8 years ago

Volume 20 Issue 3 - November 2014

  • Text
  • November
  • Toronto
  • December
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Arts
  • Musical
  • Bloor
  • Orchestra
  • Choir

Petroleum and Gas.After

Petroleum and Gas.After many satiricalswipes at contemporaryscandals in Madrid(continually updatedin performance), thepiece concludes withthe unveiling of thecompleted boulevardand a salute to theMadrid of the future.The zarzuela was a hugesuccess in Madrid andeventually went on tofurther success in Paris,Vienna and Prague.Indeed, the work’ssatire of city planningand the destruction ofold neighbourhoodsis something that anyPoster for La Gran Vía (1886)large city, includingToronto, should be ableto appreciate. The show features Margie Bernal, Fabian Arciniegas,Pablo Benitez and Diego Catala with José Hernández as pianist andmusic director.Voicebox: On November 30 Voicebox: Opera in Concert presentsLa Vida Breve (1913) by Manuel de Falla (1876-1946). La Vida Brevewas Falla’s first opera, his previous works for the stage all having beenzarzuelas. The libretto written in Andalusian dialect concerns thegypsy Salud who is in love with the wealthy man Paco. He has led heron, not telling her he is already engaged to be married to a woman ofhis own class. Salud’s uncle and grandmother know Paco’s secret andtry to dissuade Salud from interrupting Paco’s wedding. But all is invain and tragedy results. French composer Claude Debussy directlyinfluenced Falla in transforming the work first written as a numberopera into one with a more continuous orchestral flow.Performers include Isabel Bayrakdarian, Ernesto Ramírez andGuillermo Silva-Marin. José Herández is the pianist and music directorand Robert Cooper is the director of the Voicebox Chorus.Tapestry Opera: In between these two Spanish-centred evenings,Tapestry Opera launches its 35th season by providing a glimpseinto the future of opera with TapestryBriefs: Booster Shots runningNovember 13 to 16. The Booster Shots consist of ten new short operasperformed in and around the Distillery Historic District. Each nightbegins in the Ernest Balmer Studio, Tapestry’s studio and bar, withsubsequent scenes taking place in other Distillery spaces – fromfreight elevators and brick-lined halls, to intimate corners and publicgalleries.Isabel BayrakdarianPhoto: Dan Rest, Lyric Opera of ChicagoVOICEBOXOPERA IN CONCERTGuillermo Silva-Marin, General Directorwww.operainconcert.comSubscriptions still available:VIDA BREVE with Reception,STREET SCENE, LOUISELAVIDABREVEby Manuel de FallaJosé Hernández, Music Director and PianistErnesto RamírezIsabel BayrakdarianGuillermoSilva-MarinThe VOICEBOX Chorus,Robert Cooper, Chorus DirectorSun. Nov. 30at 2:30 pm416-366-7723 | 1-800-708-6754 | www.stlc.comThe ten operas will be performed by various combinations of onlyfour singers. Newcomer, soprano Catherine Affleck, a recent graduateof Yale University School of Music, joins familiar Tapestry performersbaritone Alex Dobson, tenor Keith Klassen and mezzo sopranoKrisztina Szabó.The Booster Shots have been created by an illustrious group of playwrightsand composers. The group includes: Governor General Awardwinningplaywrights Nicolas Billon and Morris Panych; SiminovitchPrize-nominated writer Hannah Moscovitch; Dora Mavor MooreAward-winning playwright Donna-Michelle St. Bernard; GovernorGeneral Award-nominated playwright David Yee; composer IvanBarbotin; Dean Burry, who has composed works for the CanadianOpera Company and the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus; JulesLéger Prize-winning composers James Rolfe and Nicole Lizée;Benton Roark, co-recipient of the Tournon Branley Prize for collaborativework in architecture and music; and SOCAN award-winnerand co-artistic director of the Toy Piano Composers, ChristopherThornborrow.The ten operas are:1984: The Folded Paper by Christopher Thornborrow to a librettoby Nicolas Billon that stages an episode from George Orwell’sfamous novel.Bessie by Christopher Thornborrow and Morris Panych about ajazz singer who struggles with her boyfriend just before she is togo on stage.Blind Woman by James Rolfe and David Yee about a dancer who haslost her vision.Brooks Bush Gang by Benton Roark and Hannah Moscovitch, whichfocusses on a real woman-run 1860s gang responsible for a highprofilemurder in Toronto.Damnation by Ivan Barbotin and Morris Panych about a man34 | November 1 - December 7, 2014

