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Volume 24 Issue 4 - December 2018 / January 2019

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  • Toronto
  • December
  • January
  • Jazz
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When is a trumpet like a motorcycle in a dressage event? How many Brunhilde's does it take to change an Elektra? Just two of the many questions you've been dying to ask, to which you will find answers in a 24th annual combined December/January issue – in which our 11 beat columnists sift through what's on offer in the upcoming holiday month, and what they're already circling in their calendars for 2019. Oh, and features too: a klezmer violinist breathing new life into a very old film; two New Music festivals in January, 200 metres apart; a Music & Health story on the restorative powers of a grassroots exercise in collective music-making; even a good reason to go to Winnipeg in the dead of winter. All this and more in Vol 24 No 4, now available in flipthrough format here.

Will the designs by

Will the designs by Lorenzo Savoini for the show be inspired or influenced by the book’s famous Clement Hurd illustrations? Yes! They’re such beautiful illustrations, so that influence is absolutely there. Lorenzo’s created a gorgeous container for our story to unfold, and that container is that terrific pink of the pages of The World Is Round. Both the illustrations and Lorenzo’s design live in that sweet spot between childlike and sophisticated. The first time I saw Hurd’s drawings they struck me as both unlike anything I’d ever seen and at the same time totally familiar. The design lives in that space, too. Mike and I have handed Lorenzo, our costume designer Alexandra Lord and our director Gregory Prest a ton of challenges, and what I’ve seen so far has been so inventive and enchanting. I think it’ll be a real pleasure to spend time in the world they’re creating. Vanessa Sears is YPT’s Mary Poppins If you had to sum up the show in one sentence for prospective audience members what would you say? This is a grown-up show for kids and a kids show for grow-ups – it’s beautiful, funny and unusual and you’ll leave humming. That’s kind of a cheat sentence, but there it is. (For a first taste and glimpse of the musical go to the Soulpepper YouTube channel to hear the song A Name Means a Lot performed by Hailey Gillis. Rose opens at Soulpepper on January 17 and has already been extended to February 24.) Looking Back (And Immediately Ahead) Fantasticks: For one night only, on October 30, Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s sweet-yet-tart chamber musical The Fantasticks came back to life in a delightful semi-staged concert at the Stratford Festival as part of the Forum series. I know the music well, but had never seen the show live – although it is famous as being the longest-ever running musical off-Broadway. It was fascinating to see this version which was true to the original but subtly revised for 21st-century sensibilities, including changing the two fathers of the original to two mothers. In the role of El Gallo, the mysterious character who acts as narrator and mastermind of the plot, TV star and former Stratford company member Eric McCormack led the cast with great warmth and style. Red Sky: Another highlight of the season so far for me was Red Sky Performance’s most recent dance theatre creation, Trace, which premiered at Canadian Stage in early November sweeping audiences to their feet. A powerful and inspiring envisioning of Anishinaabe sky stories, this production is, in my opinion, the best yet from Red Sky. All the elements: Jera Wolfe’s athletic sculptural choreography, the atmospheric music of Eliot Britton and projections by Marcella Grimaux, are reaching for new heights and attaining new levels of artistry through their combination in the service of specific, yet universal, storytelling. Coming up in December: All the usual seasonal favourites including Ross Petty’s annual panto (this year The Wizard of Oz), the National Ballet’s Nutcracker, and many versions of A Christmas Carol are on tap. On December 8, there is also a first public workshop of a new family-oriented musical version of Jack & the Beanstalk by classically trained Canadian composer William Lavigne. Inspired by the traditional musicals of Gershwin, Bernstein and Rogers and Hammerstein, Lavigne says that he really wants to “present a new theatre piece that Jak Barradell is Neleus/Northbrook/ Von Hussler in YPT’s Mary Poppins is musically accessible and suitable for all ages to enjoy, based on a story that is relatable to everyone.” Benoit Boutet, Gabrielle Prata, and Adi Braun lead the cast in this first public outing of the in-development Jack & the Beanstalk at the Royal Conservatory’s Temerty Theatre. MUSIC THEATRE QUICK PICKS !! DEC 1 TO JAN 6: Young People’s Theatre. Mary Poppins. !! DEC 7, 7PM: Brampton Music Theatre. Mary Poppins (full-length version). As the sequel to the original movie takes over cinemas, two productions of the recent stage version of Mary Poppins (book revised by Julian Fellows) are playing in time for the holidays. YPT’s shortened version, ideal for young children, this year directed by wellknown performer Thom Allison, has excellent word of mouth !! DEC 1, ONWARDS: Mirvish Productions. Come from Away. If you haven’t seen it yet, treat yourself and loved ones to this ridiculously good and truly heartwarming Canadian musical soon transferring from the Royal Alex to the Elgin Theatre and with a run extended to at least June 2019 !! DEC 5 TO 16: Civic Light Opera Company. Scrooge, the Musical. Music, lyrics and book by Leslie Bricusse. As a longtime fan of Leslie Bricusse’s lyrics for Victor/Victoria I am very intrigued by this version of A Christmas Carol. !! DEC 8 TO 30: National Ballet of Canada. The Nutcracker. One of the best introductions to the ballet for children, and for many families an annual outing; possibly more popular than ever now that a new film version has just appeared. !! JAN 4 TO 27: Tarragon Theatre. Kiviuq Returns: An Inuit Epic. Music, drumming, dance and storytelling combine in a new modern evocation of the legendary figure of Kiviuq: hero, seeker, wanderer by the Qaggiq Collective; all in Inuktitut. !! JAN 17 TO 27: Mirvish. The Simon and Garfunkel Story. This immersive concertstyle presentation of a biographical walk-through of the musical partnership, with large-scale screen projections and a full band, is said to be a must-see for fans and should be a good fit for the intimate CAA Theatre. !! JAN 29 TO FEB 9: Tapestry Opera. Hook Up. Another exciting world premiere from Tapestry, this time dealing with the very current issue of consent in a university setting. With a young cast of classically trained singer/actors, a contemporary book by Julie Tepperman and score by Chris Thornborrow, word is that Hook Up is part opera/ part musical. Toronto-based “lifelong theatre person” Jennifer (Jenny) Parr works as a director, fight director, stage manager and coach, and is equally crazy about movies and musicals. 36 | December 2018 / January 2019 thewholenote.com

