7 years ago

Volume 8 Issue 4 - December 2002/January 2003

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next two months. Having

next two months. Having brought us rarities by .Cavalli and Sartorio and chamber operas by Ullmann and Britten, the COC Ensemble turn~ again to Britten for "The Tum of the Screw" based on the enigmatic ghost story by Henry James. The COC has scored a major .coup in signing Christopher Newton to direct, his first directing assignment since stepping down as Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival in September. With such a perfect match of director and subject matter it's little wonder that the entire run of December 3-8 has long been sold out. · For its winter season (January 2.5- February 9) the COC pairs' Verdi's "Un hallo in maschera" ("A Masked Ball") with Janacek's "Jenufa". "Jenufa" returns· in Nicholas Mull.i's acclaimed 1995 production starring British soprano Helen Field in the title role, · Eva Urbanova as the haughty Kostelnicka and John Mac Master as Laca. "Ballo", restored to Verdi's original Swedish setting in a stunning period production from Dallas . Opera, stars Mikhail Agafonov as .Gustavus III, Timothy Noble as Anckarstroem and Zvetelina Vassileva as Amelia. Please consult the Music Theatre listings or visit the COC website at for further information. SPOTLIGHT ON MUSIC THEATRE by Sarah B. Hood Midwinter Mysteries, Magic· · and a Few Merry Men BARDIC SONGS Amy ~reed's The Bear~ of Avon w~s born m 2001 at the Seattle Rep and has become one of the top ten most frequently produced plays in North America. It's a comic look at Whether the man who wrote the plays attributed to Shakespeare co4ld really have been that stay-at-home fellow from smalltownAvon: Isn't it more likely that he was a worldly-wise cqaracter with first-hand knowledge of Italy, a classical education and a grasp of many languages? Many scholars suggest that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, Was just such a man. But if he did pen the plays, why didn't he use his own name? Well, they claim, theatre wasn't really considered a nice pursuit for aristocrats in those days; henc'e the "beard", the signatt,ire of that modest chap who worked around the Globe to disguise the playwright's real identity. "It's certainly not music theatre," says the show's director David Storch, "but we do travel in the play to the world of the theatre, where people do OPERA DVD WATCH by Phil Ehrensaft The DVD "project of the year" is unambiguously the Metropolitan Opera's superb production of Wagner's complete Der Ring des Nibelungen. James Levine conducts all four operas in this 7..ctisk set that runs a grand total of 15 hours and 32 minutes. Universal's remastering of the 1990-91 VHS is a showcase for the advantages of DVD: CD quality sound if you choose PCM stereo rather than compressed surround sound, and qualitatively superior resolution and colour. My feet, eyes, aqd -ears know the Met production intimately, since only standing room tickets were available when I attended their last Ring cycle: This is a dream gift for the opera enthusiast in your life: . the , whole set if your piggy J:iank is full, one title at a time if it's filling up. · The COC is already taking out fullpage advertisemeµts in Opera News announcing the thfee sets of the Ring cycle scheduled in 2006 as opening fare at its new home in· the Four Seasons Centre. It's never too early to get prepared, and UniverSal's DVD set is the. way to do it. The audience at the Met's Ring cycle included numerol!S German-speak- 24 sometimes sing songs, in the course of the plays, or sometimes at the bar ." " Nonetheless CanStage has lined up some heavy-hitting musical talent for the show, which runs to December 15 at the St. Lawrence Centre; composer Leslie Arden contributes original songs, and Marek Norman provides musical' direction. . · SHERWOOD FOOLERY Another English theafre stalwart is the Christmas panto, a fairy tale told with puns and slapstick for the youngest and a, bit of gentle doubleentendre and topical satire for the older viewers. Audience participation is mandatory, from hissing the villain to joining in the sing-alongs. When Ross Petty encountered the genre back in the '80s, he was blown away. "I had no idea the form was out there," he says. "Participatory. theatre is about the most exciting thing there is, especially when you have 1,500 people yelli'ng back at you." Since 1996 Petty has been bringing an annual panto to the Elgin Theatre, and this year it's Robin Hood, which runs from December 3 to January 5. Petty himself delights in calling down the