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Volume 18 Issue 7 - April 2013

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Rich puts it in his New

Rich puts it in his New York Times review of Falsettos. He refers, ofcourse, to the havoc wrought by AIDS which, by then, had devastatedcommunities of gay men perhaps more extensively in New York thanany other American city.In 1981, AIDS had yet to be identified, let alone named. The factthat “Falsettoland” is set in that year, allows the writers to introduce adarker tone to the music as they expand their narrative to include theeffects of the mysterious new illness that Whizzer, one of the story’skey characters, contracts. “When 1981 arrives in Act II,” Rich notes,“Mr. Finn is not merely charting the deadly progress of a plague ... [Heis writing about] a warring modern family divided in sexuality butfinally inseparable in love and death.”Though set in 1981, “Falsettoland” premiered as a one-act productionoff Broadway in 1990. For audiences who saw “Falsettoland” aspart of Falsettos in 1992, Rich notes, the act “[gained] exponentiallyin power by being seen only 15 minutes, instead of nine years, afterthe first installment.” For Toronto audiences today, it is difficult toforecast how the power of Falsettos will still register, the AIDS crisishaving lost the media spotlight even as it continues to blight the livesof millions of people worldwide. Marcus argues that the time is ripeto restage the show — not because it foreshadows AIDS but because itemphasizes the changing nature of families and the way they respondto crisis. As he says, “In a world concerned with the legislation ofProp 8, the It Gets Better campaign, and the recent repeal of ‘Don’t AskDon’t Tell,’ Falsettos offers a platform for discussion about how farsociety has or has not progressed since the AIDS era.”This Toronto production marks the first time ever that Finn hasgranted permission to a producing company to use the text andscore of the original one-acts that comprise Falsettos to re-create thesensibility of the different time periods in which each act is set. ForMarcus, staging the two acts in their original form provides “a genuinesnapshot of two moments in history — something utterly unique in themusical theatre. As such, we want to highlight this rarity and try torecreate for our audiences what it would have been like to revisit thesecharacters after a decade, with a completely new perspective ... that Ithink will help to frame the experience of this family pre- and postthediscovery of AIDS.”The approach is appropriate to Finn’s score which for Marcus is “oneof the most unique ever heard in a Broadway musical. Finn employsalmost patter-like songs which shift quickly from one to the next,and allow characters to rapidly deliver train-of-thought information.Nothing feels planned; it always feels like characters are discoveringthings for the first time as they sing their thoughts.”Like Marcus, Reza Jacobs, muscial director of the production, isthrilled by the opportunity to work with a sung-through score thatis neither opera nor conventional musical. Nevertheless, he admitsthat the score challenges the cast of seven, most of whom are knownto Toronto audiences for their work in productions here and at theStratford and Shaw Festivals. One actor, in particular, I would like tomention — Michael Levinson whose performance as Noah, the privilegedson in Caroline, or Change, won him a Dora nomination last year.Levinson plays the demanding role of Jason, the son of Marvin, thecentral character, whose abandonment of Trina, his wife, and Jason,for another man, Whizzer Brown, is the story’s main throughline.Lapine and Finn end Falsettos with a scene that centres on Jason’sBar Mitzvah — a rite of passage that celebrates a boy’s arrival at manhoodin the Jewish religion. Because this ritual usually occurs when aboy turns 13, his voice frequently “breaks” around the same time, sothat he speaks in two registers — the modal or normal one, and the falsetto,an octave higher. The dual nature of a speaker’s voice duringthis period of change suggests the double nature of the boy/man — aperson able to frame his perceptions of the world from two differentperspectives. This, Lapine and Finn imply, is the state of many of thecharacters in Falsettos.For a significantly expanded version of this column please visit ourwebsite at in Toronto, Robert Wallace writes abouttheatre and performance. He can be contactedat VIEWPOINTSLeaps and BoundsOpera Conferencein VancouverCHRISTINA LOEWENThe timing could not be more perfect. Just last month TheWholeNote editor David Perlman threw down the gauntlet. Thechallenge: to begin the work of rallying a team of cross-countryWholeNote correspondents. Theinitiative started in the last issuewith Ian Alexander’s coverage ofmusic on Vancouver Island. I ampicking up the narrative trail atthe next stop on the journey from“sea to shining sea” in Vancouver,where in just a few short weeks,Opera Conference