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Volume 22 Issue 9 - Summer 2017

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CBC Radio's Lost Horizon; Pinocchio as Po-Mo Operatic Poster Boy; Meet the Curators (Crow, Bernstein, Ridge); a Global Music Orchestra is born; and festivals, festivals, festivals in our 13th annual summer music Green Pages. All this and more in our three-month June-through August summer special issue, now available in flipthrough HERE and on the stands commencing Thursday June 1.

The Aix version tacks

The Aix version tacks toward the fable’s deeper waters, though. “Born of the imagination of man, Pinocchio is both alive and artificial,” Pommerat says. “The staging plays on this ambivalence between animate and inanimate, human and puppet. There are lots of fake humans – mannequins – on stage. The spectator does not always know what is living from that which is inanimate.The perception of the spectator is disturbed. This [takes us] in the direction of questioning the difference between the thing and the living. “In my staging, there is of course a scene with the fairy where Pinocchio’s nose lengthens with every lie. It’s an important symbol, both funny and violent. But in the preceding scene, Pinocchio is almost beaten to death by three murderers because he refused to tell them the truth: to confess that he was poor. It is an opera for children but the questions it raises, about education or the relationship with others for example, concern us all. Aggression, blackmail, punishment – all the adults in this tale question our relationship to authority and education.” (It’s a vision more than a bit reminiscent of Metallica’s Master of Puppets, where string-pulling is followed by “twisting your mind and smashing your dreams.”) Pommerat’s touchstone, he says, is Luigi Comencini’s remarkable, Le avventure di Pinocchio, the lavishly praised 1972 production for Italian television which harkens back to post-WWII Italian neo-realistic cinema – back streets filled with rubble, kids scrambling for food, that kind of thing. “I did revisit the Comencini,” says Pommerat, “but I had other sources of inspiration, the films of Fellini, (Max) Ophüls and old photos mixed with what I remember of Collodi. I created this Pinocchio in 2008 for the Théâtre (de la Monnaie, in Brussels). The libretto for that production was rewritten for opera especially for Philippe Boesmans. (Boesmans and Pommerat collaborated earlier for the 2014 production of Au Monde. Asked to come up with something new by Bernard Focroulle, Aix’s out-going chief in two years, Boesmans immediately thought of Pommerat’s Pinocchio.) Adds Boesmans in his separate email: “I didn’t find it interesting for my music to imagine Pinocchio as a puppet. I found it more interesting that Pinocchio is a real pre-adolescent boy going through different phases. I opted for varied musical changes adapted to the adventures that happen to him. “I’m often attracted to victims by having an attitude of compassion toward them. Julie” [based on the August Strindberg play] and Yvonne, Princesse de bourgogne are two good examples. Of course Pinocchio is a puppet, but Joël Pommerat has reconsidered him as a street boy of today. Pinocchio is not a dark character. He obviously undergoes rather violent initiatory tests that teach him to become a real little man.” (Readers may recall that Julie, which premiered at La Monnaie in 2005, was produced in 2015 by Canadian Stage and Soundstreams, making Boesmans’ North American debut with an all-Canadian cast directed by Matthew Jocelyn. Aix’s Pinocchio has its share of Canadians, starting with soprano Marie-Eve Munger as the Fairy, along with mezzo Julie Boulianne, baritone Laurent Deleuil and soprano Magali Simard-Galdès. Munger’s Fairy is, reportedly more hot mama than Tinkerbell, offering the boy, in Pommerat’s description, “the chance of salvation.” Will Tuckett’s spring Pinocchio for the National Ballet was also a follow-up of sorts, his second retelling of the Collodi following an earlier production for the Royal Opera House which, upon reconsideration, needed too much restructuring and rethinking for the Canadian company. “It’s more a family show than a kid’s show, more about excitement than scary,” Tuckett tells me. “There is a lot of subtext one doesn’t get into. So you have to be a lot more honest on how you tell the story. It remains a very strong morality tale, a case of ‘if you do the wrong thing your nose will grow.’ There’s a comeuppance if you transgress.” If there’s any punishment for the title character in Tuckett’s Pinocchio it comes with the relentless – ruthless? – pace the choreography forces the dancer (Skylar Campbell in Toronto) to maintain. Does he ever get off stage? Being an inert chunk of wood begins to look good after a while! Pulse and pace however contribute to the work’s strength, via Paul Englishby’s amenable score. “This production is huge and the music has to be light-footed enough to switch styles,” says the composer who worked with Tuckett on The Thief of Baghdad for the Royal Opera House. “Rhythmically speaking, we play all sorts of games with patterns we’ve set up. The harmony can be quite thorny at times, but Pinocchio has a a musical motive that runs the entire gamut of everything we do.” The National Ballet’s Pinocchio would easily get the Disney seal of approval if Uncle Walt were still with us. Violence and sexuality are kept within parental guidance limits. Dramaturge Alasdair Middleton – who also wrote the book for the 2007 Jonathan Dove Pinocchio opera – avoids scenes of boys hanging or cricket crunching. The Aix Festival has emerged in recent years as the Tiffany’s of the European music season; it’s always sunny and cher. Having Ottawa’s Philippe Sly as its Don Giovanni this year shouldn’t dent this impression in the slightest. (In thinking of the cavernous quality of Sly’s voice, a true bass-baritone, one is reminded of British critic Kenneth Tynan once describing Richard Burton’s voice as having “the stillness of a cathedral.”) But the festival – 70 years old next year – has become particularly sure-footed when it comes with its commissioning and performance of contemporary opera. It seems Aix’s instinct to re-imagine what opera might be – sometimes falling flat on its makeup in the process – often has to do with revisiting the power of illusion itself. Its 2012 hit, George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, set in 13th-century France revolved around illustrated texts. Last year’s Kalila wa Dimna, based on a 2,000-year-old bestseller in Arabic, dealt with the slippery relationship truth has with politics. Likewise, Pinocchio the marionette functions in a diminutive way, the way opera does on the grand scale, as an artificial means of understanding our humanity. Speaking of artificial means. There is one Trump-Pinocchio connection after all. Geppetto is called “pudding” by the local kids, because of the yellow hair in his wig. The fable’s deeper waters: banner promotional photo for Pinocchio running on the Aix website Performances of Pinocchio are at the Grand Théâtre de Provence July 3, 7, 11 and 14 at 8pm and July 9 and 16 at 5pm. Peter Goddard, music, film and visual arts critic for the Toronto Star with a National Newspaper Award for criticism, is the author of The Great Gould, due out this summer from Dundurn Press. MARY ELLEN MARK 14 | June 1, 2017 - September 7, 2017

