7 years ago

Volume 7 Issue 8 - May 2002

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  • Toronto
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T•O. by Colin Eatock

T•O. by Colin Eatock ... But Can They Act? April 8, 2002. - On the way to work, I run into an acquaintance - a successful author and a man of the theatre - who tells me he recently attended the Canadian Opera Company's production of Handel's Julius Caesar. Alas, it seems he didn't like anything he saw: not the sets, nor the costumes, nor the stage direction. However, he reserves his most disparaging words for the acting talents of Ewa Podles, singing the title role. "She was trying to effect a man's manner, but tJ:iat only emphasized the difference," he fumes: "The whole thing was 'stand and deliver' - and you can't get away with that, these days." This is by no means the first time I've heard theatre people ·complain about acting on the operatic stage. As an opera fan, my i~tinct GEORGE WESTON RECITAL HALL · There is exquisite music to be heard during the 2002/2003 season. · Toronto Symphony Orchestra Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra Toronto Philharmonia Subscribe Today! For Toronto Symphony subscriptions or a free TSO brochure, call the TSO Customer Service Centre at 416.598.3375 or visit their website at For Toronto Philharmonia and Tafelmusik subscription info. please call thE? Toronto Centre for the Arts at 416. 7 33.0545. CLASSICAL CO!\li\IENT is to spring to the singer's defense. I suggest that opera acting is, of necessity, a stylized form of drama. "Acting in the theatre used to be like that, too - about a hundred years ago!" replies the young man. At this point there's not much more I can say: as I haven't yet seen the production, I'm in no position to argue its merits. · April 16, 2002. I watch Act I of Julius Caesar at the Hummingbird Centre with some trepidation, recalling my theatrical acquaintance's concerns. To be sure, there is a static quality to $e production, which is staged in a deliberate and calculated fashion. But this doesn't mean that the opera fails dramatically, or that the singers can't act. Isabel Bayrakdarian as Cleopatra fairly steals the show with her seductive, feline interpretation of her character. Also dramatically effective is Daniel Taylor as a particularly slimy Tolomeo, Cleopatra's rival for the throne of Egypt. As for Podles, it can:t be denied that when she struts around as Julius Caesar her portrayal of masculinity is exaggerated. Also, her movements seem limited to a few stock poses -,a hand pressed to her · forehead to denote anguish, a raised arm to indicate resolve - and the way she bobs her head up and down when she sings tricky scale passages serves no dramatic purpose whatever. But if she doesn't act with her body, she acts with her voice. Even as she stands motionless, her rich contralto fills the theatre with a full gamut of e!Jlotions: love, hatred, 'anger, sorrow, pride, and many more that are not so easily labeled. · Unfortunately, there are some opera singers out there who can't act with their voices or their bodies: they simply have no dramatic resources to draw upon. And when these half-trained folk take to the stage, it's only to be expected that opera-goers - especially opera-goers who have a knowledge of modern spoken theatre - will judge them inadequate. In such instances I would agree with my theatrical friend when he remarks, "You can't get away with that, these days." Nmyadays, opera singers are increasingly s1,1bject to the expectation that they will have some dramatic ability, and many are acquiring the "realistic" style of spo.ken theatre (especially in North America). And as more singers augment their vocal studies with drama lessons, opera is inevitably influenced by contemporary play-acting, film and television. 'There's nothing wrong with that- but whatever forces influence the dramatic aspects of opera, it will always be intrinsically different from · non-musical theatre. As this splendid Julius Caesar reminds us, opera is first and foremost a musical art-form - unapologetically "artificial" and firmly based on its own traditions. (This point see!Jls to have been well understood by the 3 ,200 people who gave the performance an enthusiastic standing ovation.) Criticizing opera fo( being "unrealistic" makes about as much sense as criticizing a Japanese Noh drama for being unlike a Hollywood movie. ' CAROL WE LS MAN With special guest The Mississauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble THURS., MAY 16 8 P.M. //.50 _

