From the opening notes of Rossini’s “Guillaume Tell” opera overture to the closing (audience-participating)’ Va Pensiero’ from Verdi’s “Nabucco”; POPERA 2015 had three distinct entities showcased, and one lone (musical) arranger who, even out of context, brought out some of the essence of operatic arias. Entity one certainly had to be the polished members of the National Academy orchestra whose faultless technique and instrumental skill shone throughout. Under the batons of conductor Boris Brott and his apprentice Janna Sailor; the ensemble plus the seven vocalists worked as a harmonious unit.
Director Peter Hinton’s skillful weaving of modern trends among the classical themes in the Shaw Festival’s production of Pygmalion, grabs the audience’s attention right from the start. The atmosphere is foreboding, contemporary, and prophetic. By placing the action in present day London, this production takes the emphasis away from the sexism of Henry Higgins, played by Patrick McManus, to focus on the modern generation of unemployed youth among out of touch elites. The focal point is on the class struggle–even more pronounced than it was in 1912. Photo by Emily Cooper
Review by Judith Caldwell
The Brott Summer Festival’s High Tea with Giampiero was presented at the Royal Botanical Gardens on Sunday. The National Academy Orchestra and clarinetist Giampiero Sobrino offered a very full and satisfying program. It began with a work by Montreal composer Allan Belkin titled ‘Night Passages’ which did carry the listener along fascinating paths, with intriguing surprises- as promised. It was tonal, harmonic and reminiscent of traditional European works and received emphatic applause.
Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto (one of my personal favourites) is one of those rare works where all three movements are equally well known and loved.
The National Academy Orchestra of Canada under the baton of Boris Brott offered a Romantic and Fantastic evening of music to a sold-out audience despite the competition from the opening ceremonies of the Pan Am Games. The evening began with some new music from a young Canadian composer, Jordan Pal, who was in the audience. “‘Burn’ brings to mind the qualities, characteristics and properties of fire: its volatile, destructive and unpredictable nature; and its often overlooked sublime and evanescent states” according to the helpful and descriptive program notes.
Review By Judith Robinson
Some cages are gilded with gold. But no one wants to be trapped for too long, according to playwright, J.M. Barrie, in The Ten Pound Look. Barrie, the author of ‘Peter Pan’, was an apparent champion of women’s rights. It certainly appears so in this 1910 comedic drama that focuses on the hard fought freedom of a wealthy man’s wife. With the price of a portable typewriter (ten pounds), Moya O’Connell, as Kate, has managed to escape from her dictatorial husband, Sir Harry Sims, played by Patrick Galligan. Photo by David Cooper
Review By Judith Robinson
When Pope Joan, powerfully played by Claire Jullien, in Shaw Festival’s production of ‘TOP GIRLS’ tells her tragic tale of being dragged off by the heels and stoned to death, the audience hardly took a breath. It was the most poignant moment in the play. No one moved as Jullien talked about unexpectedly giving birth on horseback during a religious pageant and exposing herself as that unacceptable human form—female. Although the production is filled with passionate, desperate moments, nothing could compare to that alleged heart-wrenching tragedy from the 9th century,