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Volume 14 - Issue 9 - June 2009

The Children’s

The Children’s CrusadeLeads the Summer ParadeThe highlights of June are the worldpremieres of two ambitious Canadianoperas: the first a huge production by oneof the grand masters of Canadian music, thesecond by a recent University of Torontograduate. As the latest expressions of Canadiancontemporary opera, both demand tobe seen.The first to arrive in June is The Children’sCrusade by R. Murray Schafer, still aforce to be reckoned with at age 75. The operaco-commissioned by Soundstreams andLuminato will be presented June 5-11 in awarehouse at 153 Dufferin St. Schafer isrenowned for his 12-part environmentaloperatic cycle, Patria, performed inunconventional indoor and outdoor locations,most notably in the Haliburton Forest andWildlife Reserve. For the 90-minute Crusade,the audience will move through thewarehouse space along with the cast andmusicians, our journey paralleling theirs.Crusade is inspired by one of the twoChildren’s Crusades said to have occurredin the year 1212. According to legend, the12-year-old shepherd Stephen de Cloyesarrived in Paris claiming he had a letter forthe King of France from Jesus. The King rebuffedthe boy, but Stephen performed variousmiracles, gathered a crowd of 30,000followers and led them to the MediterraneanSea, convinced it would part as had theRed Sea for Moses. Modern historians nowbelieve that “The Children’s Crusade” was amedieval invention, but Schafer is interestedin the symbolism of the legend not its historicity.According to conductor David Fallis,Schafer focuses on the conflict between innocenceand idealism of the children versusthe cynicism of the adults. Lawrence Cherney,Soundstreams’ Artistic Director, callsThe Children’s Crusade Schafer’s “mostcompelling work yet,” since it “explores theinnocence and passion of children convincedthey could create a world of peace.”The work is written for 16 musiciansplaying a combination of modern, medievaland Middle Eastern instruments. It willfeature over 100 performers, including theToronto Consort, the Canadian Children’sOpera Chorus, an adult chorus andBy Christopher HoileTim Albery, director: “Murray’s written adream story - the journey of a child that hecalls the holy child, who meets a strange darkman, in the night in the middle of a storm,who gives him a letter for the king of Franceasking permission to travel. ... Like manydreams it takes strange byways and highways.There are temptations, characters who appearout of nowhere. And the audience follows thechild through the multiple rooms of this old1930s warehouse never knowing quite what’scoming next in the same way as the crusadingchildren never knows what’s coming next.They are all poor, all desperate, on a ridiculousjourney to conquer Jerusalem with love,not weapons. ... From a production point ofview, the logistics are just as scary: How onearth do we get from place to place?”dancers. Boy soprano Jacob Abrahamse singsthe Holy Child and Maryem Toller singsAriana, a Muslim woman who appears to theChild in visions. Actor Diego Matamorosplays four non-singing roles. Director TimAlbery, familiar with large-scale projects,having directed Wagner’s Götterdämmerungand Prokofiev’s War and Peace for the COC,stresses that Crusade is a modern work, nota medieval pageant, and will be presented inmodern dress.For more information about Soundstreamsand video interviews with Schafer, visitwww.soundstreams.ca. For tickets and furtherinformation about Luminato, visit www.luminato.com.On the cover: a parade of summer festival artistsCentre: Jacob Abrahamse, appearing in Soundstreams’ productionof R. Murray Schafer’s The Children’s Crusade. Bottom(clockwise): Nagata Shachu taiko drummers; Guy Few, corno dacaccia; Nadina Mackie Jackson, bassoon; Leipzig String Quartet;cast-members from last year’s Highland Opera Studio.PHOTO: IAN ARNOLD8 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM JUNE 1 - JULY 7, 2009

Mark Richards’ HamletEqually ambitious is 31-year-old Mark Richards’ passion to writean opera based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Richards, who receivedhis Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Torontoin 2007, has been writing the music and libretto for this full-lengthopera since 2004. It was given its first complete public reading atStratford Summer Music in 2008 where it was acclaimed by enthusiasticaudiences.TrypTych gives the piece its first complete staging on June 24,26, 27 and 29 at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 2737 Bayview Avenue,with Brett Kingsbury conducting and Edward Franko directing.Richards says that writing vocal music has always come naturallyto him: “When I finished my bachelor’s, I decided I needed a large,long-term project to help solidify my musical style and help findmy own compositional voice.” He chose Hamlet because he hasalways been passionate about the play and found that the emotions itinspired helped him to write the music. Richards’ goal was fidelityto Shakespeare’s text, although operatic form obviously necessitatedabridging the play and reducing the number of characters.Hamlet is written for seven singers with some doubling of roles,and comprises over 50 recitatives, arias, duets and ensembles. InStratford it had an eight-member chamber orchestra. In Toronto itwill have piano accompaniment – but, unlike Stratford, the singerswill be off-book and in character with Paul Williamson as Hamlet,Virginia Gallop-Evoy as Gertrude and Nathaniel Wiseman as Claudius.TrypTych has already expressed its desire to bring the operato a fully-staged and costumed production with orchestra in the nearfuture. For more information about the composer, including exceptsfrom Hamlet, visit www.markrichardscomposer.com. For moreabout TrypTych visit www.tryptych.org.ALSO HIGH QUALITYUSED STEINWAYSAVAILABLEFor an appointment to see and play Canada's largest selection(all models !) of new Mason & Hamlin grand pianos you are invitedto call 1-866-631-6696 or email willem@masonhamlin.ca Glionna Mansell CorporationExclusive Allen Organ Dealer for Ontario east to Port Hopewww.glionnamansell.com416-769-5224, toll free, 877-769-5224JUNE 1 - JULY 7, 2009 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM 9

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