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Volume 18 Issue 7 - April 2013

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  • April
  • Toronto
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half-brother Laca (Paul

half-brother Laca (Paul Williamson) loves Jenůfa and can’t understandher indifference to him. William Shookhoff is again the pianoaccompanist.1905: Salome by Richard Strauss on April 21 and 27 and May 1, 4,7, 10 16 and 22. For the first time since 2002, the COC revives AtomEgoyan’s acclaimed production of Richard Strauss’ shocker basedon Oscar Wilde’s one-act play. Erika Sunnegårdh sings the title role,Richard Margison is her dissolute father Herod, Hanna Schwarz is herstern mother Herodias and Martin Gantner (April 21 to May 4) andAlan Held (May 7 to 22) sing John the Baptist, the object of Salome’sdepraved desire. Johannes Debus conducts the COC Orchestra.1915: Goyescas by Enrique Granados (1867–1916) on April 29 andMay 1 and 2. Opera Five helps us fill in our knowledge of opera bypresenting a double bill of two one-act operas from Spain. The titleof Granados’ opera is best known as a piano suite reflecting variouspaintings by Francisco Goya. The composer was encouraged to turnthe suite into an opera and so, contrary to usual procedure, Granados’librettist had to write a libretto to fit the music. The story deals withtwo men, Fernando (Conrad Siebert) and Paquiro (Giovanni Spanu),who fight a duel over Rosario (Emily Ding), the woman they both love.Maika’i Nash is the music director and pianist and Aria Umezawa isthe stage director. Performances take place at Gallery 345.1922: Mavra by Igor Stravinsky on April 5 and 7. This rarely performedwork is part of Metro Youth Opera’s triple bill of comic operas.(The COC last performed it in 1965 on a double bill with Salome.)Based on a story by Pushkin, the opera tells how the young Parasha(Laura MacLean) tries to deceive her Mother (Sarah Hicks) by smugglingher lover Vassili (Jan Nato) into the house disguised as the newmaid “Mavra.” Alison Wong directs with Blair Salter at the piano.1923: El retablo de maese Pedro by Manuel de Falla on April 29 andMay 1 and 2. The second work on Opera Five’s Spanish double bill(see above) is a rarely performed one-act opera based on an episodefrom Don Quixote and usually translated as Master Peter’s PuppetShow. The opera focusses on the reactions of Don Quixote (GiovanniSpanu) to a puppet play presented by Pedro (Conrad Siebert) depictingCharlemagne’s adoptive daughter being abducted by Moors. As mightbe expected, Don Quixote cannot control his anger on viewing suchan outrage.1957: Dialogues des Carmélites by Francis Poulenc on May 8, 11, 14,17, 19, 21, 23 and 25. The COC’s final offering of the 2012/13 season isRobert Carsen’s production of this 20th-century masterpiece createdfor the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2007. Isabel Bayrakdarian starred asBlanche de la Force in Chicago and does so again in Toronto. Daughterof an aristocrat, Blanche decides to become a nun to escape the chaosof the French Revolution only to find herself caught up in it after shejoins the convent. The starry cast includes Judith Forst, AdriannePieczonka, Hélène Guilmette, Irina Mishura, Frédéric Antoun andJean-François Lapointe. Johannes Debus conducts the COC Orchestra.1961: Le magicien by Jean Vallerand (1915–94) on April 5 and 7.The third work on Metro Youth Opera’s triple bill is the rarest of all.It is the only opera by Québecois composer Vallerand, written forJeunesses Musicales as a curtain-raiser for their tour of Debussy’sL’Enfant prodigue. The libretto, also written by Vallerand, concerns amagician who brings the marionettes Colombine and Arlequin to lifeonly to find that they refuse to return to their former state. Thoughit was performed more than 100 times in the 1961–62 season andrecorded in by the CBC in 1967, it lapsed into obscurity until it wasrevived in concert in Montreal in 1989. MYO does us a great service ingiving us the chance to see it now.2013: Inspired by Lorca by Chris Paul Harman on April 30 is not anopera but a song cycle now titled La selva de los relojes (The Forest ofClocks) based on the poetry of Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. Iinclude it here because it is the last piece that the much-loved Queenof Puddings Music Theatre will produce before it dissolves at theend of August. Mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó is the soloist and QoPco-founder Dáirine Ní Mheadhra conducts a chamber ensemble ofpiano, harp, cello, flute and percussion. The performance takes placeat the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the Four Seasons Centreand is free.2013: Ruth by Jeffrey Ryan on May 4 only. This is a workshop performancegiven by Tapestry Opera (formerly Tapestry New Opera) ofRyan’s opera to a libretto by Michael Lewis MacLennan that reimaginesthe Biblical story as an immigrant tale about the struggle to findwelcome in a new country. The performance takes place at the ErnestBalmer Studio in the Distillery District.2013: The Lesson of Ja Di by Alice Ping Yee Ho on May 10, 11 and 12by Toronto Masque Theatre. The newest opera presented in this sixweekperiod is a world premiere written as a companion piece tothe oldest opera here, John Blow’s Venus and Adonis (above). Basedon a true story from the Shang dynasty (second millennium B.C.), ittells of the horrific revenge that a King wreaks on his concubine Da Jifor falling in love with her music teacher, the nobleman Bo Yi. LarryBeckwith conducts the TMT Orchestra on period instruments, augmentedon this occasion with traditional Chinese instruments such asthe erhu, pipa and guzheng.Enjoy the bounty on offer in these six weeks and create your ownopera festival.Christopher Hoile is a Toronto-based writer on opera andtheatre. He can be contacted at | April 1 – May 7, 2013

