Sunday, May 31, 2009

from Eternally Cool Blog: Pope Sergius on the Street; it’s an image from Piazza Magione in Palermo depicting Pope Sergius (reigned 687-701), the first Pope born in Palermo. By street artists Sten and Lex.

Kids' Summer Arts Camps

They will be in Guelph, at Crimea Street Studio. 4 sessions: Fantastic Fantasy July 6-10. Ages: 8-10... Passion for Painting July 13-17. Ages: 11-13...Making Faces August 17-21. Ages: 8-10...Bust-it-open Bookworks August 24-28. Ages: 11-13
Run by artist Phil Irish, profiled below. For more info contact him via or on Facebook.

Film Recom

DAKOTA, a quirky Canadian film which you know is refreshingly different, but ya don't realize what it is until they mention toonies! Good fun, not too heavy AND it's got a couple of tracks by Royal Wood whom I've plugged here previously.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Interview with Scott Belluz, The Shadow

Scott Belluz, Countertenor © V.Wells 2009

I had a meet-up after the press night for Tapestry’s The Shadow with that role’s artist, countertenor Scott Belluz. We had an engaging conversation about new opera works, music education and his performance in this new opera by Omar Daniel and Alex Poch-Goldin. [What follows is my paraphrase of our discussion and any errors or omissions are entirely mea culpa.]

I commented that I knew a teenager who was totally hooked on Tapestry Opera, and wondered what was the appeal of this company that it could be considered a cool entertainment option for the partying demographic. Scott felt that it was twofold in nature. The subject matter of Tapestry’s productions is very current which is atypical of what we usually think of as opera, so the content is automatically appealing. He also pointed out that the youth of the composers and librettists and performers involved also contributes to a common, current worldview, and the material is therefore very much of this time.

Chatting about music education and the pitfalls of the more traditional system—such as the potential to be pigeonholed and therefore restricted from growth in new directions—we segued into a discussion about stereotypes. We tend to think of tenors as playing the love interests/protagonists, so I asked why the countertenor’s range fits the malevolent Shadow. It works, but it seems contradictory. Scott offered several enlightening reasons. If we take the Jungian idea about the totality of the human being the sum of the feminine and masculine in us, then the countertenor as male in body and “female” in range is actually very á propos. And, as he pointed out, the humanity is really the essence of the matter, not the gender or its implications—and if we are unsettled by any of this countertenor stuff, it’s really our issue and a result of our socialization. Finally, the singer also said that because more roles are now being written for countertenors, which are inherently going to be different and new to our sensibilities, this will break the mold in some areas.

Speaking of sexuality etc., I asked Scott if he had intentionally crafted his performance to be very sexy or if that was a result of direction. He said he had been surprised to have this reaction from others as well, because it was not a conscious creative decision but came from the music itself. Interesting how greed and covetousness go hand in hand with seduction….

Promoted as "an allegory for our time," The Shadow centers on issues around guile, hidden identity and other dark secrets. I asked if the singer thought the century-old setting and the archetype of the disguised man trying to win a woman over still had resonance today. He answered that definitively it did, internet dating being a prime example. One goes online—an anonymous forum to start with—and creates a "profile" which is, more often than not, a description of what one wishes one were or would like to be; the idea is to make oneself appealing to seekers. Just like the main character, one can create an alter ego that a) strangers can’t contradict and b) one can convince oneself is one’s true identity. I thought the debt aspect of the story line was particularly relevant to identity and the roles we play out in front of others; if we are to believe the stats on personal debt, most of us are faking our social status and financial security big time. As the Shadow says, "…secrets make a man into a myth…."

Scott Belluz has ideas germinating about where his voice and acting can take him in the future, particularly in the space of new opera. He is going to be a major player in the development of the countertenor repertoire, both here and abroad. I am grateful to have the opportunity to watch a very fine artist mature and flourish.

Hmmm. New wine in old wineskins {Matt 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37-39}... I’m liking it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Runs to May 30th only