VALERIE KUINKA General Director RICHARD MARGISON Artistic Director JOIN US FOR OUR CANADA 150 SEASON! AUGUST 3 – 31 | 2017 MASTERCLASSES NEW OPERA CREATION! RICHARD MARGISON Audit lessons with internationally acclaimed tenor and vocal pedagogue, Richard Margison, as he works with the 2017 HOS singers AUGUST 3, 4 & 5 @ 7pm St George’s Anglican Church | Haliburton CONCERTS Photo by David Sweeney Wolf (Ma’iingan) calls together the creatures of the forest with a plan to save the Earth, involving transformation and trickery... however, something goes wrong...!’ WIIKONDIWIN (Feast) Experience this important new work combining opera and First Nations singers and instrumentalists, created for HOS by Odawa composer, Barbara Croall, in its very first public semistaged workshop performance AUGUST 19 @ 8pm NLPAP | Haliburton FROM OPERA TO BROADWAY & MORE OPERA TO BROADWAY The 2017 participants in the Highlands Opera Studio present some of the best loved works from the world of opera and musical theatre AUGUST 9 @ 8pm St George’s Anglican Church | Haliburton AUGUST 12 @ 8pm Minden United Church | Minden CELEBRATIONS! CANADA 150 Songs and music by and about Canadians! AUGUST 16 @ 8pm St George’s Anglican Church | Haliburton ALUMNI CONCERT Hear your favourite singers from previous years in opera and musical theatre favorites! AUGUST 23 @ 8pm St George’s Anglican Church | Haliburton OPERA COSI FAN TUTTE Will she? Or won’t she? Mozart’s popular romantic comedy about testing love! English surtitles AUGUST 27 @ 2pm 29, 30 & 31 @ 7:30pm NLPAP | Haliburton SEASON, YOUTH & VIP PASSES AVAILABLE! Box Office 1-855-457-9933 |

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