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Volume 9 Issue 5 - February 2004

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  • February
  • Toronto
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OPERA ON DVD by Phil

OPERA ON DVD by Phil Ehrensaft The Magic of the Magic Flute MOZART'S GLORIOUS LAST operatic bow, Die 'Zauberjlote, joins Verdi and Puccini's final respective bows on Toronto stages this month. There are five choices among Zauberflote DVD's to prepare for a Royal Opera Canada performance of tl}e masterpiece: three are outstanding, two merely excellent. . Taken together, they are fine vehicles for comparing strategies for capturing opera on film, and for opera performance in general. THE GOLD STANDARD for carrying the stage magic of Mozart's masterpiece to screen in a skilled, straightforward manner is the 1991 Metropolitan Opera production reissued by Universal on DVD. There are takenotice performances by Kathleen Battle (Pamina), Kurt Moll (Sarastro)', and Manfred Hemm (Papageno). The real stars are the Met' s brilliant conductor, James Levine, and the hitherto just competent ensemble he transformed' into an or­ . chestra acclaimed at Carnegie Hall. Video director Brian Large provitles a model for the delicate camera art necessary to translate brilliant stage work into brilliant film. Sm COLIN DA VIS, DIRECTING the Royal Opera House in a 2003 production recorded live in surround sound at Covent Garden, presents a worthy challenger for the Zauberfli:ite throne (BBC/Naxos). The ROH/BBC disk w·ill receive attention in a future column. Take note: compressed surround sound audio files are best for watching the Governor of Califor- ' nia in Terminator X. Full spectrum stereo sound is better. The Met Zauberfiote stands even with the ROH in stereo. Still, if you have a giant screen. and energy-guzzling sound system, have fun spinning the BCC Zauberfli:ite. Music THEATRE SPOTLIGHT by Sarah B. Hood Black History Lights Up Stages Jackie Richardson er making its points with thudding earnestness, but always with lively wit and real humanity. Besides a half-dozen main speaking parts it stars a large chorus, the alwayscpresent ancestors of the family at the centre of the play. They use their voices and bodies to carry the story along with a melange of tunes and rhythms, including some familiar hymns and spirituals like "Listen to the Lambs" and "Abide with Me" . Richardson is not the only gifted 'vocalist in an outstanding per- AFRICAN HARMONIES forming ensemble. Adventures ... Strictly speaking, there are no Afro- runs until March 21 at the Harcentric musicals running this boutfront (formerly du Maurier) month, but since the African and Theatre Centre, but don't wait Caribbean traditions make relatively long to book, because tickets are On to our two silver medallists: I little distinction between the disci- already getting scarce. reviewed Image's period music pro- plines of music, dance and theaductionat Stockholm's intimate Drot- tre, it seems appropriate to list a COBA (Collective of Black Arth 01ces · runnmg · on ists) presents their annual maintingholm Theater, also the B~rgman few standout c film site, last July. A 1992 Lud- Toronto stages during Black His- stage show at the Premiere Dance wigsburger Festspiele production tory Month. Theatre from February 18 to 21, features good singing and postmod- , From February 23 to March 20 this year titled Middle Passage - em minimalist staging, if that's your ' CanStage presents a local produc- a journey from Africa to the Amerbag. (Arthaus/Naxos) tion of Pamela Gien's intemation- icas: The program 'features work al hit The Syringa Tree, which she by Alasanne Sarr from Senegal; THE FINAL GOLD STANDARD is Ingmar performed briefly at Harbourfront Jeanguy Saintus from Haiti, and Bergman's unorthodox but supreme- during this past year's World Stage. COBA cofounder Eddison Lindly effective cinematic rendition of the It's a tale of two families, one black say, newly back from a trip to Magic Flute (1975). While Berg- and one.white, growing up together Senegal. Also at Harbourfront, the man played with the opera's letter, in apartheid-ridden South Africa. annual multidisciplinary Kuilmba he totally seized its magic spirit, win- This edition alternates between festival highlights African heritning hearts and minds on both sides Yanna Mcintosh and Caro.line age with an array of arts programof the Atlantic. Criterion, a studio Cave, since the one-woman show ming, , ~·""'"'"'''"''u"/'/'%"'1"'/"""'''"""''/J/1~ devo~ed toDtrVansDfe~thring w~rld filhm is so demanding. In fact, Cave BUSY PRINCESS ~ 31 4 church i 11 A~• ~ classics to WI exactmg tee - traveled to South Africa to research Toronto. 0 n ta " 0 ~ nical standards, took charge of Berg- the part, which requires .the per- On January 4, Disney's ·The Lion ~ M2R 1 E7 Canada ? , Za be fl"' (d' "b · \T."d v · · ti I tth p · I Te l :4 1 6-224-1956 ~ mans u rote. istnutlon: ·I- formertopnrtraydozensofchar- f'!.mggaveitsmaroara e rm- ~ Fax : 416-224-2964 ~ Canada) acters in song and speech, with a cess of Wales Theatre after 1,560 ~ MIKROKOSMO www.mikrokosmos.com ~ Granted, Bergman altered the plot daunting array of accents . includ- performances. Next up, from Jan- ; ; and his singers performed a _Swed- ing Xhosa, one of the African Ian- uary 27 to February 29, the thea- ~ 'i ish translation of the libretto. The tre hosts the Royal Shakespeare We buy your. guages that use clicking sounds as ~ ~ great cinematic storyteller adored consonants. Cave confesses that Company's The Hollow Crown, ; classical LP ; opera, Zauberflote above all, and she's still having trouble master- a theatrical retelling of the history ~ J waited four decades before fulfilling i"ng her cli"cks "My friends all laugh of the British monarchy which, ~ collection ~ his dream of putting it on celluloid. at me," she says. though not quite a musical, does ~ - ~ His changes delivered Mozart's wit. include a few songs. It was creat- ,. and music with, exquisite precision. BLUES DIVA JACKIE RICHARDSON, ed by John Barton in 1961 for (classical, such as · Bergman's powerful overture scene · who thrilied audiences with her the RSC and has been filling seats ~ Beethoven, Mozart, ~ targets the rapt faces of an audience sold-out run in Cookin' at the ever since, always c4st with the ¢. ~ Stoc kh ausen ) ¢. ~ of .variegated ages and races, com- Cookery, h as rec I a1me . d a roe I th at finest stage stars. In fact, 1t . ' s a I - ~ ~ munic_ating the message that dead was made for her 'in Djanet Sears' ready played here ... back in 1963, ~ we t rave l a n y where ~ white man Mozart was expressing The Adventures of a Black Girl in fresh from a Broadway debut, as ~ f 0 r g 0 0 d c 0 l le ct i 0 n 5 ~ human quandaries and foibles for all Search of God. This heartfelt dra- part of the first Mirvish season at .,. ; .times and places. Amen. · ma is beautifully constructed, nev- the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Now ;;/A".·"'-1'""'"'""'"'""'"'/"':...: · "'::_"" ::....:::.""':.::'"_:'#'.:._/""----':._ ~ ______-..,.---;;w;uw"'wu_Ti rtt"'E'-wwHl/> o:ii L E'°" N;nOTITE" . c""ouM.------------ F"EB;oR:;-; U~f.;; RY;-T 1 -:- - 1MA.AuRU:c:;:; H;717120nion4

