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Volume 9 Issue 4 - December 2003

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OPERA ON DVD, CONTINUED While Muti employs mostly young or less known but very, very talented performers, Levine goes for the marquee. Ambrogio Maestri, only 31 years o)d at the time of his remarkable performance, is totally convincing as the aging and distended Sir John Falstaff. - Barbara Frittoli is a brilliant, bemused Mrs. Alice Ford. Shakespeare himself would have savored Bernadette Manca di Nissa's Mrs. Quickly. Placido Domin~o as Calaf, Eva Marton as Turandot, Leona Mitchell as Liu, and Paul Plishka as Timur: that's the Met, say no more. The performances are worthy of the naiµes. On the technical side, the visual Michael Therriault and sonic qualities of )3uroArts' brand new Falstaff production are RISING STAR knock-down-gorgeous. Thanks Since last issue I've had a chat with to a distribution agreement with Michael Therriault, who plays Leo Naxos, EuroArts DVD's are now Bloom (the Matthew Broderick part} available in North America. Won- in The· Producers, and it turns out derful. Cameramen in Italy have that his career is a fascinating sketch the longest and deepest experience of the local music theatre scene. The of filming opera for both large and Oakville native- graduated from small screens. Cinematic compe- Sheridan's music theatre program, tence shines here, but _the camera then took a non-paying job in a benwork doesn't evoke wows. efit performance of A Chorus Line Turandot's camera work, direct- because "it's really important when ed by Kirk Browning is wow after you get out of school to keep wor)cwow. It's a model of how to use ing," he says. cameras to enhance drama. The The benefit led to a paid part in a big Levine-Zeffirelli stage can revuecalledLullabyofBroadwayin verge on way too many things St. Jacobs, which brought him yet going on. Browning knows how more work. Eventually; "I had an to makes it coherent on the small audition for Stratford, and at my auscreen. In a market still dominat- dition they were ready to let me ed by reissues, Deutsche Gramm- leave, but Tim French - who is acophone' s Turandot first appeared tually working in this show - he in 1988, but this reissue stands out · stood up and said 'Wait-a minute, frbm the crowd. Originally filmed Michael, try it this way,' and I got and recorded in digital format for the part," says Therriault. / Music THEATRE SPOTLIGHT . by Sa'rah B. Hood The Making of a Producer BIBBIDl-BOBBIDl-BOO Throughout December, while Therriault is onstage at the Canon Theatre, a couple of his friends are just ·down the block at the Elgin. In last summer's Hunchback of Notre Dame at Stratford he played opposite Jennifer Gould, who sports glass slippers in the Christmas panto Cinderella. Also,, "Adan;i Brazier p_lays the prince," says Gould, adding that "We were all in Camelot together." Gould, who also played the title role in Stratford's Gigi this past year, says she's enjoying her first panto experience. "It's a lot of fun to be backstage. If you're rehearsing King Jennifer Gould Lear, nobody's backstage peeing says he was drawn to Hunter betheir pants with laughter," she points cause of the "pure, unadulterated joy out by way of comparison. for what she does and the ability to Cinderella features original songs make that contagious among the peoby music theatre veteran David War- · pie experiencing her. " Seems Richrack, as well as "songs pulled' from ardson channels the same quality. other ·musicals," she says. "Noth- Also, ' you have until December ing so recognizable that it takes you 15 to catch Tequila Vampire Mati­ Ol)t of the experience; a few of the nee at Theatre Passe Muraille. This songs that I sing are out of musicals writer enjoyed its affectionate genre like Sunset Boulevard and The Se- stacking, with plenty of borrowings cret Garden." from .vaudeville, opera and movie NIETZSCHE IS PIETZSCf-!E musicals (there's a number that's es- Job: The Hip' -Hoip Saga runs until sentially an extended homage to Donald'O'Connor's "Make 'Em Laugh" December 14. In case you think of hip-hop as a lowbrow genre, know bit in Singin' in the Rain). "I think that autllor/performers Jerome Sai- it's clear to me that musicals are combil and Eli Batalion are no intellectu- ing·back, big-tinle," says author/coma! pushovers. poser Kevin Quain. "I don't think Their first show was a hip-hop -they went anywhere." retelling of the Book of Job, while BRING ON THE.GIRLS! their second focuses on the charac- Two more shows of note: Damien ters of MCs Cain