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Volume 17 Issue 3 - November 2011

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(BECKWITH) Andre

(BECKWITH) Andre LeducNovember’sContrastschRISTOPhER hOILENovember offers those in Torontoand vicinity a chance to see theCanadian premiere of a new Scottishopera with a Canadian connection, andthe revivals of seldom-seen American andCanadian operas. This is a further demonstration,if anyone needed one, of howvital such companies are in maintainingthe diversity of Toronto’s opera scene.First to appear, on November 10, 11and 12, is Pub Operasby Scottish composerGareth Williams, to alibretto by Canadian DavidBrock. The two met in2009 at Tapestry NewOpera’s LibLab, Tapestry’scomposer/librettistincubator, and the projectgrew out of that meeting.The opera premieredearlier this year in July,at Sloan’s Bar in Glasgowas part of the MerchantCity Festival. The venuewas no quirk becausePub Operas was writtenspecifically to celebrate thehistory of Sloan’s, whichis Glasgow’s oldest pub,having been founded in1797. The libretto, aboutlife’s cycle of love, marriage, birth anddeath, is based on letters sent in by thepublic for whom Sloan’s played a realrole at key points in their lives.For the performance, the ErnestBalmer Studio in the DistilleryDistrict will substitute for Sloan’s. The singers will be XinWang, Heather Jewson, James McLean and Benjamin Coveywith Wayne Strongman leading a six-piece band. Sue Minerdirects. For more information about the opera, visit www.tapestrynewopera.com; and for the history of Sloan’s visitwww.sloansglasgow.com.Also playing on November 11 and 12 will be the Torontopremiere of the 1989 opera Crazy to Kill by John Beckwithto a libretto by James Reaney. Toronto Masque Theatre willmount this production of “Canada’s first detective opera” atthe Enwave Theatre starring singers Kimberly Barber, DougMcNaughton and Shannon Mercer and actors Brendan Walland Ingrid Doucet. The work, scored for piano and percussion,wiill feature Greg Oh as pianist and conductor and Ed Reifel aspercussionist. David Ferry will direct.The story for the libretto comes from the 1941 novel of thesame title by Ann Cardwell (pseudonym of Jean Makins Pawley)that is still in print. It concerns Detective Fry who, with thehelp of “model patient” Agatha Lawson, investigates a series ofmurders at Elmhurst, a private mental asylum for the wealthy inSouthwestern Ontario. Reaney has stated that it was reading thisnovel that inspired him to become a writer. The commission (fromthe Edward John Music Foundation and Billie Bridgman for theGuelph Spring Festival) limited the cast to three singers and twoactors. To get around these constraints Reaney had the idea ofgiving Agatha the habit of making life-sized doll puppets, eighteenin all, who, manipulated by the performers, also portray charactersat Elmhurst. After a workshop at Banff in 1988, the one-act operapremiered at the Guelph Spring Festival on May 11, 1989, withJean Stilwell as Agatha, Paul Massel as Fry and Sharon Crowtheras Mme Dupont, an Elmhurst patient. For more information visitwww.torontomasquetheatre.com. Also note that the fall editionof Opera Canada includes an article adapted from a chapter fromUnheard Of: Memoirs of a Canadian Composer by John Beckwith,to be published in 2012 that deals with the background of Crazy toKill and other of his operas of the period.On November 23 and 26, Operaby Request (OBR) and EnsembleTrypTych (ET) co-produce thefirst Canadian performance of TheSaint of Bleecker Street by GianCarlo Menotti. The 1954 opera hadits Canadian premiereat the University ofBritish Columbia in the1980s, but as far as OBRartistic director WilliamShookhoff can determine,has not had a full performancein Canada sincethen. OBR and ET chosethe opera in consultationwith the performers tocelebrate the centenary ofthe birth of the composer.OBR traditionally doesone choral opera perseason with the Universityof Toronto ScarboroughConcert Choir, and asthis is Menotti’s onlychoral opera it fit the bill.Besides, this seldom-heardopera provides somethingTop, clockwise: Sloan’s Bar inmore out of the way thanGlasgow; opera puppets; composer The Medium (1946) or TheJohn Beckwith; and inside Sloan’s.Consul (1950).Bleecker Street, which won the 1955 PulitzerPrize for Music and the New York Drama CriticsCircle Award for Best Musical, is set in New YorkCity’s Little Italy, where a young woman namedAnina manifests the stigmata and begins to seeangels. A conflict develops between her atheistbrother Michele, who thinks she needs medicalattention, and the neighbourhood which regards heras a saint. Shookhoff says, “As with The Consul,there is a timelessness to it which resonates particularlywith younger participants, as it does with all ofus: the conflict between tradition and new surroundings;between faith and rationale; and the stigma ofrelationships which go against the norm.”The work will be performed in concert with Shookhoff aspianist on November 23 at the University of Toronto ScarboroughCampus and on November 26 at Trinity Presbyterian York Mills.Deena Nicklefork will sing Anina and Avery Krisman will singMichele with six other soloists rounding out the cast. For more visitwww.operabyrequest.ca.Christopher Hoile is a Toronto-based writer on opera andtheatre. He can be contacted at opera@thewholenote.com.18 thewholenote.comNovember 1 – December 7, 2011