Beat by Beat | On Opera Some Old, Some New Some Tried & True CHRISTOPHER HOILE The end of the old year and beginning of the new features a mix of old and new operas and old operas rejigged to be like new. There never used to be so much variety at this time of year, but it’s a challenge operagoers will gladly have to get used to. Elektra: The production on the largest scale in these two months is the Canadian Opera Company’s remount of Richard Strauss’ Elektra running for seven performances from January 26 to February 22. This will be the second revival of the imaginative production directed by James Robinson since its debut in 1996. It is especially noteworthy that this productions stars two former COC Brünnhildes. Christine Goerke, the COC’s most recent Brünnhilde, sings the title role and Susan Bullock, the Brünnhilde for the COC’s first ever Ring Cycle in 2006, sings Elektra’s hated mother Klytämnestra. Bullock previously sang the role of Elektra when the COC last presented the opera in 2007. Soprano Erin Wall sings Elektra’s sister Chrysothemis, baritone William Schwinghammer sings Elektra’s avenging brother Orest and COC favourite, tenor Michael Schade, sings Klytämnestra’s lover Aegisth. Johannes Debus conducts the score of this opera that inhabits the same rich, violent sound world as its immediate predecessor by Strauss, Salome, and is a real showpiece for the orchestra. WOW Factor: Though they are largely unseen by the general public, the COC has steadily been developing a repertory of operas for children that it tours to schools all around the province. Lately, the COC has taken to giving the public a look at these charming works. Its newest is WOW Factor - A Cinderella Story with music by Gioacchino Rossini from his Cinderella opera La Cenerentola (1817) adapted by Stéphane Mayer with a new English libretto by Joel Ivany, artistic director of Against the Grain Theatre. Ivany is well-known for his ability to write new libretti to existing music as he has done for AtG’s Mozart series of Figaro’s Wedding (2013), Uncle John (2014) and A Little Too Cosy (2015). One can tell that La Cenerentola has undergone quite a lot of musical adaptation since the original runs about 148 minutes whereas WOW Factor runs only 50 minutes. Rossini’s opera has no Fairy Godmother and neither does Ivany’s adaptation. In his updated version the hit singing show WOW Factor arrives at Cindy’s school. Students jump at the chance to compete for the top prize – especially with pop sensation Lil’ Charm rumoured to be there. Shy Cindy dreams of sharing her talents with the world but friends become mean girls when she steps into the spotlight. The question is can Cindy, driven by her desire to sing, and with a bit of help from a reluctant pop star and his sidekick, overcome her fears to find her own unique voice? The roles are sung by members of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio and before each performance, young audience members can take part in interactive activities related to the opera. The recommended age is from 5 to 12 years old. Performances at 11am and 2pm take place on both December 1 and 2 in the Imperial Oil Opera Theatre and tickets are free for children under 12. The 11am performance on December 2 is designated as a relaxed performance and people of all abilities are welcome. TOT’s Fledermaus: Meanwhile, as it has done for more than 30 years, Toronto Operetta Theatre continues its service of helping Torontonians bridge the old and new years with operetta as it has done for more than 30 years. This year it revives its production of Johann Strauss, Jr.’s Die Fledermaus for five performances from December 28, 2018, to January 2, 2019. Die Fledermaus, the peak of the Golden Age operetta, which has become over time intimately associated with New Year’s Eve in Europe and abroad, stars Lara (from left) Betty Allison as the Trainbearer, Susan Bullock as Elektra and Ewa Podleś as Klytämnestra in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Elektra, 2007 Ciekiewicz, who previous was a stunning Sylva Varescu in Kálmán’s The Gypsy Princess in 2011. Also in the cast are tenor Adam Fisher, who sang Paris in TOT’s La Belle Hélène earlier this year, Caitlin Wood as Adele and TOT favourite Elizabeth Beeler as Prince Orlovsky. Derek Bate conducts and Guillermo Silva-Marin not only directs but plays the role of Frosch, the jailer. MICHAEL COOPER thewholenote.com December 2018 / January 2019 | 37

