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Ben McAteer Wins MyTheatre Award – Outstanding Opera Performance!

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Photo by Bill Cooper, featuring Ben McAteer (James)

Who called it?!

Scottish Opera's Ben McAteer just beat out some fierce competition to win Outstanding Opera Performance at the MyTheatre Awards for last season's The Devil Inside! Composed by Stuart MacRae with libretto by Louise Welsh, The Devil Inside was Scottish Opera's North American debut featuring international artists including Matthew Richardson, Michael Rafferty, Nicholas Sharratt, Rachel Kelly, Ben McAteer, and Steven Page.

CONGRATULATIONS to Ben and all involved in bringing this outstanding production to Toronto. We are proud and thrilled.

The Nominees for Outstanding Opera Performance:
Jane Archibald in Ariodante (Canadian Opera Company)Rachel Kelly in The Devil Inside (Tapestry Opera)Ben McAteer in The Devil Inside (Tapestry Opera) - WINNER!Erin Wall in The Marriage of Figaro (Canadian Opera Company)Sondra Radvanovsky in Norma (Canadian Opera Company)Christine Goerke in Siegfried (Canadian Opera Company)






Black Mirror

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This is the most intelligent and gripping TV I have watched in years and years. Sorry I missed it when it was first released; glad it's on Netflix now. Devastating and chilling, largely because we're almost there now. (2011, created by Charlie Brooker.)

Interview with Countertenor Scott Belluz

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Scott Belluz and Subiksha Rangarajan (as The Woman)  Photo courtesy of Domoney Artists. Used with permission.
In March, countertenor Scott Belluz starred in The Man Who Married Himself, a production by Toronto Masque Theatre in their penultimate season, which the Crow’s Nest website described thus: “Unwilling to marry a woman, a man fashions a lover from his own left side. He's enraptured by her perfect beauty—a mirror of his own—until he discovers that this new woman longs for freedom and wildly desires another. South Asian and Baroque music and performance traditions meet in a stunning new masque based on a traditional Indian folk-tale. Powerful and timely, The Man Who Married Himself is an allegory of the female and male warring within as told by 2 dancers, 3 singers and 6 musicians.” The show was very engaging, with lots of gestural and sensual stimuli, as well as unexpected humour. As someone in the talkback said, unlike most folk-tales, which in general have a moral, the endi…

Around the World Weekend

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Photo courtesy of Canstage

This weekend presented me with a lot of cultural worldviews; this post and the following are a sample of the arts I enjoyed.   Kiss caught me off guard; speaking to a friend after, it seemed that, unfortunately, half the audience thought this was a comedy and the political commentary was lost on them and somewhat ruined for us. Shout-outs to the cast. WRITTEN BY Guillermo Calderon
DIRECTED BY Ashlie Corcoran
CAST
Dalal Badr
Liza Balkan
Greg Gale
Carlos González-Vío
Naomi Wright
Bahareh Yaraghi
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR/SOUND DESIGNER Christopher Stanton
SET DESIGNER Jung-Hye Kim
COSTUME DESIGNER Jackie Chau
LIGHTING DESIGNER Rebecca Picherack
PROJECTION DESIGNER Alex Williams
ARABIC TRANSLATION/LANGUAGE COACHS alma Al Atassi
STAGE MANAGER Natasha Bean-Smith
APPRENTICE STAGE MANAGER Lucy McPhee
PRODUCER (THEATRE SMASH) Stacey Norton
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER Cody McCallum
PRODUCTION MANAGER Peter Eaton

A Man Called Ove(En man som heter Ove, 2015, dir. Hannes Holm)was, happily, not too comedic..…

At the Mod Club on Monday: Jain

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I like Jain's video "Come" for its artistry, but this one for "Makeba" is artistically more mature.  
Also check out Robert López dates here. I like "Oye Candelaria."

Good God, we're getting close to 20 years... From a professional (? It doesn't suck.) tributor.
And, just coz I like the shot from Source Code (2011, dir. Duncan Jones) with Jake Gyllenhaal:




Better Than The Killing!

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Whoa!! This Belgian show (2016), starring Joann Blanc, will knock your socks off.

Apparently, It's Make Incorrect Assumptions about Foreign Films Week

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I thought this was going to be a colder version of The Impossible (2012) and sadly had procrastinated in watching it, but the avalanche (clearly there is no need to raise a spoiler alert) is merely a prop to the action—or lack thereof. The pace is glacial and the mood is tense, and it's not coz you're waiting for another avalanche. This film is about relationship, and I mean that discretely from relationships, because that would have been to easy. Director Ruben Ostlund (2014) is picking at scabs and discomfiting the viewer, yet we're paralyzed with fascination at our own image. He also does very interesting things with music (not just the Vivaldi), and equally with silence, both aural and visual. The Force Majeure here is definitely not made of snow.  Shout out to Ingrid Eng for the excellent subtitles.

