Tea: A Mirror of Soul is an exotic, symbolic, operatic exploration of the role of tea in Eastern culture. This unique piece is playing at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for four nights only: May 4, 7, 9 and 11.
I’ve been struggling to make full sentences of this review, the performance was so image-heavy. So I thought I’d start out with some images:
Rolling sky, luscious mountains, fog and mist and forests green,
lovers through the landscape running,
clowns and antics in their dream.
Before the performance began, Ana Sokolovic came up on stage to say a few words. Some of those words included “please don't follow along in your program”. Not that she needed to worry. The program is in English, the opera is in Serbian, I would never know which words were which.
The Canadian Opera Company’s production of Death in Venice tiptoes so near perfection, it’s like a prayer of gratitude to the muses. In this case, inspiration came from life. Both the novella’s author, Thomas Mann, and the opera’s composer, Benjamin Britten, had life experiences that fed into the story of an artist’s demise.
JH: The difficult thing about writing reviews of operatic productions mounted by a world-class company like the Canadian Opera Company is that when it comes to the 'technical' aspects such as vocal and musical performances, there is often much to praise and little to complain about.
Most of us know the bare bones of the tale of Madama Butterfly: American Naval Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton takes a Nagasaki bride, one Miss-soon-to-be-Madama Butterfly (also known as Cio-Cio-San). Their Japanese marriage becomes the centre of the fifteen-year-old ex-geisha's existence, while to Pinkerton it is merely an exotic interlude, a kind of delirious mock-up of the real thing, which can only exist in the West – someday in the future-West, when he has finished sewing his wild oats. Pinkerton eventually abandons Butterfly, returning to Nagasaki three years later with a “real” American wife, Kate, to take custody of Madama Butterfly's three-year-old son, known as Sorrow. Butterfly relinquishes her child and then kills herself with her father's knife, a treasured relic and a symbol of both her cultural ties to Japan and her tragic fate.
The venerable PLANK Panel return with their take on the Canadian Opera Company's recent production of Gaetano Donizetti's Maria Stuarda
Justin: It may be strange to start a opera review with a note about a work’s libretto - one of the unmodifiable elements of any Canadian Opera Company production - but it is still a key part of the artistic experience and as such a legitimate topic of discussion. The thing that strikes me most about Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda is the drastically unfamiliar treatment Queen Elizabeth I receives in this work. Compared to the moderate and headstrong depictions we are familiar with thanks to films like Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love, the jealous and often petty Elizabeth of Maria Stuarda is a virtual stranger.