roles they choose in a situation of littlehope. We are interested in raising questions about individual control,responsibility and empowerment. In such a working environment doyou accept your fate , fight for change, or join the system?"In explaining why the work is a cappella, the creators emphasizethat "In centering our work in the human voice , we are also questioningthe effect of mechanization on musical culture. There are norecorded sounds in the work: just the human voice and the machine."The machines themselves come from three different periods:"one is an old treadle machine that whistles like a gentle breeze,another a loud 1940s electric powerhouse and the third a more contemporaryelectric machine which makes a soft whispery sound."Palmer says, "Even when I write for voice with instruments, it isthe voice which comes first. Without instruments or electroacousticsounds, however, the voices must create many different dramaticstates. We're working with a wide range of vocal timbre and styles.It 's very intense concentrated work and so we're careful there is stillroom for silence and for breathing. "For Chatterton, "The job for a librettist doesn't tend to differ froman a cappella or instrumental piece, since the writing always comesbefore the music. In both cases, I am interested in rhythm, story andcharacter. The difference in 'Stitch' was that I had sound to workoff and be inspired by; usually, it is simply the story or theme thatare my tools to begin to write. This piece was particularly satisfyingfor me to try to match words and sounds to mimic the sounds andrhythms of the sewing machines. "The fully-staged 45-minute opera will be performed by ChristineDuncan, Patricia O'Callaghan and Neema Bickersteth and directedby Ruth Madoc-Jones.Opera By RequestPresentsGiuseppe Verdi :SRIGOLETTOin concertLarry Tozer Anna Bateman Keith KlassenWilliam Shookhoff, DirectorSaturday, March 8, 7:30 p.m.College St. United Church - N/W Corner Bathurst/CollegeTickets - , Students/Seniors - Info/Reservations call (416) 455-2365 or visit operabyrequest.caWWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM MARCH 1 - APRIL 7 2008

Anna Chatterton, Neema Bickersteth and Christine Duncan, from thenew opera "Stitch" at the Lennox Contemporary March 12- 16.On February 20, Opera Atelierannounced its 2008-09 season.As in the present season OAwill pair Mozart and Monteverdi.November 2008 will see OA'sfirst ever production of Mozart'sThe Abduction from the Seraglio(1782) with Canadian tenorFrederic Antoun as Belmonte andcoloratura soprano Amanda Pabyanas Konstanze. The operaruns November 8-15, 2008. InApril 2009 OA will revive itsproduction of Monteverdi's TheCoronation of Poppea (1643)last seen in 2002. Canadian mezzosoprano Kimberly Barbermakes her OA debut as Nero andsoprano Peggy Kriha Dye singsPoppea. Poppea runs April 25-May 2, 2009. For both worksDavid Fallis conducts TafelmusikBaroque Orchestra.Attention: Opera SingersDo you have a dream rolethat you want orneed to perform?It is easier than you think!More info: www.OperabyRequest.caape rcl by requestDirector: Wilham ShookhoffTAKE ME OUT TO THE OPERAFamily Workshop, May 1 0OPERA JAM! and OPERA REMIXEDPrograms for YouthREGISTER NOW!416·306-2377coc.caM AR CH 1 - A PR I L 7 2008 WWW, THEWHO LENOTE,COM 27

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