8 years ago

Volume 14 - Issue 5 - February 2009

Ines de Castro

Ines de Castro (1325-55). Ines came to Portugal in 1340 as a maid ofprincess Constarn;:a of Castile, recently married to Prince Pedro, theheir to the throne. Pedro, as fate would have it, fell in love with Inesand neglected Constan~a. Eventually Pedro's father Alfonso IVexiled Ines from court and ultimately ordered her murder. Pedro neverwavered in his devotion to Ines and in 1357 when he became king, hedeclared the now-deceased Ines as his lawful wife, had her exhumedand made the court swear allegiance to her corpse. Numerous playsand over twenty operas have been written on the subject.Yet, Hess and Nf Mheadhra wanted the opera to be relevantrather than another retelling of the famous tale. In the QoP versionthe legend is placed within Toronto's Portuguese community in the1960s. Pedro is married to Constan~a but falls fatally in love with thebeautiful fadista Ines. The opera unfolds against a backdrop of Portugal'swar in Angola, the Salazar dictatorship and the Portugueseimmigrant experience in Canada. "We asked Paul Bentley if he wasinterested in writing the libretto and he came on board. He did loadsof research, even going to hear Facto in London and incorporatedeverything we talked about-the nightmare for immigrants duringtheir first winter in Toronto, Portuguese cleaning ladies, the Catholicchurch, etc. and came up with a libretto." After their fourth workshopin May 2008, they knew they could proceed to a world premiere.The opera has four opera singers and one Facto singer. In"Ines", "some of the music is Facto inflected, and there are alsosome songs that are James' version of a Facto and of course our Portuguesesinger sings with Facto inflection. The instrumentation ispiano, violin, amplified/acoustic guitar, clarinet, double bass/electricbass". Meanwhile Mariza, is coming to Toronto on February 13thand Nf Mheadhra plans "to phone her agent to tell him that she wasthe inspiration for our opera".Portugal's celebrated singer Ines Santos will be starring inthe title role. The production also features Giles Tomkins, ShannonMercer, Elizabeth Turnbull and Thomas Goerz with stage directionby Jennifer Tarver. "Ines" premieres at the Enwave Theatre atHarbourfront on Sunday, February 22 at 4pm and subsequently playsFebruary 25, 26, 28 and March 1. For tickets call 416-973-4000 orfor more information visitwww. queenofpuddingsmusictheatre. corn.@Christopher HoileTHE CIVIC LIGHT OPERA COMPANYTORONTO'S PREMIERE MUSICAL THEATREroudl resentsCole Porter'sSilkStockingsThe hilarious Broadway musical comedy featuringsome of Cole Porter's greatest hits ..."All o You" "I Love Paris" "Stereo honic Sound"FAIRVIEW LIBRARY THEATRE35 Fairview Mall Dr , Sheppard/Don Mills.February 18 to March 7Wed. - 7pmfThurs. to Sat. - 8pm/Sun. - 2pm/March 7 - 2 & 8pmTICKETS to .50_ BOX OFFICE: (416) 755-1717 _l.=,.I . ,~- ~~~OPERA AT HOMEBy Phil EhrensaftThe Murder of Frederico Garcia Lorca:Oswaldo Golijov's Ainada.mar (Fountain of Tears)The fascist militia of Grenada,Spain, abducted one ofEurope's great literary voices,Frederico Garcia Lorca,and then murdered him onAugust 19, 1936. The corpseof this landmark poet-playwright-director-composerartistwas dumped in an unmarkedand still unknowngrave. Lorca was only 38when his life was stolen, andall that he would have createdwas stolen from posterity.Murdering Lorca was anearly act in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-38, which was itself a dryrun for World War II. Lorca's fate announced a campaign of targetedmass murders that helped pave the way for General FranciscoFranco's dictatorship, a regime that lasted until the General's deathin 1975.Oswaldo Golijov's first opera bears the title of a location wheremany think the fascist militia "disappeared" Lorca, to use modernparlance: That location is a public fountain bearing the Arabic nameAinadamar, meaning "fountain of tears." Indeed.The artistry of Ainadamar, which premiered at Tanglewood in2003, and was then revisd for the 2005 Sante Fe Festival, does fullhonour to Lorca's life and work. It's a partnership between a very hotand unorthodox composer with two frequent collaborators, the librettistDavid Henry Hwang and the New Music diva Dawn Upshaw,plus Peter Sellars as the stage director. Sellars, from my perspective,is beyond brilliant when he directs contemporary operas. He'san invaluable ally to a composer as an opera travels from an initialgleam in the eye to its premiere. (When Sellars gets his hands onMozart however, oy .)My original intention for this month's column had been to tacklePuccini's penultimate opera, La Rondine, via a review of the recentMet production plus a better than fine Hardy DVD which remasters a1959 Italian television production. But on the way back from viewingObama's inauguration from a comfortable perch in the Canadianembassy, I managed to slip Deutsche Grammophon's recording ofAinadamar into the appropriate slot in my car's radio despite the bestefforts of DG's packaging people to make shrink wrapping impenetrable.Having reviewed earlier Golijov recordings, I had high expectations.But this one bowled me over, as was evidently fhe case forthe powers that be at the Metropolitan Opera, which has given aprized commission to Golijov to create a new opera for the 2011Attention: Opera SingersDo you have a dream rolethat you want orneed to perform?ll 1s easier than you tl1111klMore info: www.OperabyRequest.caope1-ci by requestD.rec:or Vi I! ;:im Stlookhoffseason.Golijov was born and raised inBuenos Aires' large Jewish community.Anyone born in Argentinahas a very direct knowledge ofgovernment and para-militarythugs "disappearing" people.Lorca's plays were kept alive inLatin America while Francobanned them in his native Spain.(In fact the central female characterin Ainadamar is an agingactress in Uruguay - MargaritaXirgu, the actress who unsuc-26 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE .COM FEBRUARY 1 - M AR CH 7 2009

