7 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 2 - October 2011

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The New OldFrom

The New OldFrom October 29 to November 5, Opera Atelier premieres itsnew production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Phillip Addis singsthe title role with Carla Huhtanen as Zerlina, Vasil Garvanlievas Leporello, Peggy Kriha Dye as Donna Elvira and MeghanLindsay as Donna Anna. Italian conductor Stefano Montanari leadsthe Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Marshall Pynkoski directs.During an extensive telephone interview with Pynkoski, I raisedthe question, “What can be called ‘new’ in a period production?” Inanswer, he had much to sayabout Opera Atelier’s goalsand what a period productionis:“By period productionwe’re not talking about amuseum. We’re not talkingabout reproducing somethingsomeone did at an earliertime. We could do that if wewanted to, and at times wedo, but when we say ‘periodproduction’ we mean weare taking elements of everydiscipline involved in theCHRISTOPHER HOILEproduction — the acting style,the singing style, the dancingstyle, the orchestral playing— all of those things, not so that we can copy what they did inthe 18th century, but to see if there is anything that we’ve missed inthe past and anything that we’ve lost that will challenge us as artistsin the 21st century.”“Our goal is to be more linear. We want to be storytellers. We’regoing to follow the text and we’re going to try to figure out howto make it make sense. For example, we’re taking a look at whathappened in the early productions of Don Giovanni so that wecan challenge ourselves in a new way. Of course, we’ve done DonGiovanni before, but I think we’ve learned a great deal about itover the years. Initially, we were unable to build the productionwe wanted and had to cobble it together from what we had in stock.This is our first complete statement of what we’d like Don Giovannito be.”“The most important thing I want to get across is that it is a comedy.That doesn’t mean that there are no tragic or dark moments. AllOpera Atelier’s new Don Giovanni: Phillip Addis, Curtis Sullivanand members of the Atelier Ballet.catch our 2011|12 season!Rumours of Peace nov. 15 & 16, 2011 | 8 pmThe cost of human conflict, the hope for lasting peaceStarry Night jan. 31 & feb.1, 2012 | 8 pmOf sleep and dreams – the wonder and terror of the nightMuse of Fire apr. 17 & 18, 2012 | 8 pmWilliam Shakespeare, in words and musicwhere words & music meetgreat comedy has moments that are poignant. But what I have rightin front of me is a letter Andrew Parrott gave me, where Mozartrefers to Don Giovanni as an opera buffa. I don’t care if everyoneelse called it a dramma giocoso with an emphasis on the drama.Mozart called it an opera buffa and I’m following what he said,because I think it makes the opera absolutely make sense.”“I’m sick of seeing a Don Giovanni about a middle-aged Lothariowho hates woman and can’t achieve intimacy. It never makes sensebecause it means every woman on stage is insane. How exactly cana horrible, dirty old man be irresistible? On the other hand, we findthings amusing, even charming, in young people that we wouldfind reprehensible in middle age. Just think, the first Don wasunder 20. The second Don was under 25. Therefore I have to findsomeone like Phillip [Addis] who registers young, innocent, fresh,irresistible.”“Basically, Don Giovanni is Cherubino at age 25. He says all thesame things. He falls in love with every woman he sees. He doesn’thate women — he loves them. And women adore him. There hasto be something adorableabout him, but I have yet tosee a Don Giovanni whereI understand why womenlove him. To my mind DonGiovanni is the most innocentand the most honestman on stage. He’s a comiccharacter and everything onstage revolves around him.”“Anyone in the 18thcentury would have knownfrom the first scene thatwe’re in the world of theItalian commedia dell’artewith the servant, like aHarlequin, outside a tavernwho wants a drink but hasno money while his master is inside drinking. The design will not beas strongly commedia as it was last time. I think we made our point.Martha [Mann]’s costumes will be more Spanish but will still retainvery clear commedia touches.”“What makes it ‘new’ when talking about period is to say it’sa comedy and to discover what that means. It means we have tore-examine every character and fight the stereotypes that have beenbuilt up over the past hundred years or so. It’s a big challenge foreveryone, especially the singers, because they come in with so muchbaggage from other productions that we have to strip away.”“We’ve recently learned that in the original production theCommendatore and Mazetto were played by the same person withlittle time for a costume change at the finale. This immediatelytells us something about the opening. The Commendatore is notsome doddering old man who staggers around the stage before DonGiovanni kills him. He has a daughter, after all, who is probablytaliskerplayerschambermusicinfo:www.taliskerplayers.catickets:416.978-8849 | uofttix.ca26 thewholenote.comOctober 1 – November 7, 2011BRUCE ZINGER