Icelandic Gems

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This looked like some funny-townsfolk comedy and imdb classifies it as a tragicomedy, but there is precious little to laugh about in Rams (2015, directed by Grímur Hákonarson).This movie is tough going but gorgeous both visually and spiritually. Slow pace and understated performances. No spoilers. The only funny thing is that not only is the dog but the principal sheep are credited by name at the end! Awww.



An excellent TV series is Trapped (2015), a very tight police and family drama, which I won't spoil either. There are twists and turns you won't see coming, but they're all done with that Northern kind of sensibility. Subtle performances that don't need to call attention to themselves to affect. Loved it. 

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

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I could have sworn I reviewed this but I can't find it here or on Beautiful Feet 1.0... Stumbled upon it and as soon as I saw and heard the E-S-A-R-I-N-T-U-L..., I remembered this wonderful film and watched it all again. Beautiful on so many levels. I appreciated it more this time, now that I knew more about director (2017) Julian Schnabel's work(s).  An absolutely heartbreaking and at the same time inspiring movie about the true mid-life trauma suffered by Jean Dominique Bauby, chief editor of Elle magazine in France in the 90s. Excellent performances by all, including Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Anne Consigny and (2013) Les Beaux Jours' Patrick Chenais (who I know I reviewed but can't locate that post either. Grr.).  After the movie, I read some background of the events from his children's points of view, which was interesting but should not be investigated til after viewing. One amateur reviewer described it as "cerebral," which I guess it is. I…

Netflix Recos

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Juana Inés
Fauda

Ainsi Soient-Ils

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Pas de quatrième saison!   :(

Cirque Éloize at CanStage

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Fresh, humorous, creative, artistic and way more engaging than Cirque du Soleil, which seems a little OTT now. Artistry and strength and guts. Really excellent entertainment!

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & CO-DIRECTORJeannot Painchaud
CO-DIRECTOR & CHOREOGRAPHERDave St-Pierre
SET DESIGNER, ILLUSTRATOR, VIDEO PROJECTIONS DESIGNERRobert Massicotte
COMPOSERStéfan Boucher
ACROBATIC DESIGNER OF BANQUINE & TEETERBOARD ACTS & HEAD COACHKrzysztof Soroczynski
LIGHTING DESIGNERNicolas Descoteaux
COSTUME DESIGNERLiz Vandal
VIDEO PROJECTIONS CO-DESIGNERAlexis Laurence
PHOTOPatrick Lazic

Five Faces for Evelyn Frost

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Photo: canadianstage.com
It's obvious why this generation is experiencing so much anxiety and depression. This is an excellent commentary on identity and social media at Canadian Stage in English or French (see website for details). A CO-PRODUCTION WITH THÉÂTRE FRANÇAIS DE TORONTO. FEB 14 - MAR 5 (ENGLISH) MAR 21-25 (FRENCH).
CASTLaurence Dauphinais
Steffi DiDomenicantonio
Tara Nicodemo
Nico Racicot
Alex Weiner 
PLAYWRIGHTGuillaume Corbeil
TRANSLATORSteven McCarthy
DIRECTORClaude Poissant
LIGHTING DESIGNMartin Labrecque
MUSICNicolas Basque
SET DESIGNMax-Otto Fauteux
PHOTOGRAPHERJanicke Morissette
WARDROBEPhilippe Massé
STAGE MANAGERNatalie Gisèle
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGERJocelyn McDowell
PRODUCTION PICTURESJean–François Brière
CREATION & SURTITLES OPERATIONMelanie Hall

More Time Warp Than ESP: Déja Vu

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With the same director (Tony Scott, 2006) and score composer (Harry Gregson-Williams) as The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009), this is like Inception and other time-space-continuum-manipulation films, but in N'awlins. Interesting backstory re:post-Katrina production on imdb. Some theological points touched on (see Patheos' brief take on it) and of course a Hollywood ending, but def my cup o' tea. 

5 1/2 Hours of Wagner

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Götterdämmerung by Wagner
CAST AND CREATIVE TEAMSSiegfriedAndreas SchagerBrünnhildeChristine GoerkeHagenAin AngerAlberichRobert PomakovFirst NornLindsay AmmannWaltraute/Second Norn Karen CargillGutrune/Third NornIleana MontalbettiGuntherMartin GantnerWoglindeDanika LorènWellgundeLauren EberweinFlosshildeLindsay AmmannConductor:  Johannes DebusDirector:Tim AlberyProduction Designer:  Michael LevineLighting Designer:David FinnChoreographer:Patti PowellChorus Master: Sandra HorstWith the COC Orchestra and Chorus A Canadian Opera Company production Banner image: (l-r) Robert Pomakov and Ain Anger in Götterdämmerung (COC, 2017), photo by Michael Cooper.
We are shameless Robert Pomakov fans, both at the Four Seasons Centre or at his bar, Opera Bob's. Ain Anger was also excellent. Loved the whole production: no falling asleep in this one!

