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Volume 22 Issue 1 - September 2016

  • Text
  • September
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • October
  • Festival
  • Symphony
  • Musical
  • Orchestra
  • Theatre
  • Quartet
  • Volume
Music lover's TIFF (our fifth annual guide to the Toronto International Film Festival); Aix Marks the Spot (how Brexit could impact on operatic co-production); The Unstoppable Howard Cable (an affectionate memoir of a late chapter in the life of of a great Canadian arranger; Kensington Jazz Story (the newest kid on the festival block flexes its muscles). These stories and much more as we say a lingering goodbye to summer and turn to the task, for the 22nd season, of covering the live and recorded music that make Southern Ontario tick.

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continued from page 10 Ariodante auf Orkney Let’s see now. With Handel’s Ariodante – Richard Jones’ version premiering at the Four Seasons Centre with the Canadian Opera Company October 16 to November 4 – we have a love-wracked title character who makes Hamlet seem like a laugh riot, living in Scotland’s Orkney Islands, you know, remote, lonely and windswept where they have mean, seaweed-eating North Ronaldsay sheep, little summer to speak of and folks going around in thick woolly sweaters that render most forms of sexual contact tricky, if not extremely itchy. Jones’ punky production, which premiered in 2014 at the Aix Festival, goes whole hog, er, whole sheep, with this Orkney claustrophobia vibe. Besides excess tartan there’s lots of wallpaper. “What made my mind up about the production was Jones’ idea to move the setting from Scotland itself to the Orkneys,” says COC general director Alexander Neef. “He turns it into an even more remote place. Handel thought Scotland itself was a remote place.” The new setting is Scotland of the recent past, where the heroine, Ginevra, suffers mightily to be with the man she loves, Prince Ariodante – British mezzo soprano Alice Coote, a Jones favourite, for the COC performances – only to be accused of being unfaithful to him. “The story is wintry,” Jones tells me enthusiastically on the phone, his tone anything but wintry. “The music is baroque but the setting is 1970s Scotland. There is a tension between the two. People look at it more acutely because of that.” Besides tension we get lying, cheating, the hero’s attempted suicide and lots of knitwear. How much fun is that? Well, lots actually. “Yes, there is this sense of melancholy that is found in many pieces of the period which I find intoxicating,” says COC music director, Johannes Debus. Despite a childhood spent as a pianist/fiddler in Baroquerich West Germany, he’s making his Handel-conducting debut with Ariodante. “There is a lushness to the score. Opera at his time was an entertainment at an extremely high level; an entertainment is a form to allow you to forget your daily life.” Debus was born in 1974, the year David Bowie released Diamond Dogs. Rock is not foreign to his musical thinking: his understanding of it will not likely inhibit his still-growing reputation. Ariodante, produced in 1735, was the by-product of an aggressive new marketing venture by Handel which would have made Andrew Lloyd Webber proud. In 1734, Handel moved his company from the Haymarket’s King’s Theatre to John Rich’s Theatre Royal, newly installed at Covent Garden, to find a better location and a company with a chorus and dancers. (Speaking of location: along with the COC and Aix, this Ariodante is a co-production with the Dutch National Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago.) “Handel always had dancers in mind: this music itself was based on dance, the sarabande, the gavotte and the bourée,” Debus continues. “Baroque music uses words the way rock does: there is always a certain rhythmical aspect to them. It’s an expression of youth. And there is the aspect of popularity in the music itself. The singers at the time were all pop stars of the period, idolized by everyone. When A scene from Ariodante from the Festival d’Aix en Provence, 2014 people went to the opera then it was not as it is today. They chatted. They might have sung along to the music. There was no holy, sacred atmosphere.” Ariodante’s Aix debut was interrupted by France-wide strikes by arts-related workers fearful of cutbacks in their benefits. One British singer had her entrance blocked by “about 40 protestors who were blowing klaxons.” By then though, the current Handel revival – one to rival the composer’s last period of rediscovery in the 1920s – was in full swing. “I was a latecomer to Handel,” COC general director Alexander Neef admits, “but once I rounded that corner I saw him next to Mozart and Verdi.” The Aix success this season of Krzysztof Warlikowski’s young and restless take on Handel’s Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno, confirms what Jones and Debus believe is Handel’s intrinsic connection to today’s popular culture. Handel wrote for the street and his own generation. Il trionfo, Handel’s first oratorio, was written when he was just 22. Jones himself comes to Ariodante through the prism of pop not opera seria. The formulaic courtliness observed by Handel’s characters and understood by his audience is not replicated in Jones’ direction, although his characters, turning themselves into manipulatable puppets, are looking for motivation from somewhere. But where, the TV? The movies? Today’s sitcom, not George II’s 18th century court, informs this Ariodante. Maybe this hardly promises the signature shock and awe involved in some of Jones’ earlier productions like his recent grit‘n’grimy version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, his Royal Shakespeare Company debut, which had him labelled a “vandal.” Believing that “theatre and opera are marginal to most people,” Jones says, “I am selfishly willing these great works work. And I am trying to work with people who can stimulate.” Debus is on board with that. “I cannot say I have a vast experience with Baroque music although I’ve conducted it here and there and one of my favourite composers is Bach,” he says. “At the end though, no matter how much you do research on how the music may have been played at the time, in the end it’s the interpretation that makes the music work. You have to have someone with the right instinct for the music and the vastness of the emotion there. The result can be a very lively performance that also touches you.” P.G. PASCAL VICTOR PURCELL OCT. – , 16 Elgin Theatre, Toronto CHARPENTIER APR. 22 – 29, 2017 SEE 2 OPERAS FOR AS LITTLE AS ! SUBSCRIBE NOW: 416-703-3767 X222 Photo by Bruce Zinger. 76 | September 1, 2016 - October 7, 2016 thewholenote.com