Vancouver willbe under way.Opera Conference is an annualinternational symposium on opera,this year hosted by VancouverOpera in partnership with OPERAAmerica,, and OperaVolunteers International. Thetheme of this year’s conference is“Opera: Out of Bounds.” It has a fewmeanings, one of which is a play onwords. Every year, OPERA Americaholds its annual conference in adifferent host city, and 2013 marksthe first time in over ten years thatJessica Cheungand Gina Oh in theVancouver Operaproduction ofNaomi’s Road,2006.the conference is being held outside the boundaries of the US, not seenin Canada since 2002 in Toronto. Most if not all of Canada’s opera companieswill be there May 6–11, joined by another 400 delegates fromopera companies across North America and the world.More significantly, the theme “Opera: Out of Bounds” reflects thesector’s growing imperative to expand the definitions of opera beyondthe Euro-centric traditions of the art form and extend its reach beyondthe walls of the opera house. Through diverse programming over threedays, the conference will explore strategies and deliver learning forconnecting with new communities and new audiences, and creatinggreater value and civic impact. There could not be a better placefor such a conference than Vancouver, one of the most ethnically andlinguistically diverse cities in Canada, with 52% of the populationspeaking a first language other than English.There will be opera too — and lots of it. Running concurrent withthe conference is Vancouver Opera’s production of Tan Dun’s Tea:Mirror of the Soul, in its Canadian premiere. Tea: Mirror of the Soul,an extraordinary fusion of Western opera and Eastern myth, fromthe Academy-Award-winning composer of Crouching Tiger, HiddenDragon, will be performed three times over the conference schedule.Vancouver Opera will also present Naomi’s Road, a 45-minute operadesigned for touring to schools and community venues. Based on theJoy Kogawa novel of the same name that details a young Japanese girl’sexperience as her family is interned during World War II, Naomi’sRoad is taken from one of Canada’s most painful and complex socialperiods — one that was not even discussed in schools for years.Vancouver Opera is a proud member of and OPERAAmerica, two associations that share a long history and reciprocalrelationship. In fact, all members of are by default also membersof OPERA America, a membership arrangement that brings realvalue to Canadian members. As a partner in the presentation of the30 | April 1 – May 7, 2013 thewholenote.comTim Matheson photo courtesy of Vancouver Opera

conference, is contributing its own programming and eventsaround the conference.The first of these is the “Vancouver Co-Production Colloquium,”at the very start of the week on Monday, May 6 and Tuesday, May 7.Hosted by Vancouver Opera, at their new production space and corporateheadquarters, the O’Brian Centre, the colloquium is a stapleprogram of offered to professional company members everytwo years. This year, professional companies will come together toexplore potential opportunities for new co-production, co-commissionsand other ways of collaborating to bring greater value to operaaudiences and communities acrossthe country.The link between the success of anopera company and the strength andcommitment of its board of directorshas long been recognized. These volunteerswork tirelessly on behalf oftheir companies. Because of the vastgeography of Canada and the factthat most of them work full timeas well, the opportunities to cometogether and learn from eachTan Dun.other are few and far between. Weare creating such an opportunityon the afternoon of May 7 with“National Opera Directors Luncheon.” Operacompany board members from across Canada are invited to attendthis gathering, to network and learn from one another.Most conference delegates will have arrived by Tuesday, May 7, intime to be treated to a floating “Welcome Cruise and Reception.” Thefull conference kicks off the next day with a keynote presentation byDon M. Randel, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Othernotable speakers include Robert Sirman, director and CEO of theCanada Council for the Arts, Douglas McClennan of ArtsJournal andDavid Gockley, general director of San Francisco Opera. The rest of theconference is a bustling hub of sessions, forums, seminars, break outdiscussions and networking, organized into “tracks” related to operacompany function (technical, financial, artistic, audience development,etc).A highlight and much-anticipated part of every Opera Conferenceis the New Works Sampler, and this year, it shares the bill with“Showcase: A Decade of New Canadian Opera,” on Friday, May 10, atthe Vancouver Playhouse. The showcase is exclusive to conferencedelegates only.Showcase is a retrospective look at works funded through theCanadian Opera Creation Fund (COCF), a ten-year initiative madepossible by a .5 million grant from the Canada Council to,to re-grant in the exploration, development