Volumes 21-24 (2015-2018)

Volume 24 Issue 4 - December 2018 / January 2019
Volume 24 Issue 3 - November 2018
Volume 24 Issue 2 - October 2018
Volume 24 Issue 1 - September 2018
Volume 23 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2018
Volume 23 Issue 8 - May 2018
Volume 23 Issue 7 - April 2018
Volume 23 Issue 6 - March 2018
Volume 23 Issue 4 - December 2017 / January 2018
Volume 23 Issue 3 - November 2017
Volume 23 Issue 2 - October 2017
Volume 23 Issue 1 - September 2017
Volume 22 Issue 9 - Summer 2017
Volume 22 Issue 8 - May 2017
Volume 22 Issue 7 - April 2017
Volume 22 Issue 6 - March 2017
Volume 22 Issue 5 - February 2017
Volume 22 Issue 4 - December 2016/January 2017
Volume 22 Issue 2 - October 2016
Volume 22 Issue 1 - September 2016
Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016
Volume 21 Issue 8 - May 2016
Volume 21 Issue 6 - March 2016
Volume 21 Issue 5 - February 2016
Volume 21 Issue 4 - December 2015/January 2016
Volume 21 Issue 3 - November 2015
Volume 21 Issue 2 - October 2015
Volume 21 Issue 1 - September 2015

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)