Sunday, April 27, 2008

Photo: Bruce Zinger/ Peggy Kriha Dye as Ilia in Mozart's Idomeneo

I may get shot for this, but I'm gonna 'fess up to something: I am probably the only person in Canada who isn't a Measha Brueggergosman fan. OK--I've said it. So while I was looking forward to Opera Atelier's Idomeneo the other night, I wasn't all aflap with Measha Madness myself. I tend to be more interested in (a) mezzo soprani and (b) the less celebrity-status singers. But I had a metanoia of sorts.

First, her hair won me over. Seriously. I like funky and this hair and makeup decision for a Mozart opera was definitely up my alley. I also felt this was a wonderful genre for Ms. B. I hadn't been hooked by her voice before (please: no death threats made up of cut-out little letters!). However, her ardent character still contained the performer and I enjoyed the result. Her vocal style and acting was true to Opera Atelier's texture. So. Measha Madness 30,000,001 : Measha Naysayers 0.

I was excited about seeing Michael Maniaci return to OA. You'd think there'd be a disconnect between a male soprano playing the protagonist lover (Idamante), but his performance was à la OA too (yes, that improper French elision was intentional) and he certainly delivered. As my companion said, 'He's just so operatic looking!'. Not quite sure what that means, but I agree with it.

As usual, this company pulled out all the stops in visuals. Their trompe l'oeil backdrops were stunning, including an incredibly faithfully rendered oculus in the main hall set. I do hope in future we can diverge from the somewhat predictable billowing fabric for waves and go somewhere with their usual inventiveness and daring. There were other production elements that had different seams than usual, but the Talent with the Trident made one overlook these changes! I personally found Kresimir Spicer's Idomeneo not to be sympatico with the company's feel. I felt his personalized acting and non-stylized movements incongruent with the rest of the cast and the production. But that's me just asking for more poison pen letters, I guess....

One final note: why do people deem it acceptable to talk through overtures and beyond??? Does the orchestra not 'count'? If anyone knows where I can find a well-behaved audience, please advise me because Torontonians are extremely rude; I find this at all the arts events I attend. If you do know of a performer-friendly audience, let's transport them over to the Elgin, because Opera Atelier (amongst other artists) deserves respect and the highest regard. Shame on ignorant audiences! They distract the rest of us who are there to take in world-class art.

Kudos to the artists led by artistic directors Marshall Pynkoski and Jeanette Zingg who once again are offering a sumptuous feast for the heart, mind and soul. Idomeneo continues to May 3rd.

Coming to the Father is Messy Business


©V.Wells, 2008

Opera and I are Like THIS


Suitable for our Beautiful Refuse

HOWBlog brings you the perfect container for your beautiful trash :

check out the other cool patterns through Umbra too.

Concert by the Toronto Classical Singers

Sunday May 4th at 4pm, The Toronto Classical Singers under Jurgen Petrenko will perform Haydn's The Creation. Guests are the Talisker Players, Marion Samuel-Stevens, soprano, Lenard Whiting, tenor and Gregory Dahl, baritone. The concert takes place at CCDP and tickets are $25/$20sr/$15st. 416 443 1490 for info.

The Red Wheelbarrow

Here's a neat little film based on a poem. Watch The Red Wheelbarrow on YouTube.

Concert for the Kids (Under 30s)


Sound Ministry is holding another of its worship concerts/jams in downtown Toronto Saturday May 3rd at 8pm. You can ck out their Facebook or Myspace for more details.

The Christian Artist

Mark Powell has posted this clip on YouTube which may be of interest. He discusses the place of the artist in the church--in reality and ideally. Watch The Christian Artist here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fantastic Ruins with Saint Augustine and the Child


'In a vision Saint Augustine saw a child trying to empty the sea into a hole dug in the sand; when Augustine told him that this was impossible, the child replied that Augustine was engaged on the equally impossible task of explaining the Trinity.' From the National Gallery (London) website.

Idomeneo Teasers

Photo: Bruce Zinger/ Peggy Kriha Dye as Ilia in Mozart's Idomeneo
click on photo to enlarge
Photo: Bruce Zinger/ Curtis Sullivan as Neptune, Jeannette Zingg, and Vasil Garvanliev as Neptune's Grand Priest in Mozart's Idomeneo

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Another Ignudus!


As per a previous post, don't forget that Opera Atelier's Idomeneo begins this week! To recap: this is Measha Brueggergosman's Mozart opera debut with this company for six performances between April 26th and May 3rd at the Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge Street). Tickets are $30 to $165 and are available through TicketMaster 416-872-5555, on-line at www.ticketmaster.com or at the Elgin Theatre box office.

Idomeneo is the story of "the Greek hero of the Trojan War who is forced to choose between the life of his son and a terrible promise he has made to Neptune, the god of the sea. This production promises to be a once in a lifetime event and will feature the only man in the world capable of singing the role of Idamante - the extraordinary American male soprano, Michael Maniaci." (Source: Opera Atelier website). I have heard him before, and he is something to behold! Then again, so is the Tafelmusik Orchestra. This promises to be yet another production of OA that is fit to satisfy the worst hedonists!

'Consumption Mania'


An interesting film came across my desk which demystifies how we got to this insane level of consumption, advertising power and obsolescence. The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard is a neat little animated film. See if you can beat your demand for instant gratification and sit through the whole thing!

An Orchestra of Note

Next Jazz Vespers hosts a tribute to Duke Ellington with over a dozen outstanding musicians, such as Robi Botos, Scott Alexander and Brian Barlow, next Sunday April 27th at 4:30 pm. Visit CCDP for details and directions.