and production of a newbrand of opera — opera made in Canada. The COCF program came toa close in 2011, counting some 24 new operas that had premiered onCanadian stages, with another half dozen still in development, as adirect result of this significant and unprecedented investment.The “New Canadian Opera” portion of the double bill evening ofnew works features:Alternate Visions, John Oliver, composer, Genni Gunn, librettist,submitted by Chants Libres; Brothers Grimm, Dean Burry, composer,submitted by the Canadian Opera Company; Filumena, John Estacio,composer, John Murrell, librettist, submitted by Calgary Opera; LillianAlling, John Estacio, composer, John Murrell, librettist, submitted byVancouver Opera; Mary’s Wedding, Andrew MacDonald, composer,Stephen Massicotte, librettist, submitted by Pacific Opera Victoria; TheEnslavement and Liberation of Oksana G, Aaron Gervais, composer,Colleen Murphy, librettist, submitted by Tapestry New Opera; Transitof Venus, Victor Davies, composer, Maureen Hunter, librettist, submittedby Manitoba Opera.OPERA America’s “New Works Sampler” will feature works-inprogressand recent premieres: Khaos, Don Macdonald, composer,Nicola Harwood, librettist, submitted by the Amy Ferguson Institute;Cold Mountain, Jennifer Higdon, composer, Gene Scheer, librettist,submitted by Opera Philadelphia; Sumeida’s Song, MohammedFairouz, composer and librettist, submitted by Peermusic Classical;The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Mark Adamo, composer and librettist,submitted by G. Schirmer.!!For more information about the conference or to register,visit!!Christina Loewen is the executive director,!!About is the national association for operain Canada. It works with members across the country to representand advance the interests of Canada’s opera community. It seeksto create and sustain an environment that makes opera central toCanadian life, offering greater opportunity for opera artists andaudiences alike.!! provides services in advocacy and communications,along with support for Canadian opera creation. Working in collaborationwith OPera America, facilitates memberdiscussions about artistic quality and creativity, education andaudience development, community service, governance, resourcedevelopment, promising partnership opportunities, internationaltrends in opera production and new technologies.INDEX OF advertisersAcademy Concert Series 44Aldeburgh Connection 14Amadeus Choir 35Annex Singers 37Aradia Ensemble 33Aradia Ensemble/Kevin Mallon 18Art of Time Ensemble 34Associates of the TSO 42ATMA 5Aurora Cultural Centre 37Bach Children’s Chorus 24Canadian Children’s Opera Company 22Canadian Flute Association 57Canadian Opera Company 21Canadian Sinfonietta 48Cantemus 48Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra 38Cecilia Livingston 38Centauri Arts Camp 60Chamber Music Society of Mississauga 37Christ Church Deer Park Jazz Vespers 28Classical 96.3fm 71Continuum Contemporary Music 43Cosmo Music 59Diana McIntosh 33Domoney Artist Management 43Earwittness Productions 40Eglinton St. George’s United Church 48Elmer Iseler Singers 24, 49Ensemble Polaris 44Gallery 345 16, 32Heliconian Hall 56John Laing Singers 51Junction Trio 43Kindred Spirits Orchestra 50Kye Marshall 55Larkin Singers 38Lawrence Park Community Church/Fridays @ 8 48Lenka Lichtenberg 46Liz Parker 58Lula Lounge 39Markham Concert Band 45Matthew Kelly 58Milton Concert Presentations 44Mississauga Festival Choir 34, 48Mississauga Symphony 14Mooredale Concerts 46Music at Metropolitan/Noon at Met 33Music Toronto 2, 9, 33, 4Musicians in Ordinary 45NAXOS/Aradia Ensemble 69New Music Concerts 18, 35, 45Norm Pulker 58North York Concert Band 45NYCO 38Oakham House Choir 44Off Centre Music Salon 46Ontario Guild of English Handbell Ringers 52Opera Atelier 34Orchestra Toronto 39ORGANIX 25Orpheus Choir 23Pasquale Bros 57Pattie Kelly 58Pax Christi 41, 57Peter Mahon 25Port Hope Friends of Music 50Reaching Out Through Music 41Royal Conservatory 11Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra 35Sheila McCoy 58Silverthorn Symphonic Winds 42Sine Nomine 43Sinfonia Toronto 13, 36, 40SING! 24, 59Small World Music 27Soundstreams Canada 16, 44St. James’ Cathedral 4St. Olave’s Church 42St. Philip’s Anglican Church 28Steinway Piano Gallery 7Steve Jackson Pianos 27Sue Crowe Connolly (re-visit?) 58Syrinx Concerts 36Tafelmusik 3, 20, 47Talisker Players 50Tallis Choir 45The Sound Post 17Toronto Chamber Choir 49Toronto Choral Society 23Toronto Classical Singers 49Toronto Consort 4, 19, 34Toronto Downtown Jazz 55Toronto Masque Theatre 18Toronto Symphony 72TorQ Percussion Quartet 47Urban Flute 33Via Salzburg 15, 37Village Voices 49Visual and Performing Arts Newmarket 46Viva! Youth Singers of Toronto 39Voices of Colour Music – Denise Williams 58Western University 60Windermere String Quartet 46Women’s Musical Club 7, 47Wychwood Clarinet Choir 29York University 40You and Media April 1 – May 7, 2013 | 31

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