8 years ago

Volume 19 Issue 2 - October 2013

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  • October
  • Toronto
  • Choir
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  • Jazz
  • November
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Joan Sutherland.Louis

Joan Sutherland.Louis Quilico.Mirella Freni and student.MaureenForrester.I brought Joan here. And Tatiana, wasn’t she superb? The tension, theexcitement!” Norma had never been done here, even though it is a mainstayof the bel canto repertoire. “As a general director of a repertorycompany, I felt that my responsibility was to introduce the entire gamutof the repertoire.” So they went from the baroque with Monteverdi’s TheCoronation of Poppea right up to Britten’s Death in Venice, which hadbeen written just ten years earlier.“We always had one operetta every year. If the more esoteric criticsthought Fledermaus was too fluffy, I would say, ‘Then don’t come. Peoplewho like it can come.’ Many times I put on stuff that I didn’t particularlycare for. You don’t do it for yourself, you do it for your audience. Ifyou were running a restaurant, you wouldn’t only serve what you liked.You see what I mean? You’re not a hot dog stand serving just hot dogs. Ieven invited directors I might not agree with philosophically, but whosework our community and the audience needed to see.”Soon after, he started the COC Ensemble. “Here in Toronto I gaveeach ensemble member a two-year contract so they could concentrateon their careers. I gave them roles, covers, and even their own productions.Stuart Hamilton, a wonderful coach, and so knowledgeable, wasthe first music director. Ben Heppner was one of the masters in Meistersinger,and ended up being one of the very best Walters.”Mansouri does try to advise young singers when heis directing or doing masterclasses. “But, you see, theyhave to listen to you. You cannot dictate to them. Also,artists must develop their own discernment and theirown ears. The COC Ensemble was set up strictly forCanadians, which it should be when you get a governmentgrant. But the Merola program in San Francisco istruly international, with Spanish singers, Russians, a lotof young Canadians. Here, I was always accused of notusing enough Canadians — perhaps because I was not aCanadian myself. But I used many more Canadian artistsof any time before or even after me.”Many of Mansouri’s innovations at the COC seeminevitable, like scheduling Sunday matinees. But othermoves seem truly daunting, like creating the TanenbaumOpera Centre, the administrative building on Front Street,which opened in 1985. “I got the money from Tanenbaum,we bought the building, and then we got the government.It’s absolutely the envy of every opera company, becauseyou’ve got your administrative offices, your workshops, a theatre, everythingunder one roof — and it was originally a canning factory!”Of all Mansouri’s accomplishments in Toronto, the one that has hadthe greatest impact is his idea for Surtitles, now used around the world.“One night I was home watching the Ring Cycle from Bayreuth on televisionwith my wife. My wife was not a great Wagnerian, but suddenlyshe said, ‘You know, Lotfi, this really isn’t as dumb as I thought it was.’She had been reading the subtitles on the TV screen. All of a suddenit was like the proverbial apple falling from the tree. If they could putsubtitles on the bottom of the TV screen, why couldn’t we put them atthe top of the opera stage? And that’s how it all started. At the beginningI was just lacerated. Critics tore me to pieces. An editorial fromLondon called Surtitles ‘the plague from Canada.’ Now, of course, everybody’susing them.”“For me opera is theatre, and theatre is communication. My job as astage director is to draw you in emotionally and intellectually. I don’twant you to sit there and think, ‘Oh, that’s a clever idea.’ That means Ihaven’t done my job. I want to involve you so much that at the end of ityour response is, ‘Wow, what an opera!’”Read the full-length version of this story at Reading and ListeningDVDs(*denotes COC productions)• Bellini: Norma (CBC/VAI 1981)*• Donizetti: Anna Bolena(CBC/VAI 1984)*Meyerbeer: L’Africaine(Kultur 1988)• Janáček: The MakropulosCase (VAI 1990)*• Lehár: The Merry Widow(Kultur 1990)Meyerbeer: Les Huguenots(Kultur 1990)• Glinka: Ruslan andLyudmila (Philips 1995)BOOKS• An Operatic Life by LotfiMansouri with AvivaLayton (Mosaic Press/Stoddart Publishing, 1982)• Lotfi Mansouri: AnOperatic Journey by LotfiMansouri with DonaldArthur (NortheasternUniversity Press, 2010)• True Tales from the Mad,Mad, Mad World of Operaby Lotfi Mansouri withMark Hernandez(Dundurn, 2012)• Opera Viva: CanadianOpera Company – The FirstFifty Years by EzraSchabas & Carl Morey(Dundurn Press, 2000)• San Francisco Opera:The First Seventy-FiveYears by Joan ChatfieldTaylor (Chronicle Books,1997)SUTHERLAND: ROBERT RAGSDALEMost Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at noon or 5:30 p.m.“The COC Free Concert Series is just too good to pass up…to say it’s a stunning experience is an understatement.” 416-363-8231Media SponSorSArtists of the COC Orchestra. Photo: Karen Reeves Creative: BT/A14 | October 1 – November 7, 2013