Boo Birds as ers who flew across the Atlantic to the villain of the piece, so, it's no experience aS-good-as-it-gets. Wagner. surprise to hear that he'll be playing Levine's Ring is a Romantic era theSheriffofNottinghamtoGraham Ring. James Morris is outstanding as Abb,ey's Robin. (Abbey won a Wotan in Das Rheingold. Christa Dora for his inspired portrayal of Ludwig as Fricka and Siegfried Jeru- "Pririce Don Squeeze de Charming" salem as Loge don't hurt either. Die ip 'last year's Snow lWiite.) Toronto Wa/kilre joins Morris and Ludwig with music theatre veteran David Warrack Jessye Norman as Sieglinde. Jerusa- is the musical director, while lein sings the difficult role of Siegfried, National Ballet star Rex Harrington with Morris as Der Wanderer, makes his non-balletic debut, singing Hildegarde Behrens as Brlinnhilde and as well 'as dancing as the Wizard of Dawn Upshaw as the Forest Bird. Sherwood Forest. ("I think he's a Jerusalem and Behrens continue.their · bit nervoµs," confides Petty.) Those roles in G6tterdiimmerung, with who enjoy the panto tradition may Ludwig as Waltraute. My heavens. also want to check out Stuff the (Universal also issued the premier Turkey on December 7, and ·Old competing modernist Ring, featuring Mother HubbarCrfrom December 20 Patrice Chereau's staging and Pierre to 22 in Brampton (see the Music Boulez' s cond4cting ·at Bayreuth. I Theatre listings for more details) . . suggest starting from home base with MUSIC TO CONJURE BY Levine and tli.en moving on to Boulez When magician David Ben was if you 're attracted to modernist creating his new show, The reinterpretations. Personally I prefer Conjurer, he decided to tum to a modernist energies directed towards friend, composer John Lang . for commissioning new operas rather than some help with the music. Lang, fiddling with standards.) with Ahmed Hassan, composed the For other new treasures released in music for Robert Desrosiers' time for the holidays, there is an ex- sensational Blue Snake. Ben, who panded version of this column avail- II · 1 · f able on the WholeNote website at usua y uses a compi atwn ° classical music selections, is delighted with the score that Lang is creating for him. "The difference that makes for the pacing and lighting of effects is tremendous," he says. Lang's music accompanies such illusions as "An Aerial Suspension", based on,a famous trick by the Father of Mode~n Magic, Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin", and the "Thumb Tie", which Ben learned from a Japanese Master Magician in return for the secret of Ben's needleswallowing trick. And does he make a· member of the audience disappear? "I "hope to make them appear, regularly," Ben quips . The Conjurer runs from December. 4 to January 5 at the Isabel Bader Theatre. CHRISTMAS CANDLES As the world approached the second millennium of the Christian era, Brookstone · Theatre, which describes itself as "an acclaimed professional theatre with a Judeo­ Christian worldview", decided to take a look at the history of Christmas thrnughout its 2,000 years. The resuli was 2000 Candles, a musical journey through the origins of many of the season's customs, tied together by a narrative that roughly parallels the original Nativity. Billed as ''.the hit boliday musical", 2000 Candles includes a wide selection of seasonal music. "We have everything from a Latin motet right up through contemporary. Christmas songs," says director Tom Carson, who was an original creator of the show ." All the arrangements and some of the songs are original, the work of musical director Jeanine Noyes. (2000 Candles runs in repertory from · December 27 to January 5 with Brookstone's perenuially popular The Lion; ' The Witch and the Wardrobe, a ~on-musical adaptation of .the C.S. Lewis classic that 'tells how four children of this world help save the magical land of Narnia from the clutches of the White Witch.) SMILES FOR THE NEW YEAR Finally, Toronto Operetta Theatre i's repeating its sold-out New Year's Eve Gala for the fifth year in a row. This season's production is Fraiµ: Lehar's The Land of Smiles, and on Wednesday, December 31 TOT is offering a pre-performance buffet dinner and reception at the St. Lawrence Centre, then the . show itself and, after tlie curtain is rung down, a champagne dance party with members of the cast. A ticket for the entire evening runs from 0 to 5, GST included. To reserve, call 416-366-7723. · Best wishes to all WholeNote.readers for a peaceful and joyful holiday season among family and friends! December 1 2002 - February" 7 2003

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