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Volume 20 Issue 8 - May 2015

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ROZARII LYNCHMICHAEL COOPERBeat by Beat | On Opera1227 and All ThatCHRISTOPHER HOILEFor several years April has been the onemonth in the year with the single highestconcentration of opera presentations. Thisyear, for unknown reasons, May claims thatdistinction with presentations of music dramafrom the Middle Ages right up to the presentwith a particular emphasis on new works.c.1227 – Ludus Danielis by Anonymous onMay 22, 23 and 24. The Toronto Consort hasprevious presented a series of highly successfulconcert productions of early operatic masterpiecesfrom the 17th century. With LudusDanielis (or The Play of Daniel), the Consortgives us an example of a sung drama writtenbefore the official invention of opera in the late16th century. Jacopo Peri’s Dafne from 1598,most of the music now lost, is considered theearliest known opera. Yet there are examples inthe Middle Ages of sung drama. One of the mostnotable of these is the Ordo Virtutem (c.1151)by Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). The LudusDanielis was written by students at the schoolof Beauvais Cathedral in France and recountsthe story of Daniel at the court of Belshazzar.What will make this performance unusual isthat it will be fully staged. Kevin Skelton in the role of Daniel joinsthe Consort Medieval players conducted by David Fallis and the Viva!Youth Singers of Toronto. Alex Fallisis the stage director with costumes byNina Okens and set and lighting byGlenn Davidson.1781 – Idomeneo by WolfgangAmadeus Mozart on May 23.Skipping forward 500 years from theLudus Danielis, we come to Operaby Request’s presentation of Mozart’sopera seria about the King of Cretewho prays to Neptune to save himfrom shipwreck vowing to sacrificethe first living being he meetson land. Unfortunately, that beingis his son Idamante. Avery Krismansings Idomeneo, Stephanie Code isIdamante and Hannah Coleman isMark Johnson and NinaWarren from the COC 2001production of ErwartungIdomeneo’s daughter Ilia. Annex Singers are conducted by Maria Caseand the music director and pianist is William Shookhoff.John Relyea as Bluebeard in the2009 Seattle Opera presentationof COC productionAPRIL 17 – MAY 22Sung in Italian with English SURTITLESThe Barber of Seville isgenerously underwritten by1816 – The Barber of Seville by Gioacchino Rossini from April 7to May 22. The COC production of Barber opened in April and wasdiscussed in this column last month, but with 12 performances itruns deep into May. As Figaro, Canadian Joshua Hopkins, who hasmade a name for himself elsewhere, sings his first major role withthe COC. American Alek Shrader is Count Almaviva, Italian SerenaMalfi is his beloved Rosina, Italian RenatoGirolami is her jealous guardian and CanadianRobert Gleadow is Bartolo’s friend Don Basilio.In May other singers assume the last four roleson May 9, 19 and 21. On May 15 members ofthe COC Ensemble Studio take over all thesinging parts for a performance with discountedtickets. Scotsman Rory Macdonald conducts andCatalonian Joan Font directs.1849 – Luisa Miller by Giuseppe Verdi onMay 15. Opera by Request presents one of Verdi’sfour operas based on plays by German playwrightFriedrich Schiller. In the opera as in itssource, Kabale und Liebe (Intrigue and Love) of1784, Luisa is in love with a young man whomshe does not know is really Rodolfo, the sonof Count Walter in disguise. Walter’s steward,the appropriately named Wurm, is secretlyin love with Luisa and vows to do everythinghe can to ruin her relationship with Rodolfo.Naomi Eberhard sings Luisa, Paul Williamsonis Rodolfo, Andrew Tees is Count Walter andSteven Hendrikson is Wurm. William Shookhoffconducts from the piano.1868 – Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas on May 9.Opera by Request’s third opera of the month is one that used to bepopular until World War I. The main difficulty in English-speakingcountries is that the opera has ahappy ending in which Hamlet killsClaudius, is absolved of guilt and isfinally proclaimed king. The highpointof the work is a vocally spectacularmad scene for Ophélie beforeshe drowns herself. Simon Chaussésings Hamlet, Vania Chan is Ophélie,Domenico Sanfilippo is Claudiusand Erica Iris Huang is Gertrude. Asusual, the tireless William Shookhoffconducts from the piano.1909 – Erwartung by ArnoldSchoenberg /1918 - Bluebeard’s Castle by BélaBartók, from May 6 to May 23.This is the double bill directed byRobert Lepage that made COC known around the world. It premieredin 1993 and has been revived in 1995 and 2001. This will be theTHE BARBEROF SEVILLE 416-363-8231Production SponsorProduction supportedin part byThe Catherine and MaxwellMeighen FoundationPhoto: Patrick Carfizzi and Nathan Gunn(Houston Grand Opera, 2011). Photo: FelixSanchez. Creative: BT/A Advertising28 | May 1 - June 7, 2015