and Abel: How- Atkins bdngs Real Live Girl back ever, reports Saibil, "thete isn't a to Buddies in Bad Times from Declose association with Cain and Abel cember 11 to 21. It's been slightly in the Bible. In fact there's a close revamped (no pun intended) since it a technically excellent Laser Disk, The show was Camelot and the it is now even better on DVD. part was Mordred. "Bill Hutt came association with a Nietzschean con- won Doras fot Outstanding New Both DVDs record live perform- and saw that show and he was thinkances. For Faust, it's evident that ing of doing The Tempest a year nal Recurrence. Basically, Nietzsche ance last year. The original featured cept knwn as the Demon of Eter- Musical and Outstanding Perform­ the audience is tickled-pink by the later and he said he wanted me for challenged his readers 'What if one such numbers as "Roxy" from Chiday a demon would come up to you cago; "Wigin a Box" from Hedwig intimate performance. For Turan- Ariel." Therriault has spent seven dot, the typical Met audience "show years with Stratford, with winters at and tell you that the whole of your and the Angry Inch; "Just One Step" me; I'm from New York or just theatres like The Grand or Theatre life would be repeated exactly as you from Songs for a New World, and flew over from Berlin" dissolves Orangeville. "A lot of those smaller have done it - would you fear this "The Blonde Song" from Gun Metdemon or would you welcome him?' al Blues. "They're all united because into rampant, unrestrained enthu- companies, they're great to work for siasm. Domingo's Nessun Dor- and they do great, great' plays,". he We're also going to be writing a they say something about femininimajor rock opera inspired by some ty," says Atkins, who performs the ma brings forth a rare shower of asserts. "Just the fact that they don't program notes, flowers, and bra- have a giant budget doesri't mean of the concepts of rationality and ir- piece solo. vos. Multiple curtain calls respond that you won't have a great evening." rationality," he confide~ . to a crowd that really is quite be- Of course Therriault is delighted Finally, Artword Theatre presents side itself. to be appearing in what may well be LAST CALLS . Sur from November 27 to Decem­ The Met Turandot, more than this year's biggest musical opening Cookin' .at the Cookery has been ber 14. Adapted by Ronald Weihs any other operapvD_ that I've seen in southern Ontario. "It is a precarto date, and that's qmte a few, gets ious business," he says, adding that Jackie Richardson has been wow- (A Wizard of Earthsea), it uses orig­ extended to December 6, since star from a story by Ursula K. Le Guin closest to the magic of a one-in-a- part of the joy of a steady job is ing ·Crowds with her portrayal of inal music to tell the "what-if' tale thousand live performance. being able to afford to pick and blues diva Alberta Hunter. The of a group of women who set out to choose later contracts. show's creator Marion J. Caffey conquer the South Pole in 1910. 32 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM D ECE MBER 1 2003 - FEBRUARY 7 2004

·BooK SHELF by Pamela Marg/es "! wriggle with Puccini", Glenn Gould once told an interviewer, adding that Pu,ccini 's music made him "intensely uncomfortable''. Puccini would undoubtedly have been outraged by Gould's co'!­ tempt for composers' markings. But both Gould and Puccini move audiences in a way few other CO"fposers and performers ever have. These outstanding biographies go a· long way towards elucidating what makes their work so compelling and enduringly popular. GOUL-9 Wondrous Strange: The Life · and Art of Glenn Gould by Kev~n Bazzana McClelland & Stewart 534 pages .99 T!if f..h'i• (1>:d ··'Irr ,•/ GLENN GOULD the humanity and sense of moral mission that permeates his work. To Bazzana, this organized modernist was at heart a romantic idealist. Some of Gould's notorious eccentricities, according to Bazzana, actually served his music making - though others might well have shortened his life, Because of the position it forced him to sit in, .the famous low tilting chair, made by his father, that Gould took everywhere fostered his determination to "challenge rather than seduce or intoxicate his audience" with a playing style where precise articulation, transparent textures a?d extremes of tempo were more important than volume. Bazzana explori;!s the unacknowledged influence of Gould'.s only piano teacher apart from his mother, Alberto Guerrero, who emphasized the strength and independence of fingers. Bazzana's. system of annotations is confusmg and leads to writers