we see a version starring Vanessa Redgrave, Donald Sinden, Ian Richardson and Alan Howard. A great cast in any case, but we should feel doubly lucky to have them; an Asian tour with Sinden, Richardson, Derek Jacobi and Janet Suzman was postponed, then canceled due to SARS last year. Then from April 8 it's the multiple-Tony-winning Hairspray, based on the 1988 John Waters movie of the same name. If you want to set the mood, you might consider renting the film; it stars Ricki Lake as Tracy Turnblad, a teenage TV dance show star who uses the spotlight to fight racial segregation. Typically for a Waters film, ,the rest of the cast is a1,1 oddball A-list: Sonny Bono, Debbie ("Blondie") Harry, Ben's dad Jerry Stiller and Waters regular Divine. (If you still want more, ' try the 1990 Cry-Baby, a musical greaser/good girl romance with Lake and Johnny Depp.) Hands) Dykstra. . b. On February 21, Broadway star Calm Wilkinson of Les Miz and Phantom ·brings his one-man show, Some Of My Best Friends Are Songs, to Massey Hall. Expect a smorgasbord of show tunes. c. Then on February 28, Brantford's Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts presents music theatre diva Louise Pitre in a concert of her own. (Pitre's turn in Mamma Mia! was certainly one of the reasons for the show's prodigious success at the Royal Alex.) d. Buddies in Bad Times celebrates its silver anniversary this year, and so they're programming outstanding works from the past 25 years of the Rhubarb! Festival of new work along with lots of premieres. Week three (February 20 to 24) sees three musical pieces every night: I'd Kiss You But.., (originally mounted in 1990), Dennis Frey's Spaceman 2459 and Christina Jol's She Sends Her Regrets. ALSO NOTEWORTHY: e. A cut above the usual high a. Ryerson Theatre School of- school fare, shake off those winfers the popular A Funny ' Thing ter blahs with The Music Man, Happened on the Way to the Fo- coming to Earl Haig Collegiate rum from February 10 to 19, di- · Institute's Cringan Hall for three rected by Ted (Two Pianos, Four performances February 11-13 at 7:30pm. f. Finally, you 'II have to move quickly to catch the intriguing Variete, which only runs from January 29 to February 1 at the venerable Gladstone Hotel. It's a piece of music in elevep movements written in 1977 by Argentinian composer Mauricio Kagel, thought of by some as the father of experimental music theatre. Kagel's requirement is ,that a cabaret act be T ORONTO OPERA created for each of the eleven segments of the work, and a group of multidisciplinary artists like Peter Chin and Rebecca Hope Terry have been commissioned to contribute sections. It runs for four shows only (including a Sunday matinee). Details on all these and more can be found in our Music Theatre a.nd Opera Listings on page 46. RE;PERTOIRE l'~F

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