cessfully tried to get Lorca to get to safety by joining her in a tour toCuba.) Add in the experience of Golijov's Eastern European Jewishparents in getting out of Europe in time to avoid the concentrationcamps, and it's evident that creating this opera is far more than agood gig. This scenario is very, very personal.The musical means that Golijov has in hand to create this scenarioare unusually, perhaps uniquely, diverse - and deep. After completinghis formal undergraduate training in Argentina, Golijov headedto the rigorous conservatory in Jerusalem. In Israel , Golijov pickedup on the music of both Arabs and contemporary Israelis. His earlierinformal training included immersion in Jewish liturgical music,Tango as high art music, and Afro-Brazilian drumming. The multiplemusical worlds that we hear in Golijov's compositions are theresult of living and working in diverse contexts, not pastiche to beplugged in here and there. Golijov doesn't quote Afro-Braziliandrumming or synagogue chants - he composes with them.All of these elements had previously been wielded (and welded)with seeming ease in La Pasion segun San Marcos, Golijev's massivechoreographed oratorio that was one of four Passions commissionedby the International Bachakadamie Stuttgart in celebration ofboth the new millennium and the 250th anniversary of Bach's death.Sofia Gubaidulina, Tan Dun, and Wolfgang Rim were the otherthree invitees. This was heady company indeed for a young composerbarely known a decade earlier.La Pasion is an applied case of chaos theory, sparked by Golijov'syouthful experiences in synagogues. Traditional prayers oftencall for each person to chant to their own drummer. It seems to be awelter of confusion, but then the key prayers come. Everybodyshifts gears on the spot and participates in tight coordination. It'slike the Count Basie Band's legendary ability to turn on a dime.Golijov noticed the same pattern in Catholic street parades.None of the above is chaotic in the slightest. It's the product ofpractising for many years and knowing the signals and the repertoire.But it does build up dramatic tension and release.Dramatic tension and release is the name of of the game in opera.When I first heard La Pasion, my immediate read was that this composerought to be writing operas. Golijov's change of course in thatdirection was thankfully not long in coming.In contrast to La Pasion, Ainadamar employs smaller forces andis all the more powerful for doing so. The scenario shifts back andforth from the present of a dying actress to slices of the past. Thesounds of Muslim Spain are rekindled long after they've disappeared.Brazilian drumming ups the emotional pitch when the timeis right.index of advertisers........ PostscriptSometimes the complexmathematics of power is almostindistinguishable from the simplearithmetic of age. Take theCanadian Opera Company forexample.The COC was shepherded to safehaven in its House for All Seasonsby the indefatigable RichardBradshaw bearing the doubleburden of General Director andMusic Director heroically up thehill. His passing sent shock wavesof loss that still reverberate.The COC started theprocess of filling the organizational L. to r.: COC's Neef and Debusvoid with the appointment asGeneral Director of Alexander Neef in June 2008. Hiring a newMusic Director, the 34-year old Neef announced, would be toppriority. January 