“Otello” beautifully closes up the opera season at The Canadian Opera Company with Verdi’s blistering adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. “Otello” is brimming with drama, darkness, rainy nights and fiery blazes.
Otello is quite the fellow – a professional military man, full of pride and a beaming husband to Desdemona. Retaliation follows as he receives a promotion over his friend, lago. lago’s jealousy takes a malicious turn and leads Otello down a destructive path.
American tenor Russell Thomas returns to the COC as Otello. The San Francisco Classical Voice calling him a “heroically-scaled tenor” with a voice that is a “tower of strength.” Thomas destroys the audience with a strength that runs deep with emotion and stoic in vulnerably. Distinguished Canadian baritone, Gerald Finley is the villainous lago; his manipulative streak and epic moments of contempt makes one’s heart race. Soprano, Tamara Wilson is Otello’s wife, Desdemona. Wilson provides the audience with a moving texture that is unrivaled in this performance. Canadian tenor and Ensemble Studio graduate Andrew Haji illustrates to the audience a complexity that is befitting his role of young lieutenant Cassio.
As per the Canadian Opera Company’s production notes, “the story’s setting has been moved to a crumbling Mediterranean garrison, in the early 20th century. In keeping with the spirit of Verdi’s original creation, the production takes a largely psychological approach, zeroing in on Otello’s inner turmoil over the external influence of other people and circumstance.” The staging creates an atmosphere that resembles the coldest and damp of Canadian Fall days. The Acts are full of uncertainty, questioning and wondering of what is to come. The ambiance of death, dying and a unsettled earth was felt throughout the performance. Grounding is felt in the singular flames rooted into the ground and scenes of a burgeoning dawn that demonstrates an element of hope to the audience.
COC Music Director Johannes Debus leads the COC Orchestra through what is known as one of Verdi’s most daring and complex orchestrations. Price Family Chorus Master Sandra Horst leads the COC Chorus.
Ensure to make a cool date with “Otello” before the opera season comes to a close in May.
Otello is sung in Italian and presented by the COC with English SURTITLES™.
This production was originally created as a co-production between English National Opera, Royal Swedish Opera, and Teatro Real Madrid.
Now that we have packed away our parka’s, it’s time to embrace the spring. There is nothing like winking at snowy scenes in Puccini’s La Bohème, that make one wish for a little sprinkle of snow upon exiting the performance.
Puccini’s La Bohème, one of opera’s best-known love stories, illustrates that art, life, love and loss collide just as much in the present as it did for a group of struggling young artists in 19th-century Paris. Set to some of the most moving music ever composed, the story has captured the hearts of generations of audiences and inspired numerous adaptations, including the hit Broadway musical, Rent. La Bohème runs for 10 performances on April 17, 26, 28, May 2, 4, 5, 7, 11 (two performances), 22, 2019.
The Broadway musical Rent is brash, full on and overly dramatic. Puccini’s La Bohème is quiet, reflective, and perfect to get lost in during a matinee performance. It is worthy of leaving you contemplating about love and loss for the rest of your evening with a glass of wine or with a favourite book of poetry. As John Caird said in 2013 in his Director’s Notes, “Herein lies the true genius of Puccini’s achievement. By giving every one of Murger’s characters a real musical specificity, Puccini allows them to move from laughter to tears and back again with effortless ease – and his orchestral background overflows with the most lovingly crafted detail in support of their complex emotional journeys.”
A mix of rising Canadian and international stars comprise this stellar cast: American soprano Angel Blue makes her COC debut as the doomed Mimì. Blue is dynamic with a demure lens as she reflects on her life and that of her compatriots. One’s heart can’t help but start to break as her love affair with Rodolfo starts to bloom. Brazilian tenor Atalla Ayan won San Francisco Opera’s Emerging Stars Competition in 2018 plays the role of Mimì’s love, Rodolfo. Sweet, kind and keen to be vulnerable about his heart break. Canadian soprano Andriana Chuchman brings her “sure, glorious sound” (Washington Post) to the role of the lively Musetta. Chuchman, is truly epic. Fully of gusto, sauciness and perhaps an eye brow arching lens towards what is to come. American baritone Lucas Meachem performs the role of struggling artist Marcello. Hardly an easy feat but Meachem provides wonderful moments to reflect upon as he digests the pain of his artist friends.
