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Volume 9 Issue 10 - July/August 2004

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ON OPERA ' 0 by

ON OPERA ' 0 by Christopher Haile n May 19 the nominees for the Dora A wards were announced and will be revealed on June 28 ; while we are at press. As last year, opera has its own division, and even if the categories within the division are still not as extensive as they should be, we should be·grateful that, like London's Olivier Awards, the Doras recognize openrnt all. Kenneih Jones writing in the New York-based Playbill On-Line of May 28 says "Unlike many other awards for theatre in other cities, the Doras recognize a range of perfonning arts , artists and production budgets in the categories of Independent Theatre, General Theatre, Dance, Opera and Theatre for Young Audiences." May the trend continue! Four operas produced by the COC received nominations for Outstanding Production- Die Walkure , Peter Grimes, Rigoleuo and Turandot. Opera Atelier was nominated for Persie. Nominated for Outstanding Performance were Laura Claycomb ( Rigoletto) , Adrianne Pieczonka and Clifton Forbis (Walkilre) , Serena Famocchia (Turandot) and Monica Whicher (Opera Atelier's Figaro). Given that a greater number of operas is produced in Toronto each season than the number of musicals, I find it odd that rp.usicals should be accorded separate awards for Direction, Musical Direction, Set Design, Costume Design, Lighting Desigil, Outstanding Performance by a Female. in a Principal Role and Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Principal Role, while opera must be content with only two categories. That being said, were I doing the nominating, I would have replaced Peter Grimes in the category for Outstanding Production. Despite marvellous singing the physical production was unattractive and Tim Albery's non-naturalistic direction was distracting. A far better candidate would be the COC's exciting Tosca. I would also split the category for Outstanding Performance four ways , into Principal and Featured Role, Male and Female. For Outs/muling Performance by a Femnle in a Principal Role , I would nominate Laura Claycomb as Gilda in Rigoletto, Adrianne Pieczonka as Sieglinde in Die Walkiire, Krisztina Szabo as Iphigenie in lphigenie en Tauride (OA) , Laura Whalen as Rosalinda in "Die Fledennaus" (To- :ro Forbis gets Hoile '.1· Grace Note nod ronto Operetta Theatre) and Monica Whicher as Merope in Persee (OA). For Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Principal Role, I would nominate Colin Ainsworth as Pylade in Iphigenie en Tauride, Daniel Belcher as Oreste in Iphigenie en Tauride, Clifton Forbis as Siegmund in Die Walkilre, Pavlo Hunka in the title role in Falstaff (COC) and Robert Longo as Bummerli in The Cliocolate Soldier (TOT). For Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Featured Role, I would nominate Elizabeth Beeler as Mascha in The Chocolate Soldier, Jane Henschel as Mistress Quickly and Elena Voznessenskaia as Nannena in Falstaff, Frederique Vezina as Ellen in Peter Grimes and Judit Nemeth as Fricka in Die Walkiire. For Outstanding Performance by a. Male in a Featured Role, I would nominate Alexander Dobson as Falke in Die Fledermaus, Pavlo Hunka as Hunding in Die Walkiire, Olivier Laquerre as boi:h Cephee and Meduse in Persee, Ayk Martirossian as Sparafucile in Rigoletto and Alan Opie as Captain Balstrode in Peter Grimes. Grace Notes Were I to give awards for opera in the 2003--04 season (my editor suggests they be called "Grace Notes") in the full array of categories available for plays and musicals , these would be my choices: Production: Persie because all of the complex elements of the production were kept in perfect balance; not fully the case in its nearest contender Die Walkiire. Outstanding Performance Female: A tie: Adrianne Pieczonka, Walkiire; Laura Claycomb, Rigoletto. Male: CW'ton Forbis, Walkiire. Featured Role Female: Judit Nemeth, Walkiire. Male: Alan Opie, Peter Grimes. Set Desilin: Michael Levine, Walkiire. Costumes: Dora Rust-D'Eye, Persee. Lighting: David Finn, Walkiire. Stage Direction: Marshall Pynkoski, Persee. .Musical Director: Richard Bradshaw for Walkiire. ' OPERA AT HOME (and this month, the cottage) by Phil Ehrensaft When only mad dogs are small children in your and Englishmen life and you want them go out in the noonday sun, hooked on opera, get or summer rains pour, it's Kent Nagano's animated time to pull out a disk from film adaptation of Vixen the ever>expanding catalogue