Scott Belluz (countertenor) as The Shadow; photo © Michael Cooper, CooperShoots

There must be something in the water here: Canada turns out a lot of outstanding opera productions and stars, and thank God for that. Last night I had the pleasure of seeing another homegrown operatic world premiere: The Shadow presented by Tapestry New Opera Works. Part thriller, part cautionary tale, this strong piece was composed by Omar Daniel and written by Alex Poch-Goldin (see details in last week's post, below). I say strong because the work itself really doesn't need any propping up by external elements--although the very fine cast and well-appointed visuals certainly heightened the dramatic effects.
Might as well accuse me now of partiality because this is yet another rave review of a Tapestry project. This is a consummately professional company whose studio members always deliver: there's never Over The Top acting or bad props or distracting shortcuts. These touches allow us to focus on the music, the libretto and the art as a whole. No sympathetic cringing here.
Tapestry always throws in something innovative, too. This piece introduces the main character, Raoul the Postman, with him delivering letters (bills?) to audience and orchestra members alike before proceeding onstage. In the past they have employed unexpected but refreshing visuals such as puppetry and video; here, the overbearing father (Theodore Baerg) of Allegra (Carla Huhtanen) menacingly beckons her from offstage via a backlit silhouette through their villa door. They also know how to work with humour--despite the overall dark tone, the entertaining waiter (Keith Klassen) is spot-on, but the laughs never dip into sillyville--another indication of the company's acumen and good creative production leadership.
As for the story itself, The Shadow (Scott Belluz) provokes many questions. The themes of guile, covetousness and social status & power are overtly addressed in this moral tale. However, I suspect these are the kinds of issues from which we excuse ourselves; easy to point out in others but oh so hard to admit in ourselves! I think this piece is about being exposed for what we really are and whether we can accept that reality. We are a deceptive society (to ourselves and others), and much of our psychic energy is spent hiding our fraudulent lives and lifestyles. [More about this thought in my interview with the engaging Scott Belluz, to be posted in a few hours]. But if you like to fool yourself and hide behind your carefully constructed persona, don't go to see The Shadow--it'll unnerve you mercilessly. Just ask Señor Cartero....
Carla Huhtanen (soprano) as Allegra, Peter McGillivray (baritone) as Raoul (as his alter ego Hernando), Keith Klassen (tenor) as the Waiter; photo © Michael Cooper, CooperShoots

Sunday, May 17, 2009


"Enter a world of duplicity in which a humble postman assumes the identity
of a wealthy suitor to win a woman’s love. Determined to maintain the
ruse at all costs, he is haunted by the Shadow as he spirals deeper into
deception. Set in Old Barcelona, Alex Poch-Goldin and Omar Daniel
have created a world premiere opera full of intrigue, desire and deception.
Director Tom Diamond and Music Director Wayne Strongman lead a stellar
cast including baritone Peter McGillivray as Raoul, soprano Carla Huhtanen as Allegra and a comic turn by tenor Keith Klassen as the waiter. Renowned Canadian baritone Theodore Baerg makes his Tapestry New Opera Works debut as the Don and Allegra’s father and countertenor Scott Belluz is The Shadow.
Written by Alex Poch-Goldi, , Composed by Omar Daniel, Director Tom Diamond, Music Director Wayne Strongman, Set & Costume Designer Camellia Koo, Lighting Designer Robert Thomson, Stage Manager Isolde Pleasants-Faulkner, Assistant Stage Manager Gerry Egan
Carla Huhtanen, Peter McGillivray, Scott Belluz, Keith Klassen and Theodore Baerg
with Chamber Orchestra
May 21 at 8pm - Press & Community Night
May 22 at 8pm - World Premiere
May 23 at 8pm - Regular Performance
May 24 at 4pm - Matinee (all regular tickets 50% off)
May 27 at 8pm - PWYC
May 28 at 8pm - Regular Performance
May 29 at 8pm - Regular Performance
May 30 at 8pm - Regular Performance
The Shadow runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
TICKETS $49 regular tickets; ; $20 students & arts workers; 50% off Rush seats (1 hour before curtain on regular tickets); 50% off Regular Tickets for Sunday May 24 at 4pm; 15% off Regular Tickets for Groups of 10 or more; PWYC for Wednesday May 27 at 8pm (day of, limit of 2 per order) BOX OFFICE 416.368.3110 / /


Featuring Lyann Purcell Jennings and featured performance by Canadian Baritone Sung Chung
please register at

movie recoms


PRIEST (1994 with Linus Roache--yes, as in dad William Roache of Coro)
RIVER'S EDGE (1986 with our own Keanu Reeves; Crispin Glover is excellent as the stoner with a heart too).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Furiosi Returns ~ How Decadent!

I FURIOSI Baroque Ensemble is one of the world's most innovative Baroque ensembles, comprised of four of Canada's leading early music specialists: soprano Gabrielle McLaughlin, violinists Aisslinn Nosky and Julia Wedman, and cellist/gambist Felix Deak.
Saturday May 16, 2009 8:00
Calvin Presbyterian Church 26 Delisle Ave Toronto $20 & $10, at the door
Guests: Olivier Fortin, harpsichord; Edward Reifel, percussion
SILENT AUCTION before the show and at intermission!
I FURIOSI's new disc CRAZY (on the Dorian label) will be available for purchase at the concert.
photo: Paula Wilson and Cylla von Tiedemann

New Exhibition by Phil Irish!

Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery
101 Queen Street North
Kitchener, Ontario
May 15 - July 5, 2009.
Public Reception: May 22, 7-9 pm.
Curated by Allan Harding MacKay

but what about the trees???

Latin and Drag?

ck out this link to a film about Eleanor Roosevelt in which Sean Penn stars........also a new film about early church martyrdom done in lingua latina! euge!!!