7 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 4 - December 2005

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ation" by mezzo-soprano

ation" by mezzo-soprano Fides Krucker in collaboration with dancer Dan Wild with words from poet Helen Humphreys' first novel "Wild Dogs" (2004), where, according to TPM, "a cabin in the woods becomes an arena for intimacy and instinct". See www. On Sunday, January 8, New Music Concerts presents the Canadian premiere of the Icelandic chamber opera "Grettir" by Thorkell Sigurbjornsson with a five-member cast drawn from the Bayreuth Youth Festival, who premiered the work in 2004. The English­ language libretto, based on the 14- century "Saga of Grettir the Strong", focusses on Thorsteinn Dromund, who has gone to Constantinople to avenge the death of his outlaw brother Grettir only to be placed in prison where he acts out his brother's story. For more information see On Sunday, January 29, Opera in Concert presents a baroque rarity in the form of "La Griselda" (1735) by Antonio Vivaldi. The plot taken from Boccaccio's "Decameron" tells of a husband's extreme testing of his wife's fidelity. The production features Colin Ainsworth, Carla Huhtanen, Lynne McMurtry and Marion Newman. Kevin Mallon conducts the Aradia Ensemble. For more information see TOT's 2003-04 Season production of DIE FLEDERMAUS by Johann Strauss with Mark DuBois as Alfred and Guillermo Silva-Marin as Frosch. DuBois returns in "Wiener Blut". Silva-Marin directs. Then on from January 29 to February 12 comes the end of the world, "Gotterdammerung", the Twilight of the Gods. Michael Levine is again the designer. The director this time is Tim Albery, who recently directed "Rodelinda" and "Peter Grimes" for the COC and the entire Ring Cycle for Scottish Opera. Frances Ginzer returns as Brunnhilde, Christian Franz as Siegfried and Richard Paul Fink as Alberich. Other singers from "Siegfried" return in different roles. Mette Ejsing who sang Erda will play the First Norn and Laura Whalen who sang the Forest Bird will play one of the three Rheinmaidens. Richard Bradshaw conducts. The running time is approximately 5 hours and 30 minutes with two intermissions. For more information see www OPERA at Home by Phil Ehrensaft Mary Had a Baby Paul Robeson's Spirituals and John Adams' El Nifio African-American churches became musical wombs for, first, the creation of spirituals that are an ur-source for contemporary American music. Then, within the engj forced confines of racial ~ segregation formal and ~ informal, this folk form ~ was transformed into art O music of the highest or­ ~ der. The closest parallel rf. is Jewish cantorial music, where a segregated out-group independently created vocal techniques that shared many characteristics with voices from the golden age of opera. German lieder provide the parallel to African-America's vocal art music. Its most characteristic form was a duet of singer and pianist. During the first decades of the twentieth century, a series of very impressive performers took their African-American lieder out of the ghetto onto concert stages and into recording studios. The principal pioneers were Roland Hayes, John Payne, Marion Anderson, and that force of nature, Paul Robeson. Robeson's father was an exslave who had courageously escaped from Southern bondage to relative freedom in the North. He was a Presbyterian minister in New Jersey, married to a school teacher, when Paul was born in 1898. The Robesons realized early on that Paul was a wunderkind. He grew up in a household preaching the black self-help gospel that education and working three times as hard as anyone else would bring the walls of segregation down. He also received musical training in his father's church. The young Paul Robeson pursued the American dream with a vengeance: the top of his class at Rutgers and All-America football player to boot; then Columbia University Law School; and the first African-American hired by a major New York law firm. One of the firm's stenographers refused to take dictation "from a nigger," and the firm allowed her to get away with it. Robeson concluded that he was ready for the big league in American law, but American law was not ready for him. Robeson turned to the theatre and concert stage. His performance of Othello established Robeson as one of the great Shakespearian actors of his time. Between 1925 and 1936, Robeson & Suoir'sAngelica FebS,II,!7, Pergolesi's 22, 25 ]:3opm Maid Becomes Mistress r b (La Serva Padrona) •c 1 9 2 :oopm I )oublc Bill: Sin Redeemed & Uppity Help For more information caU (416) 698-9572 Bickford Centre T hc-atrc 777 Bloor St W (TTC C h1istic) Student Senior Adult Acccs~i~'ic9cf+2 1 ' 1 O t. M hS& TORONTO p\us. pera 1c arc 9 r, PE RA Free, Fun Excerpts 7:3opm REPE RTOIRE D ECEMB ER 1 2005 - F EBRUARY 7 2006