for BBC/Naxos. of opera DVD's or hi-tech The circle will hoperestorations of historic re- fully be completed by a cordings. Both remain no- 1 DVD of Janacek's final table exceptions to current '" opera, an adaptation of recording industry doldrums. Dostoevsky's grim Memoirs From One new DVD stands out among the House of the Dead. Until then, the many fine titles that arrived in we have to make. do with the outmy reviewer's inbox during the last standing Mackerras/VPO recording six months: Kultur's Glyndebourne for London/Universal. Festival performance of Leos Janacek re-invented his musical Janacek's The Makropulos Case and dramatic stances in each succes­ (1926). Andrew Davis conducts the siveopera. Like Debussy, he "pushed LPO. Video direction by Brian Large the envelope" ,radically while soundis as good as it gets. ing knockdown gorgeous. But al- This extraordinary opera's extraor- ways new, right to the end. dinary central' character is a 337 year- After his death in 1928, his muold sexually driven d.iva whose im- sic relapsed into relative obscurity mortality is derived from an elixir of outside Czechoslovakia for three declife ·perfected by her physician fa- ades. The Gennan cornerstone of his ther. Janacek wrote his own libret- international reputation disappeared to, based on a comedy by Karel after the Nazi takeover: promoting a Copec. Where Copec explored. the Czech pan-Slavic nationalist was out. story's philosophic pros and cons, Relativetodominantcompositional Janacek probed the emotional state currents in the immediate postwar of a woman who had seen and done decades, Janacek's music was unit all. He would be proud of Anja fashionable. Relative to recent Silja's performance in the title role. trends, as Yale's Martin Bresnick If you attended the COC' s Jenu- underlines, Janacek blazed paths, placfa, you experienced the brilliance that ing passion and communication front finally gained fame, at 62, for the and centre in' experimental music. Czech composer. Although its 1904 So here's my proposal for a memp~emier: succee~ed iI:i ~mo, prov!11- . orable summer opera project: break cial .capital. ~f his nativ~ Moravia, open your piggy bank and get all musical po~tJcs blc;x:ked its per_f~rm- 1 the Janacek DVD's, plus The House ance at the ~ternatJonally pr~stlgious CDs. If you 're in cottage country Prag1,1e .NatJonal °?era und! 1~ 16 · and wanfto travel light, hook up a Interna~onal recogrntJ~n then msp~ laptop to modestly priced, entry-levtwelve ~tensely.creatJve years, nght el audiophile earphones or speakers. up to his death m 1928 For earphones the choice is between His first "mature" opera, Kat 'a the Grado SR-'60 Grado SR-80 or Kabanova, premiered in 1921. Ku!- the Grado SR-12S. The award-V:,intur ~as a st~rling Jen~fa DVD and a ning SR-60 yields impossibly good 1:at a that I d cal.I solid, both featur- sound for such a low price. mg Andre:v D~vis at

Music THEATRE SPOTLIGHT by Sarah B. Hood Korean, S. African shows headline in Toronto - It was postponed last year due to SARS, but The Ltzst Empress is now on its way to town in a coproduction with Mirvish. The first large-scale musical to tour internationally out of Korea, the show is about the life of legendary Queen Min of the Chosun Dynasty. "There are many big-budget musicals in Korea, but almost all of them· are foreign musicals," says producer Heehwan Lee. "We are the only one in Korea which draws · audience, ... for the last nine years." The Last Empress is a full, · sung-through musical with lavish production values, he points out. '"The cast itself is about 45. The music is not like Broadway show 'tunes, but it's not entirely Korean .. The melody is Korean, but the orchestrations are.westerllized. If you enjoy real singing, this is a must." "The show is filled with spectacular scenes and dances and singing all the way, but the story is so intense, and very, very emotional so it'll not only shake the audience, but also stir the audience - which James Bond never did," Lee quips: The Ltzst Empress opens August 10 at the Hummingbird Centre. Call 416-872-2262 or visit . www. thelastempress. com for more information. TALES OF THE TOWNSHIPS ·From South Africa comes Umoja (www. uinoj atheshow. com), a musical history of that country's rhythm, song 'and dance, as told by a large and talented cast of young performers. Many of the show's stars come from disadvantaged backgrounds in a country that has suffered gravely from its own political struggles. In fact, the joyous compilation of gospel, jazz, Zulu dance and other forms