Beat by Beat | Jazz NotesThe Sound OfMusicJIM GALLOWAYDean Burry (top) and Nicolas Billon (bottom)Morris Panych (left) and Christopher Thornborrow (right)condemned to hell who tries to devise a way to get out.Fetishist by Ivan Barbotin and David Yee concerning an Asianwoman who undergoes surgery to look more Caucasian.Memes by Dean Burry and Nicolas Billon about a hipster couple ona first date who find they have almost nothing in common.Oubliette by Ivan Barbotin and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard dealingwith a young woman who has escaped imprisonment in a suburbanbasement and tries to regain a lost sense of self.The Overcoat by James Rolfe and Morris Panych that stages ascene between two tailors from Nikolai Gogol’s short story of thesame name.R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Nicole Lizée and NicolasBillon, an adaptation of a scene from Karel Čapek’s 1921 play that gaveus the word “robot.”The ten Booster Shots are directed by Tapestry artistic directorMichael Hidetoshi Mori and designed by Yulia Shtern. Piano accompanimentwill be provided by Christopher Foley and Jennifer Tung.Postcard and Pinafore: In addition to Tapestry’s 21st-century works,both of Toronto’s opera schools are producing fully-staged operasthis month. On November 21 and 22 the Glenn Gould School of Musicpresents Postcard from Morocco, an opera from 1971 by Americancomposer Dominick Argento. The libretto concerns seven characterswaiting at a train station who are glad to sing about what they dobut who do not wish to discuss the contents of their luggage. Thoughthe passengers seem to be under the control of a mysterious puppetmaster,one of them struggles to break free. The work is an existentialistparable about how people define themselves; to reflect thisArgento draws on an eclectic range of musical styles, ranging fromcabaret to Wagner to operetta, to suit each character. Peter Tiefenbachconducts and Brent Krysa directs.The following week the Opera Division of University of TorontoFaculty of Music stages the Gilbert and Sullivan chestnut H.M.S.Pinafore (1878) from November 27 to 30. It’s hard to believe but thelast time the Opera Division staged a G&S operetta was Patience in1990. Sandra Horst, Chorus Master for the COC, will conduct andMichael Patrick Albano will direct.It should also be noted that Opera by Request performs three operasin concert this November – Mozart’s Don Giovanni on November 19,Puccini’s Madama Butterfly on November 21 and Handel’s GiulioCesare on November 29. William Shookhoff is the pianist and musicdirector for all three.No, this really isn’t about my favourite things. It’s about the relationshipbetween music and war and it’s triggered by the factthat Remembrance Day falls on the 11th of this month and thatgot me thinking about songs that in all probability would not havebeen written had there not been the background of violence. So muchfor music being the food of love – it can also be the food of sorrow,anger, regret and the whole range of human emotions.Patriotic songs have been around for centuries. One of the firstCanadian examples dates from the war of 1812: ”Come all you braveCanadians I’d have you lend an ear / Unto a simple ditty / That willyour spirits cheer.” Fast forward to the First World War, “the war toend all wars,” which gave us “Keep the Home Fires Burning” (1914),“Mademoiselle from Armentières,” “The Hearse Song,” “Over There”(later featured in the film This Is the Army) and “Roses of Picardy.”“Bless ’Em All” (also known as “The Long and the Short and theTall” and “F*** ’Em All”) is a war song credited as having been writtenby Fred Godfrey in 1917 but not really popular until WWII.“Lili Marleen” became one of the most popular songs of the SecondWorld War among both German and British troops, the most notableversion sung being by Marlene Dietrich.Irving Berlin wrote “This is the Army, Mr. Jones” (1942) forthe revue This is the Army that was remade as a 1943 Americanwartime musical comedy film of the same name. It mocks the attitudesof middle class soldiers forced to undergo the rigours of life inthe barracks.“Kiss Me Goodnight, Sergeant Major,” (1939) is a British soldier’ssong, mocking their officers.Popular concert songs in Britain during the war included “RunRabbit Run,” sung by Flanagan and Allen (1939) and “There’ll AlwaysBe An England” (1939–40,) sung by Vera Lynn who also had a huge hitwith “We’ll Meet Again.”And the point of all this? It’s worth noting that the solemn musicthat gets trotted out at times of significant remembrance like this isgenerally written after the fact. What lifted the spirits of those whowere then and there was music more like this.From chalumeau to licorice stick: The chalumeau was the forerunnerof the present day clarinet and the clarinet has maintained itsstrong presence in classical music throughout the centuries. In jazzhowever it has had its ups and downs.In the review section I covered a CD by clarinetist John MacMurchy.Well, a few decades ago clarinet was king with Artie Shaw, BennyGoodman and less famous names. But right up there were instrumentalistssuch as Barney Bigard, known for his long associationwith Duke Ellington, Edmond Hall, for my taste the most excitingChristopher Hoile is a Toronto-based writer on opera andtheatre. He can be contacted at November 1 - December 7, 2014 | 35

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