8 years ago

Volume 19 Issue 1 - September 2013

  • Text
  • September
  • Jazz
  • October
  • Toronto
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Orchestra
  • Choir
  • Concerts
  • Guelph

from Nowhere (Der Vetter

from Nowhere (Der Vetter aus Dingsda) from 1921 by Eduard Künneke(1885–1953). Sometimes translated as The Cousin from Batavia, this isone of the most delightful of all 20th-century operettas. While Lehárin Vienna was consciously moving operetta towards opera, composersin Berlin like Künneke, Benatzky and Lincke were incorporating thenew dance rhythms of the foxtrot and quickstep into their work andthus were moving operetta towards musical comedy. Anyone wholikes the popular music of the 1920s played by Max Raabe and hisPalast Orchester is sure to enjoy The Cousin from Nowhere.For additional fully staged operas, there are many intriguing choices.September 10 and 11, the Nanning Cantonese Opera Troupe performsThe Painted Skin written by Chinese composer Zhuang Hui Xuan. Thestory is based on a Qing Dynasty tale of a young scholar who givessanctuary to a beautiful young woman in distress, not realizing thatshe is, in reality, a ghost. First performed in 2010, The Painted Skin ispart of the resurgence in traditional Chinese opera that includes newworks written in the classical style. The opera will be performed in theSandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre at York University’s Keele campus.Visit for more information and tickets.In 2013/14, Opera Hamilton is staging Verdi’s Falstaff fromOctober 19 to 26 and Bizet’s Carmen from April 19 to 26. JohnFanning will sing the title role in the Verdi in a production includingJames Westman and Lyne Fortin. Italian-American mezzo GingerCosta-Jackson, who received a rave review in the New York Times forher Carmen at Glimmerglass, will sing the title role with Americantenor Richard Troxell as Don José.Those with a taste for early music can look forward to performancesof Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas from January 17 to 19 by the ScholaCantorum and Theatre of Early Music co-directed by Jeanne Lamonand Daniel Taylor with choreography by Bill Coleman. Performancestake place at the Trinity College Chapel at the University of Toronto.Visit for more information.Those with a taste for new music can look forward to TapestryOpera’s program of “Tapestry Briefs,” September 19 to 22, for glimpsesof scenes developed in Tapestry’s Composer-Librettist Laboratory.Michael Mori directs Krisztina Szabó, Peter McGillivray, CarlaHuhtanen and Keith Klassen. Musical directors are Gregory Oh andJennifer Tung. Soundstreams’ presentation of the world premiere ofAirline Icarus by Brian Current to a libretto by Anton Piatigorsky willrun June 3 to 8, 2014. The cast includes Krisztina Szabó and AlexanderDobson and will be directed by Tim Albery. Visit for more information.As usual, operas in concert will lend further variety to the Torontoopera scene. Voicebox: Opera in Concert celebrates its 40th anniversaryseason with the Canadian premiere of Benjamin Britten’sGloriana (1953) on November 24, Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Hippolyteet Aricie (1733) on February 2 and Verdi’s oddly neglected Stiffelio(1850) on March 23. The Toronto Consort continues its series of operasby Venetian composer Francesco Cavalli (1602–76) with his Giasone(1649) from April 4 to 6. And Opera by Request will present Puccini’sLa Bohème in Toronto on September 28 and Massenet’s Manon inWaterloo on October 5.Christopher Hoile is a Toronto-based writer on opera andtheatre. He can be contacted at by Beat | Early MusicThe Early MusicBackline Blues!DaviD PODGORSKIThe next time you’re at an orchestra concert, take a close look atthe musicians sitting at the back. Notice the looks on their facesas they play. If you have to, squint hard. Hear the brass sectionat full volume during an orchestral tutti, or the lutenist strummingaway? Good. They’re working hard, they’re happy (or at least feelingprofessionally fulfilled for these few moments), and they’ll be gladyou noticed them. But pay even closer attention when they’re sittingthrough a tacet and looking out over the orchestra with a blank lookon their faces. They have nothing to do but sit and observe theirco-workers, and I’m willing to bet you they’ve had a few hours to sitback and do nothing when the orchestra was rehearsing this week.They might seem idle, but this particular form of enforced idleness hasgreat rewards.While their colleagues on stage are working, the musicians at theback, from their vantage point, can observe their every move. Theywatch stand partners glare daggers at each other through page turns,they watch the conductor wince as the flutist mangles an exposedpassage and they can see everyone roll their eyes in unison as thesoprano brings the entire piece to a halt to flirt with the world-famoustenor who just flew in from Milan (these are all hypotheticals, but youget the point): the backbenchers, more so than the soloists or eventhe artistic director are the people who really know what’s going onin an orchestra, and if you treat them right, they’ll give you all theinside info on the group that you need. Plus they return your phonecalls faster.I decided to ask Toronto’s top continuo players what they knowabout their respective groups and find out what concerts I shouldmake a point of seeing (or missing) in the upcoming concert season.One continuo player who is privy to all kinds of inside informationis Alison Mackay. As a bass player for Tafelmusik, she knows thisyear is going to be a momentous one for Toronto’s biggest baroqueband. “We’re really excited that we’re going to have a brand newconcert hall,” Mackay says, referring to the major renovation toTrinity-St.Paul’s. “We used to have to build the stage for every concertseries and take it apart for the church services ... The new concert stageis going to make a huge difference to Tafelmusik’s sound.”Better acoustics for any orchestra is a marvellous change, but thisyear is also a seminal one for Tafelmusik for another reason. This isJeanne Lamon’s final year with the orchestra and this season’s guestconductors could be considered as potential candidates to lead thegroup one day. Tafelmusik will also be celebrating Lamon’s legacyas artistic director and lead violinist with the orchestra and will betaking suggestions from the audience for pieces to play in a concert2013-2014IFURIOSIBaroqueEnsemblewww.ifuriosi.com12.10.1311.01.1422.03.1417.05.14Windemere United Church356 Windemere Avenue Toronto24 | September 1 – October 7, 2013

