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Volume 19 Issue 8 - May 2014

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  • Choir
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Includes the 2014 Canary Pages directory of choirs.

Beat by Beat | On

Beat by Beat | On OperaFrom Nowhereto East of the SunCHRISTOPHER HOILEROZARII LYNCHThis May opera companies are presenting several works newto Toronto audiences. One of the operas, East o’ the Sun andWest o’ the Moon, is a world premiere, but the others are worksfrom the early part of the 20th century making a very belated firstappearance.The first work of note is The Cousin from Nowhere by EduardKünneke (1885-1953) receiving its Canadian premiere from May 1 to4 by Toronto Operetta Theatre. The curious title is one of two Englishversions of the original German title Der Vetter aus Dingsda. After theoperetta’s great success first in Berlin in 1921, then Vienna, and thenall over German-speaking Europe, it opened in London in 1923 underthe title The Cousin from Nowhere. In 2000 when the Ohio LightOpera revived it and later recorded it, the company used the title TheCousin from Batavia. The problem is that the word “Dingsda” justcan’t be translated compactly into English. Just as we say “whatshisname”when we can’t think of a the name of a person, Germans say“Dingsda” when they can’t think of the name of a place.What is certain is that The Cousin from Nowhere is one of themost delightful works from the Silver Age of operetta. You needonly listen to the excerpts on iTunes from the recording with theKölner Rundfunkorchester to understand why the operetta was sucha big hit. Try the operetta standard for tenor “Ich bin nur ein armerWandergesell” or the operetta standard for soprano “StrahlenderMond” to have a sense of Künneke’s gentle romantic side. Then try“Sieben Jahr lebt’ ich in Batavia” for an idea of his clever satirical side.The action is set in a small castle in Holland. Julia (Lucia Cesaroni),heir to the castle but who has not yet come of age, is chafing underthe rule of her aunt (Elizabeth Beeler) and uncle (Michael Nyby) whoare her guardians. She still dreams of her beloved cousin Roderich deWeert, who has been away in the Dutch colony of Batavia (in what isnow Indonesia) for seven years. Although she has sworn to be true tohim, her aunt and uncle say she can’t wait any longer for Roderich.Her uncle wants her to marry his nephew and a family friend wantsher to marry his son. One evening a mysterious traveller (ChristopherMayell) turns up looking for a place to stay.Eventually, Julia begins to wonder if this traveller may actually beRoderich who has returned quite changed from the time spent in theFar East. The traveller, however, denies it. The next day, Julia’s bestfriend Hannchen (Charlotte Knight) arrives with a man who tells herthat he is Roderich de Weert. Who is the real Roderich and who is theDRAMA.QUEEN.SONDRA RADVANOVSKYIS ELIZABETH IAbove: John Relyea (centre, on horse) as Don Quichotte in the Seattle Operaproduction of Don Quichotte, 2011.Right: Ferruccio Furlanetto as Don Quixote in SanDiego Opera’s Don Quixote, April 2014.impostor? And what about Julia’s vow now that she has fallen in lovewith the traveller? Those are the mysteries that the operetta poses andquite skilfully sorts out.In Europe there have been five new productions of Der Vetteraus Dingsda since 2012. The TOT production will be the first newproduction in North America since the revival of the extremelypopular Ohio Light Opera staging in 2002. As someone who has seenthis charming work twice before, I urge operetta-lovers and anyonewho loves the kind of 1920s dance music made popular by MaxRaabe and his Palastorchester definitely not to miss it. With Cousin,Jurgen Petrenko makes his TOT conducting debut and GuillermoSilva-Marin directs.Bat-ta-clan postponed: In On Opera for April, I mentioned thatfrom May 1 to 3 Opera 5 intended to present a pair of French operettararities in the form of Ba-ta-clan (1855) by Jacques Offenbachand L’Île du rêve (1898) by Reynaldo Hahn. The performances wereto inaugurate the new Alliance Française de Toronto Centre Culturelat 24 Spadina Road. Unfortunately, the performance hall will notbe ready in time, so Opera 5 has postponed the production untilSeptember. Still on May 3 it will provide a preview of this unusualdouble bill at a party it is holding at Alliance Française at 8pm. TeiyaROBERTO DEVEREUXApril 25 - May 21Sung in Italian with English SURTITLEScoc.ca416−363−8231DONIZETTIHasmik Papian. Photo: Karen AlmondMajor Sponsors20 | May 1, 2014 – June 7, 2014

Kasahara and Adrian Kramer will singaccompanied by Maika’i Nash.Bass Showcase: In its seventh and finalopera of the 2013/14 season – and its lastseven-opera season, for now – the COC ispresenting Don Quichotte (1910) by JulesMassenet (1842-1912) for the first time. TheCOC has staged only two of Massenet’s28 extant operas – Manon in 1952and Werther in 1981 and 1992. Massenetwrote the opera with the great Russian bassFeodor Chaliapin in mind for the title role.The work has since become a showcase rolefor a bass with Ferruccio Furlanetto, whowill sing it in Toronto, as one of the opera’spremier proponents. Quinn Kelsey, whowon praise here in 2011 for his Rigoletto, willsing the aged knight’s trustycompanion Sancho Panzaand Anita Rachvelishviliwill sing the role ofDulcinée, the lusty wenchwhom the knight imaginesto be a fair damsel.The colourfully whimsicalproduction, set amonggigantic books, comes fromSeattle Opera and will bedirected by Linda Brovsky,who directed it there. COCMusic Director JohannesDebus conducts.East of The Sun: Mayconcludes with the worldpremiere of East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon, a new children’sopera commissioned by the Canadian Children’s Opera Company.Based on the Norwegian folktale, the 70-minute-long opera iscomposed by Norbert Palej to a libretto by K.T. Bryski and has publicperformances May 30 to June 1. Palej, originally from Cracow, Poland,is currently an associate professor of composition at the Universityof Toronto Faculty of Music. K.T. Bryski is a fantasy novelist living inToronto, best known for her novel Hapax (2012).The folk tale was one of those collected by the Brothers Grimm ofNorway, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe, who publishedtheir collections of Norwegian folk tales and fairy tales between 1841and 1871. English speakers will likely best know the story from itstranslation by Sir George Webbe Dasent who gave its title to his 1910translation of tales by Asbjørnsen and Moe.The plot, a variation on Beauty and the Beast, concerns a youngfarm girl who saves her starving family by befriending a mysteriouswhite bear, who promises to make her father rich if he gives him hisdaughter. The girl knows the bear changes his form at night but it istoo dark to see him. One night she brings a candle and discovers thathe is really a young prince condemned to take on animal form duringthe day. Unfortunately, the girl’s lack of trust in him means he mustnow go to his wicked stepmother, the evil queen of the trolls whocursed him in the first place, and marry her daughter, a troll princess.The young girl now must seek the palace of the queen of the trolls thatlies “east of the sun and west of the moon” to rescue the prince. CCOCartistic director Ann Cooper Gay will conduct a chamber orchestraand Joel Ivany, founder of Against the Grain Theatre, will direct.Christopher Hoile is a Toronto-based writer on opera and theatre.He can be contacted at May 1, 2014 – June 7, 2014 | 21

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