Beat by Beat | World ViewWhat in the World?ANDREW TIMAREvery issue, I wade through The WholeNote concert listings,picking out events that highlight aspects of “worldmusic”including its often conflicted identity, performance practice,instrumentation, genrefication, commercialization and reception.Some are easier to identify than others!A concert self-labelled as flamenco, as is Jorge Miguel’sconcert on April 17 at Lula Lounge, seemsfairly straightforward, for example.Likewise any concert tagged with arecognizable geographic locationoutside of the Euro-Americanmainstream or an establishedmusic genre with non-Westernor hybrid origins — like samba.But hold on, is the “West” notpart of the world? And whatabout mixed musical marriages,as exemplified by the April 28 concertby the Hungarian group Meszecsinka alsoAchilla Lula Lounge? They also accurately reflect the real worldwe travel through and listen to and serve to remind us ofthe engines of transformation working within every healthyculture to knock down the genres we so lovingly construct.Instrumentation, once a dead giveaway, can also beproblematic as a world music marker. For instance the nameof the Burmese instrument called the sandaya says more about themodal performance practices of Burmese music than the instrument,which is in fact a standard Western piano — or even these days perhapsan electronic keyboard. The Carnatic “mandolin” playing SouthIndian classical music is another case of repurposed terminology. It isactually a small solid body electric guitar adapted in its string tuningand popularized by the virtuoso U. Srinivas (b.1969). Similarly, theCarnatic “violinist” A. Kanyakumari often plays an electric violawhich is nevertheless called a violin in programs and albums. OnApril 19 Toronto audiences can witness one such piece of instrumentalrebranding at work at the Trinity-St.Paul’s Centre concert by VishwaMohan Bhatt. He plays the mohan veena, an Indianized slide guitar,the manner of playing it some argue being partly introduced to Indiaby Hawaiian musicians.Another consideration is the context in which music is performedand mediated. Most events I cover here occur in concert halls largeand small, in churches, or in clubs like Lula Lounge with a stage. In afeasting society like that of Georgia however food and drink are essentialcomponents of some kinds of traditional music performances.Before public concert halls were built the supra, a kind of elaboratewell-appointed Georgian feast, was an excellent place to hear indigenouspolyphonic singing. Georgian society has elevated feasting andtoasting with wine to a consummate art form. You can experiencea hint of this custom on April 6 at Toronto’s Heliconian Hall wherea tasting of Georgian organic wines accompanies performances ofGeorgian and Russian songs.Concerts world wide are oftena vehicle for the expression ofpublic grief and tribute. In thecase of the concert on SundayApril 7 at Lula Lounge for therecently deceased Uganda-bornlukeme (aka “thumb piano”)player Achilla Orru Apaa-Idomo,it will be the occasion of a celebrationof a career. The concertfeatures his bandmates AfricanGuitar Summit, as well asNjacko Backo, Ann Lederman,Baana Afrique, Nhapitapi Mbira,Ruth Mathiang and Sani Abuof Ijovudu Dance. His “subwayfriends” join the party alongwith Kwame Stephens, Katenen‘Cheka’ Dioubate, Lizzy Mahashe,and Kobena Aquaa-Harrison.I, along with thousands of other commuters, heard Apaa-Idomo inpassing at the Bloor St. subway station. His virtuoso amplified lukemeplaying and textured singing bounced around the station foyer emanatingfrom where he set up beside the concession kiosk. During theprecious quiet moments in between trains it echoed down the subwayplatform. His sweet music inspired me to dream of collaborating withhim musically, a possibility sadly now not to be.That being said, the world’s music will continue to echo through thehalls of our city this month, a sweet reminder of the global musicalrenewal constantly under way all around us.April 6 is a good place to start, with at least three world music concertslisted. As mentioned last issue, Small World Music/Wine DineAfrica presents the veteran Oliver Mtukudzi and Black Spirits in “TheVoice of Zimbabwe” at the Phoenix Concert Theatre. The same dayVishwa Mohan April 1 – May 7, 2013 | 23

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