was partly created to give its performers a chance at a better life. · "The show is vibrant; it's energetic; its wonderful," says producer Lucy Hamlet of Y sis Entertainment, who is responsible for securing the show for Toronto. "The one thing that comes across is that the performances are so honest that it feels as though the young people are actually baring their souls." Umoja runs from August 5 to 22. For tickets, call 416-872-5555 or Umoja ON THE FRINGE The 16th annual Toronto Fringe Festival hits Toronto from June 30 to July 11. Among its 900 shows are musicals like Sleepless, The Musical, from the creators of Top Gun! The Musical. It's about the goings-on at the Hasta La Siesta Sleep Disorder Clinic, where nights are anything but restful. The cast has an impressive collective CV; this one looks like a very good bet. The satirical Waiting for Trudeau, The Return of the King promises rollicking Canadiana like "Oy! Manitoba!" and the "Double Talk Rag" (always popular at election time). The Divine Heretic takes up the Joan of Arc legend, beginning just after her death. The dynamite cast includes veterans· Ellen-Ray Hennessy; Valerie Buhagiar and A. Frank Ruffo. Chandeleirva is a clown piece about a diva with a tiara on her head and her heart on her sleeve. The Church of Dad brings a young woman named Mimi back to her hometown to re-examine the tenets of her childhood education. For more information on The 2004 Toronto Fringe Festival call 416-966-1062 or visit SUMMER GETAWAYS Dozens of small-town theatre festivals run all summer, and the Association of Summer Theatres 'Round Ontario (ASTRO) is your one-stop shop for all the details. ASTRO (416-408-4556, www. summertheatre:org) offers a great brochure and a searchable online database. Many of the summer's offerings are musicals, but we seem to be light on Canadian content this year. Among the exceptions: Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt's Two Pianos, Four Hands at the Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Jul Y 1 - SEPT 7 2004 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.Cq M · Dover; Dads! The Musical at the Bluewater Sµmmer Playhouse in Kincardine, and a new show called Strictly County by Layne Coleman and company at the Regent Theatre in Picton. Particularly intriguing is fiddler Anne Lederman '.s Spirit of the Narrows (July 20 to 23), part of the 30th anniversary celebrations at the Blyth Festival. Elsewhere you'll find Broadway hits, chamber _musicals, pastiches and revues galore. (Check our Music Theatre listings, page 44, for dates and times.) Once again this season, the "Just The Ticket" promotion has packaged theatre getaways at a variefy of price levels. For instance, there's the Laughter on ltzke Simcoe package, which includes two tickets to a Red Barn Theatre production in Jackson's Point, one night plus breakfast and dinner at The Briars Resort and Spa an9 a boat tour or kayak safari for 9 per person. The Classic Plays in a Classic Theatre package indupes two tickets to the Port Hope Theatre Festival, one night in a local B&B, cream tea, a discount dinner voucher and a gift package for 9 per person. There are toll-free numbers for each theatre; visit Www .justtheticket. ca. People wishing to come into Toronto should move quickly; they .only have until July 4 to take advantage of the "Even More For Even Less" promotion spearheaded by M.irvish Productions. Prrced at 9, thefirstofthesenewpackages includes one ticket to The Producers, Mamma Mia! or Hairspray, one night at a downtown hotel, a restaurant meal and a gift certificate for Roots. The second package includes all but the hotel for . Call TicketKing (416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333) _or visit TONY AWARDS Since June, the results of the 2004 Tony Awards have been stirring up predictions that Toronto will be seeing a production of Avenue Q, The Musical pretty soon. The puppet play about making it in New York (Sesame Street meets Friends) was named Best Musical, and also took home awards for Best Book and Best'Original Score. For the record, Stephen Sondheim's acerbic Assassins led the · musical field with five awards, including Best Revival. Wi_cked - already slated to play Toronto as part of the Mirvish lineup next year - won Best Scenic Design and Best Costume Design, as well as the Best Actress nod for Idina Menzel's "Elphaba". SPECIAL SERIES OFFER See all 3 operas for only Students & Seniors S30 Offer ends Mon.July 12 ar 5 pm Call 416-922-2912 31

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