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Volume 18 Issue 8 - May 2013

  • Text
  • Choir
  • Toronto
  • Theatre
  • Concerts
  • Musical
  • Jazz
  • Choral
  • Singers
  • Festival
  • Vocal
Includes the 2013 Canary Pages choral directory.

Beat by Beat | Music

Beat by Beat | Music TheatreOriginalsJune 14–23Tickets on sale nowFeng Yi TingDirected by Atom EgoyanComposed by Guo WenjingJune 20–22,MacMillan TheatreTSO GoesLate Night:Rhapsody ona Theme ofPaganiniThe Toronto SymphonyApproved for use in March 2013 AdsOrchestra and Yuja WangJune 15, Roy Thomson HallArts Partner:For tickets, call416-368-4tix or visitluminatofestival.comVisitluminatofestival.comfor full Festival detailsMusic MobCo-hosted by TSO MusicDirector Peter Oundjian &Luminato Festival ArtisticDirector Jorn WeisbrodtPlay Wagner and Verdi withmembers of the TorontoSymphony OrchestraJune 22, 2PM, Festival Hub,David Pecaut Square, FREEOfficial Partner:A SymphonicBirthday PartyToronto Symphony OrchestraJune 21, Festival Hub,David Pecaut Square, FREEWith Support From:Concerto forPiano andPasteboardsWritten by Miguel Puga &Miguel Aparicio andDirected by Miguel PugaJune 14–16, MazzoleniConcert Approved for Hall, use in March TELUS 2013 Ads Centrefor Performance & LearningTwo toronto theatre companies, neither known for musicalproduction, break new ground this month by presenting ontheir main stages original musicals written and composed byCanadian artists. The first show, by Soulpepper theatre, opens onMay 9, and while its title maylack originality, the productioncertainly doesn’t. An updateof a “comedy with songs” thatTheatre Columbus created in1996, The Barber of Sevillereunites its creators — MichaelO’Brien (writer), John Millard(composer) and Leah Cherniak(director) — for a fresh look atthe runaway hit that won DORAawards for outstanding musicalproduction, score, and femaleROBERT WALLACEAlistair Newton andKimberly Persona.performance. Needless to say, the show arrives with buzz.“But original?” you ask. “What about Rossini’s opera?”As if to answer such a question, Michael O’Brien pointsout that Gioachino Rossini based The Barber of Seville ona comedy that French playwright Pierre Beaumarchaiswrote in 1775, the first of his “Figaro trilogy.” Well beforeRossini’s opera buffa premiered in 1816, Beaumarchais’play (itself an opéra comique — a mixture of spoken wordsand music) inspired other writers and composers (mostnotably Mozart) to pen variations. This type of borrowing,far from exceptional in the theatre, is common, withwriters and composers using a variety of sources to create work whoseoriginality often relies on form more than content. Certainly, this isthe case with the two musicals I preview here.As O’Brien sees it, Soulpepper’s take on The Barber of Seville“combines the best elements of Beaumarchais’ play with highlightsof the Rossini opera and a few twists of our own, creating an all-newcontemporary version ...” Using a highly theatrical representationof 18th-century Spain as his touchstone, the Toronto playwrightheightens the play’s comic elements at every turn. “Dialogue andlyrics are a colourful mish-mash of classic romance and modernirreverence. Plot and characters are faithful in spirit to bothBeaumarchais and Rossini, though I’ve thrown in a few big surprisesthat I hope will delight those who know the source material well.”Discussing the music he composed for the play, John Millardaddresses the similarities and differences between O’Brien’s script andthose of his predecessors. “Michael used the dramaturgical structureof the [Beaumarchais] play and placed the musical moments wherethey belonged inside it. All the recitative is gone. The songs functionthe way they do in most theatrical situations, in that very little actiontakes place inside them. Mostly they reveal states of emotion: current,past or future. Many of the recognizable themes are there [but] it’snot the opera. It’s an entertainment of our own devising, based on[the work of] Rossini and Beaumarchais.” Ultimately, Millard regardsthe score as a “high end folk music version” of Rossini’s creation,noting that it includes “patter songs, cavatina and arias. There is also aScottish folk song, a couple of things of my own invention and quotesfrom many different sources.”Arguably, it is the quotes and references that most distinguishthe show as contemporary — a mash-up typical of late 20th-centuryperformance that is clever, tuneful and fun. In many shows fromthis period, style uses content as a pretext for coups des théâtre thatforeground the paradox of combining live performers with technologicalwizardry. Barber is no exception although, rather than treat its10 | May 1 – June 7, 2013 thewholenote.com