Wade KellyBeat by Beat / In With the NewTo the NNNth DegreeDAVID PERLMANOnce upon a time, we regularly ran, alongside this column, acompanion piece called New Music QuickPicks. The idea ofQuickPicks was to give the new music aficionado a filteredlist of all the concerts that might be of interest. But since theseQuickPicks consisted of short form listings only (i.e. date, time,presenter name, concert title), one still had to go to the main listingsfor the details if something in the QuickPicks caught one’s eye. Itwas very handy, but also very irritating when the main listing inquestion turned out to be only of passing interest.So we built in a rating system: NNN before a listing meant thatnew music was the main event (usually with a live composer or twoin attendance). NN meant new music was not the main thrust butwas of more than passing interest. And N meant, well … that wasthe problem. What did N mean? Did it mean there was a work ofBritten’s on the programme, so you should come to pay homage tothe pioneer? Or did it mean that the 10-minute contemporary workright before the intermission had actually been commissioned a fewyears back and/or had already been played more than twice?That was the problem: the N’s started out as a time saving device;once they became viewed as a comment on the worth of events theylost their utility. It’s a pity, though, because at each of these threelevels of intensity, N to NNN, so much is happening this month, andall of it plays its part: keeping composers busy, and enabling playersand audiences to break new sonic ground.Starting with the Ns: Born inNewmarket, Ontario, John Estaciohas single works on two differentupcoming symphonic programmes:Friday November 4, the Universityof Western Ontario SymphonyOrchestra plays his Variationson a Memory; Wednesday,November 9, Symphony on theBay plays his Frenergy.Frenergy’s highest profileperformance in our catchment areawas with the Toronto SymphonyOrchestra September 26, 2009 —the season opener with violinistJoshua Bell. “The concertopened with John Estacio’sFrenergy,”wrote The Globe andMail, “a splashy short work full ofJohn Estacio.propulsive rhythms and dramatic flourishes that should have tippedus off, when the piece was new in 2003, to Estacio’s future careeras an opera composer. Somebody should use it for a film score.”And of Estacio as an opera composer (Filumena and Frobisher)arts writer Paula Citron, also in The Globe, wrote “If ever acontemporary opera deserved a shelf life, Filumena is the one.”There are several other noteworthy single new works on upcomingprogrammes. Abigail Richardson-Schulte’s “Crossings” for cello andpiano in four movements (2011) will be performed by Rachel Mercerand Angela Park at a Les Amis concert, Tuesday November 8 at theToronto Heliconian Club, along with works by Mahler, Mozart andBrahms. Saturday December 3, East York Choir’s Winter Solstice:Seasonal 25th Anniversary Celebration features a world premiere byStephen Hatfield. Sunday November 6, Antonín Kubálek Projects’Music for Anton features a premiere — Daniel Foley’s Music forthe Duke of York. Thursday November 17, at Music Toronto, TheGryphon Trio includes the Ontario premiere of Calgary-basedWilliam Jordan’s Owl Song in their programme, between Beethovenand under-performed late nineteenth century Russian composerAnton Arensky … The list goes on.“PROMETHEAN TALENT…DAZZLING VIRTUOSITY” — NEW YORK TIMESChristinaPetrowska QuilicoCanadian Piano Concerti recordings on Centrediscs*New* TAPESTRIESGeorge Fiala: Concerto CantataCanadian Ukrainian Opera Chorus/Wolodymyr Kolesnyk, conductorHeather Schmidt: Piano Concerto No. 2Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Warren, conductorECLIPSE: Music of David Mott“…Mott evoked the spirit of McCoy Tyner in themidst of memories of Taiko drumming, tablariffing, melodic vocalize and suling-like flutelines and Christina Petrowska Quilico made itall work.” — The WholeNote Magazine3 CONCERTIBy Violet Archer, Larysa Kuzmenko &Alexina Louie | Juno nomination for bestclassical composition (Kuzmenko)“Essential listening” — MusicWeb International“★★★★… stunning quality” — La Scena MusicaleTO VIEW & ORDER Christina Petrowska Quilico’scomplete discography, please visitwww.petrowskaquilico.comthursday nov. 10CENTREDISCS30 CENTREDISQUESpop avant series • co-presented with theGoethe Institut Toronto and the Istituto Italiano di Cultura7pm • regular • member • adv rt/ss/twNovember 1 – December 7, 2011 thewholenote.com 19

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Volume 25 Issue 5 - February 2020
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