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Sunday, September 21, 2014

First-Person: Director Joel Ivany on Carmen (Vancouver Opera)

Michel St. Aubin's costume design

Conquering Carmen (x 2)
by Joel Ivany

Carmen is a stage director's dream. This piece has it all. Rich characters, a juicy story and tunes that seep into our minds and hearts.  

This is the first production of Carmen that I've had the pleasure to direct and I'm also excited to be making my debut with one of Canada’s great opera companies, Vancouver Opera.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: (Montreal) Densité d'un moment/In Mixed Company (Dance)

In Mixed Company (photo by Frédéric Chais)

The Density of Moments
by Chad Dembski, Editor - Dance

Densité d'un moment
The first piece presented in a double bill of works that opens Tangente's season, Densité d'un moment, is a 30 minute six-person performance from recent Université de Québec à Montréal (UQAM)  dance graduates.  The piece explores the density of a moment, how it is experienced differently by each person in that moment, both the active participant and the observer. 

Having been to the Studio space at Monument National a few times I am constantly surprised how a small, seemingly limited space can be transformed with limited resources.

Essay: Approaching Dance, Part I

The Fine Art of Approaching Dance
by Kallee Lins (Charlebois Post Dance Editor)

Introduction: Writing and talking about dance is something that intimidates a lot of people.  As a performance scholar (who is going on a lot of dates these days), I am often met with blank stares at the inevitable response to inquiries about my area of study.  Even worse, my conversational counterpart will attempt to hypothesize what the study of dance entails, asking something like, “PhD in dance? Is that mostly routines or do you look at historical and social context too?” 

Setting aside the fact that such a statement is reductive of both dance and academic inquiry, what these exchanges have taught me is that, in the eyes of many people, dance does not seem to function as art in the same way other disciplines do.  We expect art to speak to us, to tell us something about the world, to communicate something that cannot be articulated in more mundane ways. Why would artists spend years learning the conventions and techniques of their discipline and fostering their own aesthetic, and then sink weeks, months or even years into rehearsal or studio production if what they had to say could be articulated in an essay or press release?  And yet, observers continue to believe (whether they acknowledge it or not) that if what happens on a stage, canvas or screen cannot, in turn, be stated in words, then it does not have anything to say.  Dance, with its chronic underfunding and lack of visibility in schools compared to music, drama and the visual arts, is particularly susceptible to this fallacy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Abominable Showman, September 17, 2014

The Italian Stallion
The foremost Verdi baritone of his generation Paolo Gavanelli makes his grand Opera de Montreal debut in the title role of Nabucco
by Richard Burnett 

The eminent British classical music critic Hugh Canning once described Italian Baritone Paolo Gavanelli as “the foremost Verdi baritone of his generation.”

And certainly Gavanelli has been one of the most successful, with a repertoire of over 50 roles in a career that has spanned over 30 years. He is renowned for his signature roles: Rigoletto, Macbeth, Simon Boccanegra, Falstaff and, of course, Nabucco, which he will reprise in his L’Opera de Montreal debut opposite Russian soprano Tatiana Melnychenko as Abigaille.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Captured, September 15, 2014

The process...
Tangente has created a fascinating interview/extracts video of Emily Gualtieri and David-Albert Toth's In Mixed Company, and, as the co-creators say of their process "the politics of creation". (Video in French, interviews in English) (September 19-21)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

First Person: Librettist Sharon Singer on Isis and Osiris (Opera)

How an ancient Egyptian myth is being reincarnated into a new Canadian opera
Isis and Osiris by Sharon Singer and Peter-Anthony Togni is in development 
by Sharon Singer (Librettist)

Toronto-born Sharon Singer is a published poet, librettist, journalist, and spoken word performer, known for her dramatic monologues. In addition to four published books, Ms Singer's work has been included in poetry journals and anthologies. More than 15 years ago, Sharon Singer began collaborating with musicians who wrote soundscapes to accompany her spoken word performances. This resulted in her work being set to classical and jazz music for the CDs Hail, Canadian Art Song and Global Warming, a collaboration with renowned New York jazz saxophone player Bob Mover. In 2008 Philip McConnell composed music for Sharon Singer's short story The Museum and  her documentary poem, The Burning Book both of which she  performed with the Toronto Sinfonietta Orchestra at the Royal Ontario Museum. Isis and Osiris is her first opera libretto. The opera’s initial public performance took place at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Anyone who has ever been to my home sees evidence of my love for ancient Egypt.  There is the six foot tall poster of Ramses the Great, purchased at a Ramses le Grand exhibit of monumental sculpture in Paris in 1976.  My kitchen towels are Egyptian themed and in the living room is the Egyptomania poster from the 1979 exhibit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. I have been enchanted by ancient Egypt since high school trips from Oakwood Collegiate Institute took me to the Royal Ontario Museum where I first saw mummies, scarabs, shwabti, and mysterious hieroglyphic symbols. From there I amassed a comprehensive collection of books about Egypt, and even sculpture reproductions. For many years I attended the all-day Symposium put on by the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Abominable Showman, September 12, 2014

Marie-Nicole Lemieux (photo by Denis Rouvre)

Opera Nation
Canadian opera companies stick to crowd-pleasing Italian masterpieces to anchor their 2014- 2015 seasons
by Richard Burnett 

The upcoming 2014-2015 opera season across Canada continues to rely on old Italian classics by such tried-and-true composers as Gaetano Donizetti and Giacomo Puccini. And the biggest buzz this season is the return of the Canadian Opera Company’s internationally-hailed double-bill of Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Arnold Schoenberg’s Erwartung, directed by Robert Lepage.

Vancouver Opera’s upcoming 55th season features four productions: Georges Bizet’s Carmen, in French with English translations projected above the stage (Sept 27 – Oct 5); Stickboy, a moving new opera by world-renowned spoken-word artist Shane Koyczan and composer Neil Weisensel about the inner life of a young boy (Oct 23 – Nov 7, at the Vancouver Playhouse); Johann Strauss, Jr.’s melody-filled epic Die Fledemaus (Feb 28 – March 8, 2015); and to close the season with a bang, Stephen Sondheim’s darkly comical Sweeney Todd, starring real-life husband and wife Greer Grimsley, one of the great bass-baritones of his generation, as Sweeney Todd, and acclaimed mezzo-soprano Luretta Bybee as Mrs. Lovett (Apr 25 – May 3, 2015). All performances (except Stickboy) are at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.