featuring Lamon in a series May 8 to 14.Despite a flurry of activity behind thescenes, Tafelmusik will also be putting onseveral ambitious and innovative concerts,including two which were designed by Mackayand are now an international success. Thefirst, “The Four Seasons: A Cycle of the Sun,”is a re-envisioning of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons,which he composed in 1725, and includesmusic from around the world that would havebeen heard the same year, such as pipa musicfrom China, a raga to celebrate the monsoonand interactive performances by Inuit throatsingers. It also features a re-imagining ofVivaldi’s “Winter” by Oscar-winning Canadiancomposer MychaelDanna. (Mackay’s otherprogram, “The GalileoProject,” will tour Japanand Korea, but Torontoaudiences won’t hearthat here this year.)Finally, Tafelmusikwill release a DVDbased on anotherconcert of Mackay’s,“House of Dreams,”which featuresmusic and paintingsfrom famous artpatrons in Baroque Europe.Justin Haynes.“Some of these paintings were part of private collectionsthat were acquired by public galleries and haven’t been seen intheir original locations for centuries,” Mackay explains. “We filmedperformances in places like Handel’s house in London and the houseof one of Bach’s close friends in Leipzig. The movie takes you allover Europe and gives you a sense of what it must have been like toexperience that music back in the 18th century.” That movie will becommercially available in a few months, and Mackay hopes it will geta public premiere some time in November.Another continuo insider I talked to was lutenist Lucas Harris.Besides providing a solid foundation to groups like Tafelmusik andthe Toronto Consort, Harris makes up one-third of the Vesuviusensemble, a chamber group dedicated to Italian folk music. “We had avery successful concert program based on music from Naples, so we’reLucas Harris andRebecca Morton.going to tour that to Port Hope, Cambridge and Ottawa,” Harris says.Toronto audiences will be able hear Vesuvius on November 2 whenthey open for Michael Occhipinti’s Sicilian Jazz Project at KoernerHall. Harris will also have centre stage earlier that day when heconducts his final Masters recital in choral conducting at the Churchof the Redeemer in a program that includes works by Arvo Pärt, LiliBoulanger and Clara Schumann. While the concert won’t be a straightearly music performance, Harris will use the occasion to show off arepertoire he’s passionate about — the Austrian sacred music of themid-17th century. “No one has really explored this repertoire before,and it’s really amazing music,” he says. “On the one hand, you havebeautiful counterpoint descended from Schutz, and on the other, thisincredible virtuosity from Italian music from that period.”on period instrumentsEarly MusicatMontgomery’s InnSaturday, September 281:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.Enjoy concerts and demonstrations of musicbefore 1800, browse CDs and more.LIMITED SEATINGAdmission by advance tickets onlyCall 416-464-7610 per personFree for children under 14 and TEMC Members4709 Dundas St. W. (at Islington) partnership with theToronto Early Music Centrewww.windermerestringquartet.com2013-2014 Series begins September September 1 – October 7, 2013 | 25

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