CLASSICAL Co\l\IE'ff QUODLIBE.T by Allan Pulker The TSO hosts the Rozhdestvenskys performing with choirs that needed a small orchestra. It can be heard in One of the benefits of a resident, full- that role on May 5 with the Toronto time, professional symphony orches- Classical Singers and on May 11 train town is its guests! High-cali: with the Burlington Civic Chorale. bre visitors help keep us in touch with About three years ago McGeer the best that is going on elsewhere. and Sylvester realized the .ensem­ Two such artists will be joining the ble's autonomous potential, and be­ Toronto Symphony Orchestra May gan producing a Talisker concert 15 and 16: conductor, Gennady and series. Their last concert this seaviolinist, Alexander Rozhdest- son, oii May 14, is a good example vensky. Now in his early seventies, of the artistic vision and leadership Gennady Rozhdestvensky studied , of these two musicians. Titled "The conducting with his father Nikolai Plaih Sense of Things", it is built Anosov, and piano _with Lev Oborin around the theme of the poetry and at the Moscow Conservatory. prose of American poets. It features While conductor of the Bolshoi two commissioned works, one by Theatre Orchestra in the late 1960's Canadian composer Alexander he conducted the Russian premieres Rapoport and one by the young of Britten's A Midsii.mmer Night's American composer, Daniel Wade. Dream and Khatchaturian 's The program also includes a major Spartacus, and the Bolshoi premiere work, The Rewaking, by American of Prokoviev 's War and Peace. As composer, John Harbison, Six Songs Artistic Director of the Bolshoi for Soprano and. Siring Quartet by Theatre - both ballet and opera com- James Rolfe (premiered by panies - in 2000-2001 - he conducted Soimdstreams last season) and The the '>VOrld premiere of Prokoviev's Fall of the Leafby Eugen Weigel; an opera, The Gambler. American who emigrated to Canada Here he will conduct his son, Al- in 1972. exander, and the TSO in a perform- There will also be readings from ance of Alfred Schnittke's Violin First Loves, a collection of essays Concerto. by contemporary poets about the poems that first inspired them. The singers will be baritone, Doug Talisker The Talisker Players is a Unique ensemble that was formed about seven COC's production last month of MacNaughton, who appeared in the years ago by violist, Mary McGeer Alexina Louie's The Scarlet Princess, and soprano, Mehgan Atchi­ and violinist, Valerie Sylvester, to perform with singers. For the first son, whose recent performances include singing several roles in the few years of its life it specialized in new --==-~."?.-=~ CHINESE ARTISTS SOCIETY Of TORONTO ~ ;~~~""'~"1~'f·~ presents 3-time international competition winner and protege of the late Dorothy Delay Yi-Jia Hou, violin with Roh'an De Silva, piano Virtuosic works by Tartini, Kreisler, Ravel, Shostakovich & Sarasate Friday; May 24, 2002 at 8 pm Toronto Centre for the Arts 416-733-9388 Off Centre Music Salon's 2002-2003 Season Join us for another spectacular season of music and dialogue. Stewart Hamilton hosts our 8th • · season and joins pianists Boris Zarankin and · Inna Perkis m celebrating the composers, the Qf£Centre 1'.1usic and the prose of the Romantic Period all J J music salon . from a stage that recreates the intimate setting of the 18th century European salon. , Nov. 3, 2002 Dec. 1, 2002 Jan. 19,2003 Feb.23.2003 April 6, 2003 French Salon 'From the time of Marcel Proust': Olivier Laquerre, bass-baritone; Frederique Vezina, soprano;Jacques Israelievitch, violin. Our Holiday Presentation 'Waltzing through December with Tchaikovsky': Krisztina Szabo, mezzo soprano; Martha Guth, soprano; Erika Raum, violin; Mihai Tete!, cello. German Salon 'Madness and Genius': Susan Platts, mezzo-soprano. ' Annual Schubertiad 'Our 8th': Michael Colvin, tenor performing "Die Schone Mullerin." Musical Duels 'The Titans face off/': James Westman, baritone; Elizabeth MacDonald, soprano. All of our concerts are presented Sunday afternoons at 2:30 p.m. at the Glenn Gould Studio in the Canadian Broadcasting Centre, 250 Front Street West. Subscription Prices: Adult - 0.00 Senior - 0.00 Student - 0.00 Service Charge $ 7 .50 per subscription Off Centre .Music .Salon 968 Logan Ave. Toronto, Ontario M4K 3E5 Tel: (416) 466-1870 Visit our Website: Women's Musical Club of Toronto presents its 1 osth season of Daedalus String Quartet Thurs. Oct. 24, 2002 Gallois-Jackson-Swan Trio Thurs. Nov. 14, 2002 sponsor: WMCT Centennial Foundation Katherine Chi, piano Thurs. Dec. 12, 2002 Mezzo-Soprano Cathe,rine Robbin Celebra~ing a great career Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet Thurs. Jan. 23, 2003 Thurs. Mar. 20, 2003 All concerts are held at 1.30 p:m. in Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building, 80 Queen's Park, (Museum Subway Station). · Free lectures for members precede the concerts at 12.15 p.m. Five-concert series: 0.00 ("early bird" price) After May 31 n: 5.00 For tickets and information call: 416-923-7052 May 1 - June 7 2002 11

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