first time the operas will have beenpresented in the Four Seasons Centre.Bluebeard’s Castle, performed first, isa symbolist version of the Bluebeardlegend where Bluebeard’s new wifeJudith comes to realize that herhusband is Death itself. Erwartungmeans “expectation” but emphasizesthe aspect of waiting more than doesthe English word. Written in 1909 butnot performed until 1924, Erwartungis one of the few monodramas asidefrom Poulenc’s La Voix humaine (1959)in the operatic repertory. It follows thecrazed thoughts of a woman searchingfor her lover. But is he dead? Could shehave killed him? John Relyea sings DukeBluebeard and Ekaterina Gubanova isJudith. In Erwartung, Krisztina Szabó isthe unnamed Woman. Johannes Debusconducts.2008 – Earnest, The Importance ofBeing by Victor Davies from April 29 toMay 3. Toronto Operetta Theatre revivesits well-received production, first seenin 2008, of an operetta based on OscarWilde’s famous comedy. As discussedin this column last month, the productionstars Jean Stilwell as Lady Bracknellwith Cameron McPhail as John,Thomas Macleay as Algernon, Charlotte Knight as Cecily and MichelleGarlough as Gwendolen. Larry Beckwith conducts and GuillermoSilva-Marin directs.2015 – Alice in Wonderland by Errol Gay from May 7 to 10. TheCanadian Children’s Opera Company presents a new children’s operawith a libretto by Michael Patrick Albano based on the classic novelby Lewis Carroll. Tenor Benoit Boutet will sing the role of the WhiteRabbit while all the other roles are sung by the CCOC. Ann CooperGay conducts the CCOC Chamber Orchestra.2015 – Führerbunker: An Opera by Andrew Ager on May 1 and 2.The COSI Connection presents the world premiere of what will likelybe the most controversial opera of the month. The hour-long workexamines the last ten days of Adolf Hitler and his associates insidehis bunker before the Russians occupied Berlin in 1945. In this itcovers the same territory as Oliver Hirschbiegel’s 2004 film DerUntergang (Downfall) in trying to capture the surreal atmosphereTapestry Opera founding Artistic Director WayneStrongman and M’dea Undone librettist Marjorie Chanof once-powerful political leaders confrontingtheir doom. As Ager told Musical Toronto in2014, “People need to know we are treating itas a narration of the individuals involved, andnot a glorification ... and at the same time, nota morality play.” Jonathan MacArthur will singthe role of Hitler, Sydney Baedke will be EvaBraun with others singing the roles of Goebbelsand his wife, Albert Speer and various guards.Ager, whose opera Frankenstein premieredin Toronto in 2010, will conduct a chamberensemble and Michael Patrick Albano will direct.2015 – M’dea Undone by John Harris fromMay 26 to 29. Tapestry Opera will present theworld premiere of a new version of the Medeastory in collaboration with Scottish Opera. Incollaboration with Scottish composer JohnHarris, librettist Marjorie Chan has updated theaction to the present changing Creon, King ofCorinth, to an anonymous President, Creon’sdaughter Glauce to Dahlia and giving Medeaonly one son with Jason instead of two. In Chan’sversion Jason (Peter Barrett) is a war hero whobecomes the running mate of the President(James McLean). When Jason announces hisengagement to the President’s daughter Dahlia(Jacqueline Woodley), M’dea (Lauren Segal),Jason’s former lover and mother of his son, seeksrevenge. Jordan de Souza will conduct a chamberensemble and Tim Albery will direct.2015 – 21C Music Festival: After Hours #1 on May 21. As part of theRCM’s 21C Music Festival, Bicycle Opera presents several new minioperasthat it will tour throughout Ontario. These will include TheDancer by James Rolfe, The Yellow Wallpaper by Cecilia Livingston,(What rhymes with) Azimuth? by Ivan Barbotin, Bianchi by TobinStokes and an excerpt from Dean Burry’s The Bells of Baddeck. Thesingers are soprano Larissa Koniuk, mezzo Stephanie Tritchew, tenorGraham Thomson and baritone Alexander Dobson. The musicians areviolinist Ilana Waniuk, cellist Erika Nielsen Smith and Wesley Shen,music director and piano. Liza Balkan directs.To be able to sample works of lyric theatre from a period of nearly800 years in just one month is a luxury available in very few cities inthe world. Be sure to make the most of it.Christopher Hoile is a Toronto-based writer on opera andtheatre. He can be contacted at KATZWORLD PREMIEREM’DEAUNDONEMay 26-29, 2015 | 8:30 pmEvergreen Brickworks, 550 Bayview AvenueA Tapestry collaboration with Scottish OperaLibretto by Marjorie Chan | Music by John HarrisDirected by Tim Albery | Conducted by Jordan de SouzaStarring Lauren Segal, Peter Barrett, James McLean, and Jacqueline WoodleySeason Production SponsorA modern reimagining of mythology’smost controversial heroine, set againstthe stunning backdrop of Toronto’sreclaimed brick May 1 - June 7, 2015 | 29

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