TICKETS FROM $ 35 ALSO PLAYING: ARIODANTE HANDEL BELLINI OCT. 6 – NOV. 5 coc.ca 416-363-8231 2016 | 2017 SEASON SPONSOR: Official Automotive Sponsor Presenting Sponsor of Opera Under 30 and Operanation Preferred Credit Card TD ® Aeroplan ® Visa Infinite Privilege* Marco Berti and Sondra Radvanovsky in Norma (San Francisco Opera, 2014), photo: Cory Weaver.

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2019)

Volume 25 Issue 4 - December 2019 / January 2020
Volume 25 Issue 2 - October 2019
Volume 25 Issue 1 - September 2019
Volume 24 Issue 8 - May 2019
Volume 24 Issue 7 - April 2019
Volume 24 Issue 6 - March 2019
Volume 24 Issue 5 - February 2019
Volume 24 Issue 4 - December 2018 / January 2019
Volume 24 Issue 3 - November 2018
Volume 24 Issue 2 - October 2018
Volume 24 Issue 1 - September 2018
Volume 23 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2018
Volume 23 Issue 8 - May 2018
Volume 23 Issue 7 - April 2018
Volume 23 Issue 6 - March 2018
Volume 23 Issue 4 - December 2017 / January 2018
Volume 23 Issue 3 - November 2017
Volume 23 Issue 2 - October 2017
Volume 23 Issue 1 - September 2017
Volume 22 Issue 9 - Summer 2017
Volume 22 Issue 8 - May 2017
Volume 22 Issue 7 - April 2017
Volume 22 Issue 6 - March 2017
Volume 22 Issue 5 - February 2017
Volume 22 Issue 4 - December 2016/January 2017
Volume 22 Issue 2 - October 2016
Volume 22 Issue 1 - September 2016
Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016
Volume 21 Issue 8 - May 2016
Volume 21 Issue 6 - March 2016
Volume 21 Issue 5 - February 2016
Volume 21 Issue 4 - December 2015/January 2016
Volume 21 Issue 3 - November 2015
Volume 21 Issue 2 - October 2015
Volume 21 Issue 1 - September 2015

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