Beat by Beat | In the ClubsJackie, Daymé,and the TJCORI DAGANOn the surface, it is the soundof her voice — an instrument ofastonishing depth — that mighttake your breath away. But her ability tobring an audience to its feet is rootedin so much more. Jackie Richardsonis an acclaimed actress who has wonGemini and Dora awards, with amusical versatility that extends from herroots in gospel to musical theatre, jazzand everything she touches. Whetherbreathing life into a familiar ballad orwailing the blues like nobody’s business,there is an unflinching honesty behindRichardson’s every word, sung throughbig eyes that sparkle with passion. Andbeyond all this, a genuine humility thatputs this lady in a league of her own.This month promises to be memorablefor Richardson: on October 19Jackie Richardson.she performs at Koerner Hall as partof the Royal Conservatory’s tribute toDinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan, with Joe Sealy on piano andfellow vocalists Arlene Duncan and Ranee Lee. Two days earlier shewill have received a great honour: the Ken Page Memorial Trust lifetimeachievement award for contribution to the arts in Canada, whichwill be presented on Thursday, October 17, at the Old Mill as part ofthe Ken Page Memorial Trust Gala. How does it feel to receive such anhonour? She searches for the right words:“It takes my breath away ... I know when I think of my idols, Iwant my idols to be recognized. I want people to never forget PeterAppleyard. And that people would honour me with an award that theymight have given Peter Appleyard, it blows me away, it truly does,” shesays. “I am such an admirer of other people in the field, and I am sucha fan. There are people in the field that I consider myself their groupie.So that anybody else would feel that way about me ... it just doesn’tfit in my day! (laughs) To me, I’m on such a learning curve, there’s somuch more I have to learn and do! I know in my head how I want tosound. I want my breath to be better. I want to be able to phrase more.I’ve got all these goals, and I hear a sound in my head that I want touse more, and all that stuff is yet to come.”She grew up in a musical family (“I was always on the bottom”) andhad many musical idols, but a few stand out.“I loved Aretha — we all sang our share of Aretha, but as far as whereI lived in Toronto and who I listened to and who I wanted to soundlike, that was Dianne Brooks. She could sing everything — she couldsing the R&B, she could sing the jazz, she could sing the country, shecould knock you out with gospel, her voice was so unique and shewas so soulful,” Richardson recalls, and reflects. “I don’t know why,but for whatever reason the universe decided that she wasn’t goingto be known like Aretha Franklin or Nancy Wilson, but that was thecalibre of Dianne Brooks. But all of us — in Toronto in that era — we allwanted to sound like Dianne Brooks. She ruled.”On paying tribute to Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan atKoerner Hall:“When you want to study, when you wanna go to masterclass, that’swho you put on. People like Sarah and Dinah and Ella and Carmen.That’s masterclass every single time you put it on. There are still thoseincredible times even if I played it 100 times, listening to Sarah dosongs and the way she just in a blink jumps up two octaves and thenhits that lower octave like it was twiddling her thumbs — the effectof it is so absolutely amazing. And what I love about all those singers,they did these incredible things with their voices, but they never lostthe sense of what they were singing about. It wasn’t about the technical— the acrobatics of the voice — it was ‘This is my point of view,and me singing it like this, me picking these notes, I hope you understandwhere I am coming from.’ And it’s the same with Aretha — everynote comes from such a true place — and what singers today don’t getthat are trying to do Aretha is they don’t hear the story or they don’tput any value in the story, it’s all about the notes and the riffsand how high can I go — it can bore you to tears.”That being said, there is one young singer that Richardsoncalls “a mesmerizing performer with musicality way beyond heryears.” Cuban sensation Daymé (pronounced “Dimey”) madea memorable Canadian debuton May 30 at the Jane MallettTheatre, as part of “Funny Girlsand Dynamic Divas,” a fundraiserfor the Sistering foundation.Jackie Richardson was in the audiencethat night to witness Daymé’striumphant set of three originaltunes and an arrangement of atraditional Cuban song; at the endDaymé.of her set, the audience eruptedinto a rousing standing ovation.Since graduating from Cuba’s prestigious music schools andstudying piano, voice and percussion at the Amadeo RoldanConservatory, Daymé has been causing a stir on the Cubanjazz scene, melding together classic jazz, soul and Afro-Cubansounds into a fresh new sound. Canadian jazz luminary JaneBunnett and her husband Larry Cramer | continued on page 52THE MUSIC GALLERYPRESENTS10.11.13X AVANT ViIITHIS IS OUR MUSICQuartetski plays StravinskiStravinsky’s riotous opus gets a righteous rework10.12.13The FLUX Quartet plays Morton FeldmanSix new hours: a slow-motion rave10.13.13Charlemagne Palestine + Rose BoltonAn unforgettable visit from a guru of trance music10.19.13The Beat: A Tribe Called Red & Nelson TagoonaThe vanguard of urban Aboriginal soundALL-ACCESS FESTIVAL PASS ONLY 0FOR TICKETS AND INFORMATION VISIT October 1 – November 7, 2013 | 15

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