sources with reverence, it lampoons them with a playful vigour thatis as physical as it is stylized. In the press release for the 1996 productionof the show, Theatre Columbus celebrated the act of “freelyplundering from Rossini’s opera” even as it reduced its summaryof the plot to a cryptic sentence: “A lovesick nobleman seeks thewoman of his dreams but to win her, he must enlist the help of themercurial Figaro.” More telling of the company’s theatrical goals andachievements with the prodution was its contention that the playleads the audience “into a madcap spiral of deceit, disguise, trickeryand mayhem.”In productions such as this, style is tantamount to sensibility. In thisparticular Barber, the sensibility is simultaneously base and sophisticated— an appropriate combination given the show’s debt to bouffonand commedia dell’arte — theatrical styles that elevate mime andexaggerate gesture with a precision akin to dance. The style was noteworthyin the Theatre Columbus production, of which Kate Taylornoted in her review for the Globe and Mail: “From theslightest gesture to the smallest prop, every opportunityfor a laugh is exploitedin a hugely detailedproduction. It takes agreat deal of control tocreate the appearanceof reigning confusionon stage; TheatreColumbus has plenty.”The onstage bandthat John Millard hasassembled to accompanythe Soulpeppercast promises tofurther extend thestylish originality thatthe play achieved inJohn Millard.its first production.Millard’s use of banjo,violin, accordion, bass,guitar and flute is unconventional to musicals, let alone opera, yet“true to the spirit of Rossini,” he suggests, though he quickly adds “butit’s quite a different creature.” He explains that “In some of the piecesI’ve attempted to replicate [Rossini’s] score. In other arrangements,we’ve approached it in the form of a lead sheet. In others, a re-envisioning.It’s a broad approach.” The cast, he notes, which mixes newfaces and seasoned veterans like Stratford stalwart Dan Chameroy whoplays Figaro, is “discreetly miked,” a tip of his hat to current fashion.There’s nothing discreet about our second original either: Of AMonstrous Child is a new musical that recalls Weimar cabaret in itscoupling of queer provocation and steamy style in the service of apolitical aesthetic. Created by Ecce Homo for Buddies in Bad TimesTheatre, which co-produces the piece on its main stage startingMay 15, the show’s subtitle, “A Gaga Musical,” offers a key to theproduction’s theme that Alistair Newton, its writer and director, ishappy to elucidate in an interview. “I think that Lady Gaga is a kindof climax — or perhaps denouement — of post-modernism. Gaga isthe ideal cipher to explore and explode our current cultural moment,ruled as it is by hipster ersatz-irony and obsession with authenticity.[…] Gaga is obsessed with persona and fantasy and self-aware selfexpression,and that’s really what theatre is all about.”Ecce Homo, like Newton (the company’s artistic director), ispreoccupied with theatre in extremis — or, more precisely, “totaltheatre” as it was theorized by artistic visionaries like Meyerholdand Antonin Artaud in the early 20th century. For them, “selfawareself-expression” was tantamount to theatre as theatre, not as arepresentation of life. Ecce Homo, founded in 2005 by Newton, MattJackson, a production designer, and Austrian installation artist EdithArtner, defines its goal as “stylized theatrical works with strong sociopoliticalcontent which synthesize text, music, dance and designto yield a total theatrical experience. Ecce Homo strives to equallyFROM SEA TO SEAWORLD PREMIERE PERFORMANCEwith Elmer Iseler Singers, Elora Festival Singers & moreNew choral worksby Aaron Jensencelebrating Canadianpoetry, host MarilynElmer Iseler Singers LightstoneMay 12, 2:30 pmFleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront CentreSING! WORLD COLLABORATIONS CONCERTMay 11, 3:00 pmBrigantine Room, Harbourfront CentreCO-PRODUCED BYLizzy MahasheSuba SankaranExploration andinterweaving ofvocal styles fromacross the globeCanada's Premier A Cappella Festival – Concerts and Workshops all weekend May 9 to 12Tickets and info at www.SingToronto.comWe acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage (BCAH)Experience, Expertise plus an Extensive SelectionViolinmakers, Dealers and Restorers since 1890Old and modern master instrumentsExceptional collection of fine bowsRepairs, Restorations, Valuations, Student RentalsWe purchase old string instrumentsA Fine Violin by L. Remenyi,c. 1935 copy of Jos. FiliusAndrea Guarneri 1713210 Bloor St. West Toronto ( opposite the Royal Conservatory ) www.remenyi.comthewholenote.com May 1 – June 7, 2013 | 11

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