Tony Award-winner John Caird directs this popular COC production, that was last performed in Toronto in 2014. The creative team drew visual inspiration from France’s Belle Époque period to convey characters’ rose-tinted sense of hope and absolute commitment to their art as painter, poet, musician and philosopher. The set cleverly incorporates a collage of canvases by the painter in the opera, Marcello, effectively framing the story onstage within various Parisian locales. Richly coloured lighting design is by Michael James Clark.
The staging as is usual with Canadian Opera Company performances are grand, exciting and full of pomp and circumstance. The dimly lit glow of streetlights, a working stove with a rising smoke stack, snow covered ambiances, treat laden market scenes and dark portraiture make for a cosy performance experience. The joviality that is stitched into the reality of the characters bold and colourful life space is a reminder to the audience, that we are living a Comédie humaine including of genuine laughter, sometimes angry, sometimes joyous but always mixed with tears like that of the artist’s in Puccini’s work.
Italian conductor Paolo Carignani (2012’s Tosca and 2016’s Carmen) returns to Toronto to lead the COC Orchestra through a sweeping score that includes Mimì and Rodolfo’s famously heartbreaking love duets. Italian conductor Antonello Allemandi, making his COC debut, conducts the final performance on May 22. Price Family Chorus Master Sandra Horst leads the COC Chorus through some of opera’s most memorable melodies.
Ensure you make time to breathe in Puccini’s La Bohème as we enter the Spring. Perhaps we have some new beginnings ourselves that we must nurture and perhaps let go of those that need pruning to the inspiring tune of Puccini’s epic score.
La Bohème is sung in Italian and presented by the COC with English SURTITLES™.
La Bohème is a COC co-production with Houston Grand Opera and San Francisco Opera.
Now that the winter is over, pack your parkas away and get ready to breathe in the spring’s vibe with the Queens of Soul at The Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents three fabulous singers in a program of hits made famous by the legendary divas of soul and R&B. Think Aretha Franklin to Alicia Keys!
Check out the full program for the Queens of Soul and grab your tickets soon:
Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at 8:00 pm
Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at 2:00 pm & 8:00 pm
Jeff Tyzik, conductor
Queens of Soul
Shayna Steele, vocalist
Melissa McMillan, vocalist
Brie Cassil, vocalist
FOGERTY/arr. Tyzik: “Proud Mary” [5′]
WARREN/arr. Tyzik: “At Last” [5′]
HULL/arr. Tyzik: “New Attitude” [4′]
WEATHERLY/arr. Tyzik: “Midnight Train to Georgia” [4′]
GAMBLE/arr. Tyzik: “Don’t Leave Me This Way” [3′]
ADKINS/arr. Tyzik: “Rolling in the Deep” [4′]
KEYS/arr. Tyzik: “Fallin’” [3′]
ALICIA KEYS: /arr. Tyzik: “Girl on Fire” [3′]
WHITFIELD/arr. Tyzik: “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” [6′]
BRITTEN/arr. Tyzik: “What’s Love Got To Do With It” [3′]
MERRILL/arr. Tyzik: “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” [3′]
KING/arr. Tyzik: “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” [3′]
WINEHOUSE/arr. Tyzik: “You Know I’m No Good” [4′]
ADKINS/arr. Tyzik: “Hello” [4′]
REDDING/arr. Tyzik: “Respect” [2′]
SHANNON/arr. Tyzik: “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” [2′]
COHEN/arr. Tyzik: “Freeway of Love” [5′]
KING/arr. Tyzik: “(
Every year Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival gets better and better! This year the film festival is jam packed with the most diverse, emotional and enlightening films yet. If you haven’t been – don’t miss out this Spring!
Thank you to our friends at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival for gifting Thirty Four Flavours with a stack of #HotDocs19 tickets to get you out there in the sun and ready to catch some wonderful documentaries! Yes, FREE Hot Docs 2019 Tickets!
What are the rules when entering the Thirty Four Flavours and #HotDocs19 Ticket Giveaway?
Simple! Please sign up to Thirty Four Flavours Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thirtyfourflavours, Twitter https://twitter.com/34flavours, or email subscription to enter the draw. When you have signed up please send me a Facebook message, a tweet or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) telling me which #HotDocs19 Ticket Giveaway films you are interested in listed below. The films that follow are pretty special and will be sure to move and inspire you.