like Schoen- , berg and Northrop Frye, among others, being quoted with no . sources noticeably attributed. The revealing photographs are a welcome addition to this largely su- . perb book. PUCCINI Puccini: His Life·and Works by Julian Budden · Oxford University Press 537 pages .00 Puccini: A Biography by Mary Jane Philips-Matz Northeastern University Press 364 pages .00 Of the six operas the Canadian . Opera Company is producing ~1s. year, two are by Giacomo Puccm1. Puccini's operas invariably attract sell-out crowds, more so th~n those of any other composer. These two superb new musical bi- ographies provide insights into the evolution of Puccini's distinctive voice. , . Both Mary Jane Phillips-Matz The amount of literature concerning Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, who died suddenly in 1982 at the age of fifty, is overwhelming. Kevin Bazzana himself has published a detailed analysis of Gould's performance style. But his and Julian Budden have written definitive new biography of Gould extensively on Verdi, and they provides a remarkably balanced both are immersed in Puccini's life perspective on both the man and and music, Budden in particular as his music. · President of the Centro Studi Gi- Bazzana, the editor of acomo Puccini in Puccini's Tuscan GlennGould Magazine, has done hometown of Lucca. Both books an enormous amount of research. benefit from outstanding research, Above all, he has studied Gould's and feature generous quotations, recordings, as well as his pioneer- especially from Puccini's letters ing 'contrapuntal' radio and televi:· and, in Budden's case, scores. But sion documentaries. Bazzana eluc1- these two books are quite differdates Gould's musical ideas with ent. Indeed, they complement each clarity and elegance, underlining other. D ECEM BER 1, 200J - FE BRU A RY 7 2004 Philips-Matz gives a vibrant s~nse of Puccini·'s character. A styhsh, witty writer, she has a knack for desctiptivfC colour and anecdote. She has a strong feeling for the locale where Puccini grew up in a family of church organists. She shares her passion for the performance history of each opera, using her extensive experiences .­ interviewing performers and family members, including Puccini's adored grand-daughter, Elvira, who herself gained fame as the fashion designer Mme. Bikki, and soprano Gilda Dana Riz~a, the first Magda in La Rondme. Budden is masterful at describing Puccini's music, and articulating what makes it so gr~a.t. For him, it is the way Puccm1 uses a recurring musical motif "like a prism giving out a dif~erent.col?u.r according to the way m which 1t is tilted". His detailed analyses of how Puccini brilliantly matches the music to the dramatic action are fascinating enough for us to forgive his calling the beloved Canadian tenor Edward Johnson, who sang in the Italian premiere of II trittico, an American.(Phillips-Matz gets it right). Phillips-Matz:s favorite Puccini WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM opera is La fanciulla del West. Budden, who defends Alfano's completion of Turando~, ~hoos~s that opera, which Puccm1 was JUSt finishing when he died, as the "summit of Puccini's achievement". But Puccini.himself; while, working on Turandot, in a letter quoted by Phillips-Matz, called La Rondine "my- most beautiful op~ era". ·" LAUGHS The Music Lover's Quotation Book by David Barber Sound And Vision 186 pages .95 Opera Arfo !'t-~iy ·foi: l1 ku1gh'l. '•·"'·"'"'""'······ .,_1...,..t-::.,...,r•w• .Quotable Opera: · Aria ready for l\ laugh? by Stephen and Nancy Tanner Sound And Vision 136 p~ges .95 These two new collections ·of quotations and anecdotes will amuse, entertain and even edify. Inevitably, some entries will appeal to individual readers more than others., Some are hilarious, some quite moving, and some I just don't get at all. But someone will, and that is the charm of collections like these. Both books are organized 1 around topics, with indices and illustrations. I am puzzled that Quotable Opera includes the wor~ 'Laugh' in the title, when s?me ~f their most piquant quotes, hke this from Puccini to the librettist of Turandot, "Create for me something that will make the world weep", are quite seri?us. · . The Music Lover's Quotation 'Book offers the advantage of a broader range of topics. Barbe~ includes the sources of'his quotes, as do tJle Tanners, but Barber also identifies them. As tenor Leo Slezak said (quoted in Barber's book) when the mechanical swan in Lohengrin left , ~ithout him, "What time is the next swan?" • 33

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