7 years ago

Volume 14 - Issue 6 - March 2009


BEAT BY BEAT: ON OPERAOpera Freshly Squeezed andWell Agedby Christopher HaileTH1s MARCH, the emphasis is clearly on contemporary Canadianopera. There are five on offer: four as part of Tapestry New OperaWork's annual Opera to Go, plus the world premiere of CharlesWilson's Kamouraska.Tapestry's Opera to Go has a special "Press Opening and CommunityNight" on March 26 at theLiving Arts Centre in Mississauga,followed by its regular run March27-29 at the Enwave Theatre atHarbourfront. All four works areconducted by Wayne Strongman anddirected by Tom Diamond, and allinvolve a troupe of five well-knownsingers in various groupings. Thisyear the troupe consists of sopranoSally Dibblee, countertenor ScottBelluz, tenor Keith Klassen, mezzosopranoKrisztina Szab6 and baritonePeter McGillivray.The first half of the evening is devoted to three short operas. Thefirst is The Virgin Charlie by William Rowson to a libretto byTaylor Graham. Labelled "a dark comedy in retro musical theatreform," the opera concerns the drag performer Charlie, who has anunexpected visitation from Virgin Mary. The second work, OneLump or Two, by Glenn James and librettist Sandy Pool, concernsfour ladies who want to poison their husbands and meet over tea toplan the deed. The third short opera is My Mother's Ring, byStephen Andrew Taylor to a libretto by Marcia Johnson. Here, thecentral character is convinced that two strangers are posing as hisparents.The second half of the evening comprises a full one-act opera,The Perfect Screw, by Abigail Richardson to a libretto by AlexisDiamond. This is the duo's second opera together having writtenSanctuary Song, which premiered at last year's Luminato Festival.This work, described as "a comic allegory filled with doubleentendre and innuendo," deals with the race between American andCanadian inventors, who both hope that their screwdriver willbecome the industry standard. Opera to Go invariably provides uswith an exciting glimpse into the future of Canadian opera. Fromthese four works we can see definite leaning toward comedy, and aninterest in the possibilities of the countertenor voice. For ticketsphone 416-973-4000 or visit For moreinformation visit Theatre presentsA New Puppet Musicalfor the whole fami ly, ages 3 & up!March 16-21, 3pm162 Bloor St.W, @Ave. Rd(Church of the Redeemer)Tickets/Info: - www.suitcasetheatre.comor 416-913-3992The same weekend that Opera to Go winds up, March 28-29,Opera in Concert presents the world premiere of Charles Wilson ' sKamouraska , composed in 1974-75 to his own libretto and based onAnne Hebert's 1970 novel. The opera depicts the life in 19th-centuryrural Quebec of Elizabeth d' Aulnieres, her marriage to AntoineTassy, his violent murder and her passion for the American doctorGeorge Nelson. The twelve-member cast includes such singers asMiriam Khalil, James McLennan and Alexander Dobson. Alex Paukconducts the Esprit Orchestra.Kamouraska had a first reading in Toronto in the 1970s, but nothingcame of it. Opera in Concert discovered the score in 2004 andapproached Wilson to revive the work, preciptitating a completerewrite of the opera. OiC will present the English version of therewrite. (Wilson also wrote aFrench version to take into accountthe different rhythmic patterns ofthe language.) This, OiC's firsteverworld premiere, will takeplace at the Jane Mallett Theatre .Phone 416-366-7723 or 1-800-708-6754 for tickets or visitwww for moreinformation.Two final notes: First, the Uof T Opera Division will present aRavel double-bill March 5-8 ofL 'Heure espagnole (1911) andL'Enfant et Les sortileges (1925). Second, TrypTych was to present aworkshop production of Marc Richard's new opera, Hamlet, March18-22, but that has now been postponed to June 24-29.'& ~ =d ,h, /,-/'"" C,"odM, So,/'

BEAT BY BEAT: BANDSTAND & PODIUMOn the state of community music groupsby Jack MacQuarrieTwo disparate recent events prompt these ruminations. The first isthe massive downturn of the global economy with its inevitable adverseeffect on disposable income. The second was the receipt in themail of an excellent biography. The book, In The Firing Line byToronto author Wallace L. Court, is a biography with a difference.It chronicles the life of noted Salvation Army composer, ColonelBramwell Coles.Recession woes led us to wondering what effect this financial situationmight have on the health of community musical groups. In thetough times projected for the foreseeable future, will band and orchestramembers curtail their participation to save money, or willthey turn more to this form of recreation.As for the biography of Bramwell Coles, many of its episodesprompted us to ponder the effect the brass band movement had oncommunity music making. The invention of valves for brass instrumentsin the early part of the 19th century spawned a whole new erafor community music, because the entire family of brass instrumentshad now achieved fully chromatic melodic capabilities. Founded inthe 1870s, by the turn of the century the Salvation Army had establishedits presence in 50 countries. In the early days of the SalvationArmy, a significant part of their ministry involved taking their evangelisticmessage to the people in the streets. Where they had previouslyrelied on songsters for music, the versatility, durability andportability of these new valved brass instruments provided the opportunityto take their instrumental music into the streets in less thanideal weather conditions. By the dawn of the 20th century there werehundreds of Salvation Army bands throughout Britain.Almost simultaneously we saw the formation of company bandsthroughout the British Isles. Almost without exception, these Britishworks bands were all brass bands. With such all brass instrumentationand common notation, where all of the instruments are scored inthe treble clef, it was easy to provide inexpensive uniform group instructionto all band members. While these bands were originally establishedas company sponsored recreational outlets for employees,they grew in stature to the point where the top company bandssought potential band members and found employment for themwithin the company. It was not long before the company band phenomenonspread to Europe and North America.One of the most notable of these in Canada was the band of theAnglo-Canadian Leather Company in Huntsville, Ontario. In 1918,Herbert L. Clarke, usually considered the world's greatest cornetvirtuoso of his era, was lured to Huntsville to conduct and train thatcompany's band. For that he was reportedly paid, what was then, the~ohii,/!;!j'.;f,;, 1&A,~mtai{ll;o,&~

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