Another B&W Photographer

A colleague referred me to the website of Elaine Ling, a photographer with some stunning pictures to her credit. I was particularly taken with the images of abandoned structures in the desert. You can see these and other samples of her portfolio on her website.

Anti-Capitalism


Following The Story of Stuff, you might be inspired to go out and by some Black Spots, either the cool anti-sneaker and the unswoosher endorsed by Adbusters. To check out these and other cool products that attempt to raise consumer consciousness, go to Blackspot's website. Better yet, tick off Nike and buy some renegade runners.

Magazine Recom


For contemplatives and theologians, there is Image: Art, Faith, Mystery a journal to subscribe to and also check out online. Relevant contributors and subjects, such as (currently) Annie Dillard. A publication of value.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

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Ashes vs Bodies Debate

I was recently repulsed by an exhibit of photography I saw on the Guardian website in the UK--a series of pictures taken before and after a subject's death. These are unflinching looks at sickness and death. I am no stranger to deathbed experiences, but I found this exploration very distasteful. Which is weird considering I had no problem with an exhibit last year by Spring Hurlbut that I saw, which was photographs of people's cremated remains. Hurlbut's exhibition caused a lot of controversy, but I found it absolutely gorgeous and very tasteful . Why a corpse photographed against a black background freaks me out but ashes against a black background is ok, I don't know, but that's me. Check out the two links above and see where your opinion lies.

Not Nauseatingly Chichi


Chichi Parish is a fun blog you might like to check out if you like cartooning~

Artist Portraits


Friends at ECVA (Episcopal Church and the Visual Arts) have posted an online exhibit of member artists' self portraits which is multi-media and very varied! Check out the offerings of American Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans. They also have links to a directory of artists and an art and faith database on the homepage.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Slideshow of New York's Yesteryear


While my friend is in New York City this week, it reminds me of this slideshow of photos by Boris Klapwald that I found in the New York Times. Here is the link for the slideshow of which the following is one image:

Measha Mania!

The opera seria Idomeneo will see Measha Brueggergosman's Mozart opera debut with Opera Atelier for six performances in late April and early May at the historic Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge Street). Tickets are $30 to $165 and are available through TicketMaster 416-872-5555,
on-line at www.ticketmaster.com or at the Elgin Theatre box office. (Trust me, Opera Atelier is worth double those prices). I will highlight OA's offering again closer to the time, but wanted to post this to enable you to get tickets before they sell out.

Movie Recom!

I went to a preview screening last week of one of the best movies of the year, but one which might be overlooked by many due to initial reactions to its subject: a choir of senior citizens. So??, you ask. These people ROCK--and I mean literally! Get this: octogenarians singing songs by Coldplay, The Clash, Radiohead, The Ramones, James Brown... And they aren't drugged or brainwashed or under duress~they're having a hoot. One fellow even practised by watching MTV videos on his computer! As another, Stan, says, 'I'm just trying to expand my horizons.' I know 45 year olds who are more Jurassic than these youngsters. This documentary will make you both laugh your head off and break your heart. You will fall in love with these people, who sing under the direction of 53-year old Bob Cilman in New England. This was the best 2 hours I've had in ages. It is so good, I am taking my sociology class to see it as a field trip as it ties into a recent study unit, but I know it will be the best trip at school this year! I know I rave about a lot of films, but do not miss out on this beaut. It's popcorn all the way!! (That's the equivalent to a 5 star rating on Beautiful Feet). Thanks to a rep for facilitating this review. Go here to watch the trailer.

Call for Submissions

Tapestry New Opera's Lib-Lab 2008 has issued their call for submissions for composers and librettists. The laboratory is an intensive 10-day programme pairing and repairing these artists in opera collaboration, culminating in presentations some months later. I've seen the results several times (see previous posts), and I know the participants find immense growth and satisfaction from this creative endeavour. To learn more about how to participate in the lib-lab, pls go to their website for details. Composer Bill Rowson at work during the 2007 LibLab

Din Ding vs. Jojo

We have a talented artist orang-utan at the Toronto Zoo, and I actually dig his pictures. But I will concede that these elephants' art is pretty amazing. Check out their work here and a video of one doing it here (click on the video button and ignore the commercial). Thanks to my friend Jan in Alabama for these links on her website, Digital Art Advocate. Above is one I like.

CD Recom


Found a cool singer-songwriter this week: David Myles of Halifax. You can go to his site and check out some mp3 clips; I recommend his cd, On the Line, due out April 29th. You can buy it through the site also. I found the song, Cape Breton, refreshingly non-celtic. Ok, call me Toronto-centric. He has outstanding reviews; pay attention to this guy in the future.

Definitely Not Masterpiece Theatre...

It's young and hip and fresh! I discovered a summer camp for young artists in Tennessee called Masterpiece Ministries. Ck out their cool website, and after reading the testimonials page, please give your prayer (or other) support, as you are able.

JV on the One Three

Next Jazz Vespers is Sunday April 13th at 4:30pm, featuring the Kelly Jefferson Trio (sax, piano, bass). Come chill at CCDP and enjoy some of the finest jazz artists in the city.

Call for Volunteers

If you are a photography buff looking to be altruistic short-term, you might consider volunteering for the CONTACT photography festival taking place in May in Toronto. To check out their application process, go to their info page about the details.

Featured CONTACT Exhibition

One of the CONTACT Festival exhibitions I hope to get to is that of Osheen Harruthoonyan, which is taking place at Pikto. You can preview some work here. Looking forward to that and many other shows. Ck out the CONTACT directory magazine or view the info at their guide page.