took the songs of his people into recording studios in New York and London, usually in the company of pianist Lawrence Brown. Their 78s were best-sellers on both sides of the Atlantic. Combined with their concert appearances, they became world emissaries of African­ American art songs. And those of many other nations as well. What explained Robeson's power to reach the ears and hearts of people on all continents and of all faiths? The singing flows with such ease that it seems like a direct gift from nature. This is both true and false . Like Robert Merrill, Robeson was indeed endowed with an exceptional instrument. But Robeson was a prodigiously hard worker and master actor. The "naturalness" was achieved by thorough control . Hard experience and refusal to bow are the other elements . There' s a direct link between his Presbyterian father's eye on the prize of freedom a' coming, and Robeson's eventual emergence as a leading voice of the international left. That stage of Robeson's life reinforced his respect for black Christianity's thirst for freedom, and his pride in the psychological insights of his people's songs. Robeson's defiance also occasioned a very proud moment in Canadian history. His career was purposefully destroyed by the U.S. government during America's most brutal witch-hunt. Robeson's passport was revoked at the same time that McCarthyism made it virtually impossible for him to perform in the U.S. In 1952, the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers invited Robeson to speak and sing at its convention in Vancouver. The U.S. government indicated that it would jail Robeson for five years if he crossed the border into Vancouver. A sound system was set up on the American side of the Peace Arch crossing. Robeson performed for 35,000 Canadians on the other side of the great divide Naxos has reissued 23 of the magisterial 1925-37 Robeson recordings, beautifully restored by Peter Dempsey. (Naxos 8. 120638) This is some of the finest vocal music ever recorded, period. "Mary Had a Baby" is a gem among African-American spirituals. The Robeson-Brown performance is a gem of gems. Given the season, the Robeson "Mary" brought immediate associations with John Adams' and Peter D EC EMB ER 1 2005 - F EBRUARY 7 2006 Sellars' path-breaking contemporary opera on Mary's pregnancy and Christ's birth, El Niiio.(ArtHaus/Naxos 100 221) El Nino is like no opera you've seen and heard, and that is a good thing. It mingles staging and a film projected onto a large screen. The film follows a modern Latino Joseph and Mary as they seek lodging and safety in the struggling immigrant neighbourhood of Los Angeles. If you think that a Mary with four pierced earrings couldn't be beatific, think again. The shimmering music is by a minimalist who's declared himself bored with minimalism. Adams and Sellars crafted the libretto from the Bible, Latin verses, and contemporary Latin American poetry. The singing is mostly in English but can shift into Latin or Spanish. Dance is integral to Sellars staging. Adams and Sellars tell the story of Christ's birth from the perspective of both a pregnant Mary and God's decision to create sexuality and the pain of childbirth as punishment for partaking of fruit from the tree of knowledge. There are four principals: soprano Dawn Upshaw, mezzo Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, baritone Willard White, and dancer Daniela Graca. They shift roles and switch to narration. The wise men are counter-tenors from the Hilliard Ensemble. It's weird and truly wonderful. Adams' love for jazz is evident in the strong pulse that drives absolutely gorgeous music. The DVD, one of the most skilfully filmed operas I've viewed, captures a live 2000 performance at the Theatre Musical de Paris-Chatelet. The audience goes rightly bananas after the finale. El Nino deserves a place under the Christmas tree of all who love opera. We are ALL Music's Children December's Child .... "By George! That's a fine motor car!" Photo taken in Boston, Lincolnshire, England, 1925 And for those of you who enjoy the challenge of a different kind of clue, you will find our child's first and last names at the Pilot Tavern (see jazz listings). Definitely not seated together, though. . Identify this ever-active and beloved member of our music community for a chance to win tickets, a WholeNote gift subscription, or a recording. Think you know? Send your best guess to (Winners will be selected by random draw among entries received by January 15th, 2006.) November's Child .... was Karina Gauvin ~ Canadian soprano Karina ~ Gauvin, whose unique voice, o.. remarkable technique, and accomplished musicianship, now delights audiences and colleagues worldwide, was born in Montreal and attended Etienne-Brule high school in Toronto. She recalls her very first experience of the opera world performing in Tosca, while a member of the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus. "It was a very exciting time. It was my first time in a big 'adult' production. I was impressed with the singers ... with their 'big' personalities, the size and magic of the theatre, the sets, the costumes. 1 remember taking the subway all the way to Front Street station and skipping all the way to the theatre singing my part over and over again. It made me feel completely giddy inside. " Things started to get serious at McGill University. Someone told young Karina, studying art history, that she should become a professional singer. After graduating at the Montreal Conservatory of Music where she studied with Marie Daveluy, she continued her studies at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music (Glascow) with Pamela Bowden. Recent CD releases include Ariadne by Georg Conradi (singing the title role) with the Boston early music festival Orchestra on the CPO label; Hyver (French Baroque Cantatas) with les Boreades de Montreal on the ATMA classique label; and Tito Manlio (singing the title role) by Antonio Vivaldi with Academia Byzantina, Ottavio Dantone conducting, on the na"ive label. Karina Gauvin will sing Bach Christmas Cantatas with Les Violons du Roy December 16 at 8pm, at Roy Thomson Hall; and will return for Mozart: A Life in Letters, developed by Michael Schade, January 26 , again at RTH. And our winner ... "I' m going to have to say Karina Gauvin - one of my favourites!" Caroline Bonner and a guest are invited to hear Karina perform Bach Christmas Cantatas with Les Violons Du Roy at Roy Thomson Hall on December 16th. CONGRATULATIONS Caroline! WWW. TH EWHOLEN OTE. COM 35

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