17. Therefore he’s a vital, strong, dangerous middle-aged man. Ofcourse, the Don calls him ‘old’ as any young person would. As soonas you see that the duel at the beginning is thus more on an equalfooting, itchanges everything. It’s no longer the brutal murder of asenile old fool. Once we learned this we thought, ‘Let’s do it. Curtis[Sullivan] will play both roles. It’s a challenge, but we’re just doingwhat Mozart did.’”For tickets and more information visit Hoile is a Toronto-based writer on opera andtheatre. He can be contacted at’S MORE!For devotees of Music Theatre in its many forms, Atelier’s “DonGiovanni” won’t be the only event of interest this month.On the afternoon of Sunday October 2, Opera in Concert presentsa concert titled L’accordéoniste: Latin Heat with KimberlyBarber, mezzo; Peter Tiefenbach, piano; Carol Bauman,percussion; and Mary-Lou Vetere, accordion. The same day, at7:30pm, Solomon Tencer Productions presents An Evening atthe Opera at the Studio Theatre, Toronto Centre for the Arts.Monday October 10, 8pm, sees the opening of an extendedrun of Art of Time Ensemble’s “I Send You This Cadmium Red,”an evening of theatre, dance and music, exploring correspondencebetween artist John Berger and filmmaker John Christie.Wednesday October 12 at noon Canadian Opera Company/Queen of Puddings Music Theatre showcase Ana Sokolovic’snew a cappella opera “Svadba — The Wedding.”Wednesday October 19 at 7:30pm Opera Belcanto’s “Cav/Pag” double bill kicks off a two-night stand at the RichmondHill Centre for the Performing Arts.Friday October 21 at 7:30pm, Opera By Request presentsHandel’s “Orlando” at College Street United Church; MarkhamTheatre for Performing Arts has Isabel Bayrakdarian in recitalat 8pm; and also at 8pm at St. John’sYork Mills AnglicanChurch is What They Did For Love, the debut concert of a newlyformed opera ensemble, Opera Rouge.Sunday October 23 brings Zarzuela Gold from TorontoOperetta Theatre, an opening gala concert; the same day, theUniversity of Toronto Faculty of Music’s perennially popularOpera Tea features a Menotti Double Bill in celebration of the100th anniversary of the composer’s birth.Saturday October 29 sees not only the start of the aforementionedAtelier “Don Giovanni,” but also what might bedescribed as the “final return” of “Two Pianos Four Hands,”Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt’s musical comedy. about,what else, music.Thursday November 3 and Saturday November 5 OperaYork’s Madama Butterfly is on the boards at Richmond HillCentre for the Arts. Friday November 4 Opera By Requestpresents Massenet’s “Herodiade.”Details on all these, and more can be found in the listings.Life is a CabaretOld ChumsYes, toronto brimswith many breedsof live music, asthis magazine makescrystal clear. But truthbe told, this questionbears reflection: Canour city, recentlynamed the planet’sninth most expensivecity to live in, sustaina venue devoted exclusivelyto cabaret? Andis it really the ticketprice, usually comparableto catching a flick,that keeps audiencesaway? Or, is it thatlistening rooms requirelistening patrons?Whatever the reasons,thankfully, presenterskeep trying. Thebrand new Green DoorBeat by Beat / In the ClubsORI DAGANGreen Door Cabaret: Mark Selbyaccompanies Gabi Epstein atthe Green Door Cabaret.Cabaret at the Lower Ossington Theatre is hoping to be around for along time. Robert Missen, artistic director, is working hard to preserve,celebrate and cultivate an audience for this unique art form.“Cabaret has an intimacy,” says Missen, “and there’s an elementof story-telling to the singing which is different from a regularconcert. And of course, if you look at the various historical forms ofcabaret, you can make the argument that it can be a very interestingtool for political satire or the promotion of certain kinds of humouror music. Since my background training is as a classical singer, Iliken it to singing lieder, which is another endangered species oflive performance.”On the challenges of this new venture, Missen is quick toacknowledge the financial limitations on all sides of the equation:“This is a very bare bones operation … I am not getting paid anysalary for this, I get a small slip of the door. The theatre also takescontinued on page 49ORI DAGANELECTRIFYING EXPERIENCESMost Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdaysat noon or 5:30 416-363-8231MEDIA SPONSORSArabesque Dance, Photo: Chris HutchesonOctober 1 – November 7, 2011 27

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