Deadline for the Thirty Four Flavours and #HotDocs19 Ticket Giveaway is Tuesday April 23, 2019.
D: Alessandro Cassigoli, Casey Kauffman | Italy
Surviving a broken home on the roughest streets of Naples, an 18-year-old girl spectacularly rises to become Italy’s first female Olympic boxer. But when the spotlight fades after the 2016 Rio Games, is she strong enough to fight for herself?
MON, APR 29 9:45 PM TBLB
D: Andrijana Stojković | Serbia | 60 min
When one of his beloved dingoes falls gravely ill, a reclusive Serbian-Australian writer in Melbourne delves into painful memories and his life’s work, revealing a personal tragedy that speaks to Australia’s colonial past.
The Woman, The Man and a Dog
D: Andrés Navarrete | Ecuador | 19 min
FRI, MAY 3 9:15 PM TBLB
WHEN WE WALK
D: Jason DaSilva | USA, Canada | 79 min CC
Recently divorced, the filmmaker attempts to relocate closer to his young son, but confronts the harsh inequity of the US Medicaid system, which would prevent him from accessing the care he needs to live while battling advanced multiple sclerosis.
MON, APR 29 6:30 PM BADER
MAGIC LIFE OF V
D: Tonislav Hristov | Finland | 85 min
Armouring herself with a fairy-tale alter ego through live-action role play, a young woman cannot let go of memories of childhood abuse until she’s ready to step out of her elaborate fantasy world and face the real monster from her past.
WED, MAY 1 9:45 PM TBLB
D: Pia Hellenthal | Germany | 84 min
Refusing to fix her own identity and career in permanence, the enigmatic protagonist of this thoroughly millennial character study proves through selfies, sex scenes and social media that online, you can be everything and nothing at once.
TUE, APR 30 8:00 PM SCOTIA
D: Ian Cheney, Martha Shane | USA | 84 min
Explore the evolution of emojis, the colourful and creative pictorial language that surged from a simple set of icons to a swiftly evolving linguistic phenomenon that is reshaping how we communicate.
TUE, APR 30 9:30 PM HOT DOCS CINEMA
Happy Hot Docs Film Watching!
Yayoi Kusama’s work has transcended two of the most important art movements of the second half of the twentieth century: pop art and minimalism. Her highly influential career spans paintings, performances, room-size presentations, outdoor sculptural installations, literary works, films, fashion, design, and interventions within existing architectural structures, which allude at once to microscopic and macroscopic universes.
Born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Japan, Kusama’s work has been featured widely in both solo and group exhibitions. She presented her first solo show in Japan in 1952. In the mid-1960s, she lived in New York where she became an important avant-garde artist by staging groundbreaking and influential happenings, events, and exhibitions. In 1965 Kusama produced her first Infinity Mirror Room. Building on the repetition found in her paintings and sculptures, this artwork used mirrors to create an illusion of infinite space. Since then Kusama has made more than 20 unique rooms.
She returned to Japan in 1973. Her work gained widespread recognition in the late 1980s following a number of international solo exhibitions, including shows at the Center for International Contemporary Arts, New York and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, England, which both took place in 1989. She represented Japan in 1993 at the 45th Venice Biennale to much critical acclaim. At age 90 Yayoi Kusama continues to produce interactive, infinity-like spaces, as well as paintings and sculptures.
ABOUT THE ARTWORK
For more than 60 years, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (born 1929) has invited people to participate in her groundbreaking visions of infinity. Over the past three decades, this prolific experimental artist has become an internationally acclaimed art-world icon, with work presented across the globe.
INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM – LET’S SURVIVE FOREVER features mirrored spheres suspended from the ceiling and arranged on the floor. A mirrored column inside the room invites visitors to peer into a seemingly infinite field of silver orbs.
Thanks to the generosity of the David Yuile & Mary Elizabeth Hodgson Fund and over 4,700 #InfinityAGO donors who participated in the AGO’s ambitious crowdfunding campaign, Yayoi Kusama’s INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM – LET’S SURVIVE FOREVER is now a part of the AGO Collection.