Art in the TTC

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EXHIBITION DATESJanuary 21 – May 21, 2017 PUBLIC PROGRAMSTuesday, February 14
Public Art in the Subways
Register Tuesday, April 11
Public Art in the Financial District
Register This map, created by The Artful City in collaboration with the Martin Prosperity Institute and presented in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario, is the first comprehensive visual view of public art in Toronto. It reveals important patterns of production, ownership, and networks linking artists over time. Over the last 50 years Toronto's public art landscape has grown dramatically, embracing new artists, mediums, policies and funding sources. However, this development has been concentrated in particular neighbourhoods and has prioritized certain forms of practice over others. This map shows who has access to the vast majority of the artwork and who does not. It also illustrates what type of work has received the most support.
We invite you to explore and help complete this evolving map by identifying areas in…

Liv Stein at CanStage

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NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
ENGLISH LANGUAGE PREMIEREMusic is the only thing that matters in the life of celebrated concert pianist Liv Stein. When her son Henri dies, she gives it all up - the piano, her career, her marriage, herself. But the unexpected visit of a young promising piano student claiming to have shared Henri's last couple of years forces Liv to face past demons she is trying to forget. A mysterious pact is made that seems to reawaken Liv's will to Liv... Canadian Stage Artistic and General Director Matthew Jocelyn directs this suspenseful and exquisitely crafted drama by one of the most prodigious young voices in new German theatre.

"Liv Stein is a unique and unexpected examination of the relationship between truth and happiness. If something makes us happy, does it have to be true? In a moment when our fundamental relationship to truth is being challenged, this work provokes the audience to consider the shades of grey in what we think of as black and white"…

Calvary ✞

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Like all films about the Church, this one is difficult to watch. But these performances are not to be missed.

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir at St. Paul's Basilica

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Photo credit: Orthodox Arts Journal
PROGRAMSergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943, Russia)The Theotokos, Ever-Vigilant in PrayerExcerpts from Vespers (All-Night Vigil):    My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord    Praise the Name of the Lord    Rejoice O VirginRiho Esko Maimets (b. 1988, Canada) Three Prayers from the Holy Rosary:I. Formula Trinitarium     II. Credo     III. Pater NosterWorld PremiereOmar Daniel (b. 1960, Canada)Sõduri Ema – Part IIIWorld PremiereAlfred Schnittke (1934-1998, Russia)Three Sacred Hymns:     Hail to the Virgin Mary     Lord Jesus, Son of God     Lord’s PrayerArvo Pärt (b. 1935, Estonia)SummaThe Woman with the Alabaster BoxNunc dimittisDopo la vittoriaEncore: Onnis on inimene by Kreek, which I knew from my Talla Vocal Ensemble CD  Riho Esko Maimets’s world premiere supported by Philip & Eli Taylor. (disappointing)Omar Daniel’s world premiere supported by the Canada Council for the Arts. (good but piece at theremin concert was better)

Hieronymous Bosch "In the Gallery," Cineplex broadcast series

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The Garden of Earthly Delights, c. 1495-1505 Fascinating overview of the oft-mistaken character of the artist and his other-worldly works. The comparisons I found between him and William Kurelek were astounding. Both thoughtful but not insane prophets of their times and the messengers of the need for self-reflection and restraint in this life. As John Franklin wrote in the Fall 2016 Imago newsletter, "...artists have the capacity to see what is coming in a culture and their work indicates the mood and values of a society." {Quoted with permission.} The details shown in this broadcast allowed for viewing just not possible in a book, even with a magnifying glass. Weirdnesses like his frequent depictions naked bodies with birds flying out of bottoms (!) and of owls; the interviewed historians noted them as harbingers of something ominous but here is a more nuanced suggestion: Owl: the owl has a double meaning: 1) the perfidious Jews who, preferring darkness to light, reject Jesus…

Theremin Concert at the Music Gallery

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Saw Carolina Eyck play the theremin at the Music Gallery. Guests Gregory Oh (piano and Hammond organ), James Mason (oboe) and composer D. Andrew Stewart (karlax) with the Penderecki Quartet! New pieces by Stewart and Omar Daniel. All ridiculously cool. No haunted house music here—I was amazed at its versatility.

The karlax is about a hundred years older than the theremin. Da Fact makes the digital instrument that can reproduce recorded speech, sound effects and music that is affected by gesture. Very interesting development of this century's musical landscape.

La La Loved It

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While a musical, it is set for our times, with some nods to Hollywood of the past. There are some loose ends, but there's an interesting use of colour and treatment of light. I hope it will be a catalyst for more musicals. My only complaint is that there weren't more musical numbers in it. Good fun!