7, at the COC's 09/10 season launch, Neefannounced "proudly" that the search was over. Johannes Debus,also 34 years old, would be the COC's new Music Director,commencing with the 2009 season, with tenure till 2012/13.So , thirty four plus thirty four equals sixty plus.Please do not mistake my irreverence for disrespect. RichardBradshaw's legacy is beyond dispute. And I really think he wouldhave approved. What could have been worse right now than one ofthose drawn-out audition processes, bringing likely Music Directorsin to conduct, one production at a time, over the course of a year ortwo (with one of the better opera orchestras around pining for aboss)?Instead swift action, and rapturously received, I might add,albeit by a highly involved crowd. Granted, this is not your "So didyou hear the Leafs traded for Debus" water-cooler stuff. l didn'tremember Debus by name from War and Peace in the fall but Isure remember the music and the rapport. Funny, the launch alsohad a "well-conducted" feel to it.Will the COC's two 34s be the formula for the times?That's something to follow.ACADEMY CONCERT SERIES 30 Music 11,36,37,38,40 Music AT PORT MILFORD 52 ROY THOMSON HALL 2 TORONTO CONSORT 37David PerlmanALDEBURGH CONNECTION 30 COSMO Mus,c 24 Music GALLERY 15 ROYAL CONSERVATORY OF TORONTO MASS CHOIR 29,40ALL THE KING'S VOICES 20 EGLINTON ST. GEORGES UNITED Music ON CANVAS 34 M usic 13 TORONTO OPERA REPERTOIRE 25AMOROSO 50 CHURCfl 12 MUSIC TORONTO 9, 12,29,41 SAINT BLAISE 32 TORONTO OPERETIA THEATREART OF TIME ENSEMBLE 16 ELMER !SELER SINGERS 31 MUSICIANS IN ORDINARY 38 SCARBOROUGH PHILHARMONIC 25ASSOCIATES OF THE TSO 36 ESPRIT ORCHESTRA 3 NATHANIEL DETI CHORALE JO 39 TORONTO SUMMER Music 51ATMA5 EXULT ATE CHAMBER SINGERS 20 NORTH TORONTO PLAYERS 33 SECOND VINYL 50 TORONTO SYMPHONYBACH CONSORT 19 FlNGERSTYLE GUITAR DOT CA NORTH YORK CONCERT SINE NOMINE 33 ORCHESTRA 4 , 8BACH ELGAR CHOIR 43 24 ORCHESTRA 34 SINFONIA TORONTO 16 TORONTO WELSH MALE VOICEBLOOR CINEMA 54 GEORGE HEINL 15 OFF CENTRE Mus,c SALONS 40 SOUND POST 21 CHOIR 38BRIAN CURRENT 55 GLENVlEW PRESBYTERIAN 32 OPERA BY REQUEST 26,33,35 ST. CLEMENT'S ANGLICAN TRUE NORTH RECORDS / LINUSCANADIAN OPERA COMPANY 12 HARKNETI MUSICAL SERVICES ORCHESTRAS MISSISSAUGA 32 CHURCH 29 ENTERTAINMENT 62CANCLDNE SERVICES 50 23 0RIANA WOMEN'S CHOIR 41 SYMPHONY TOURS 50 U OFT FACULTY OF Mus,c 17CAPELLA lNTIMA 34 HELICONIAN HALL 52 ORPHEUS CHOIR 19 SYRJNX CONCERT 39 VIA SALZBURG 36CATHEDRAL BLUFFS SYMPHONY HYMN SOCIETY 34 PASQUALE BROS. 51 T AFELMUSIK 64 VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTSORCHESTRA 38 JoEL KATZ 47 PETER MAHON 19 T AFELMUSIK BAROQUE SUMMER NEWMARKET 43CHALKERS Pus 44 JUBILATE SINGERS 38,46 PHILHARMONIC Music LTD. 47 I NSTITUTE 54 WENOY LIMBERTIE 47CHOIRS ONTARIO 52 KOFFLER CENTRE 35 QUEEN OF PUDDINGS Music T ALISKER PLAYERS 31 WHOLENOTECHRIST CHURCH DEER PARK LONG & MCQUADE 23 THEATRE 15 TALLIS CHOIR 39 MARKETPLACE (1) 47JAZZ VESPERS 22 MASON AND HAMLIN 7 QUINTESSENCE HANDBELL THEATRE OF EARLY Mus,c 18 WHOLENOTECivic LIGHT OPERA 26 MISSISSAUGA CHORAL SOCIETY ENSEMBLE 34 TORONTO CHILDREN'S CHORUS MARKETPLACE (2) 54CLASSICAL 96.3FM 63 39 RCCO/LAWRENCE PARK 33CONTINUUM CONTEMPORARY MONICA CHAPMAN 44 CHURCH 37 TORONTO CLASSICAL SINGERS 35FEBR UARY 1 - MARCH 7 2009 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM 27

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