Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A Synonym for 4 Stars: NOW Magazine's 4N Review

NOW Magazine's Jon Kaplan weighs in on A Synonym for Love with a 4N review. Here are the highlights:

John Kaplan

Tracy Smith Bessette (Clori)
photo by John Lauener
You've probably never had a cardio workout when listening to opera, unless you're plugged into an iPod recording while on the treadmill. But A Synonym for Love, a striking Underground/Opera production presented by Volcano Theatre and Classical Music Consort, will have you running from room to room and up and down stairs at the Gladstone Hotel....


The production, directed by Ross Manson and conducted by Ashiq Aziz, is an exhilarating one, and not just because of the exercise involved. The three singers are emotionally and dramatically committed to their roles...Manson's direction is often inventive...

A Synonym for Love is Handel for today, a love story without a resolution, told with a modern sensibility and gorgeous melodies. It's the most original show in town.

Read the full review here.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Blogroll!! A Synonym for Love Online

To kick off week two of A Synonym for Love, we suggest you take a break on this rainy Monday to indulge in some insightful writing from the blogosphere. Our thanks to all the reviewers who've come out so far!

"Manson's eyes danced when I asked him if this experience had whetted his interest to direct more opera, so, with any luck, Toronto will soon have another regular, keen experimenter working in this artform of endless possibilities."

Read John's full take on our preview performance here

STAGE DOOR - Christopher Hoile
"Pearson's new libretto actually hews quite closely to the twists of the original plot...[her] libretto may be modern and include the odd four-letter word, but part of the humour of the piece is to see how human expressions of love, betrayal and remorse have changed so little even with the change in time and setting from bucolic to urban."

Read the full 4 Star review here

"There's a sense, as A Synonym for Love progresses, that we've gone back a bit in time. Not because we're at an opera written in 1707, but because everything's so stylish and clever and fresh. I would not have predicted that mixing a lost Handel cantata with Kiss Me, Kate (which is itself mixed with Taming of the Shrew) and setting the whole business in the Gladstone Hotel with a fourteen-piece baroque ensemble (including a theorbo) - well, it could have been a mess. But instead, it was a marvel."

Read the full review here

"The singing and acting was uniformly good. I particularly liked Atkinson's rather dark toned, almost mezzoish, soprano and she really threw herself into the role as the "betrayed lover" (as she sees it) with abandon...The band, eleven players on period instruments, under the direction of Ashiq Aziz was excellent. It was great to have something other than just keyboards for a venture of this type."

Read the full review here.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Side Note: Handel & Hendrix

It's our day off and everyone's checked out, so today's post is only vaguely relevant to the show...

two dapper musicians

Did you know that Handel and Jimi Hendrix were housemates? Separated by a few centuries, of course.

Both Handel and Hendrix were residents of 23 and 25 Brook Street in London, once separate buildings that are now interconnected.

The Guardian ran a story on this musical dwelling in 2010 for the 40th anniversary of Hendrix's death:

"Many assume that Hendrix knew nothing of the Handel connection: in fact he was charmed when he learned of it, and bought recordings including The Messiah and The Water Music. Some have even claimed to detect Handel riffs in the thunderous guitar chords of later Hendrix recordings."

A neat real estate connection to think about, particularly given our venue's history with artists coming in and out of Toronto. Who knows what small-world coincidences there are between the A Synonym for Love team and Gladstone visitors throughout the hotel's long history?

Read the full article on The Guardian here.

Friday, 24 August 2012

#operathatmoves / #twittertalk

We're tweeting #operathatmoves to keep the Twitterverse up to speed on A Synonym for Love each night. Here's what some of our audiences (and a few out-of-towners) have had to say about the project:

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Listen in on the CMC Orchestra

No press clipping or iPhone photo is every going to convey just how amazingly talented the Classical Music Consort orchestra is, so here's a little sample of what this incredible group of stair-climbing musicians sounds like:

Classical Music Consort Orchestra
Conducted by Ashiq Aziz

Violin I: Paul Zevenhuizen (leader), Sarah Titterington Ibbett
Violin II: John Corban, Marcin Swoboda
Viola: Elizabeth Loewen Andrews
Oboe/Recorder: Mary Ann Shore, Graham St. Laurent
Continuo: Mary-Katherine Finch (cello), Mateusz Swboda (cello), Anthony Bacon (cello), Joelle Morton (double bass), Lucas Harris (archlute), Sara-Anne Churchill (harpsichord)

Recorded at the Heliconian Club on August 12, 2012 by Frank Lockwood.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Backstage With an iPhone

A few shots captured during the preview and opening night performances of A Synonym for Love:

Production Manager Doug Morum and the Classical Music Consort
orchestra warming up the ballroom

Becky, Veronica and Alex: 3 of our amazing armada of volunteers

Tracy about to make her first entrance

The audience on the move in the "Love Nest"

Hmm...what happened here, I wonder?

Cellist Anthony Bacon serenades the FreshCo
atop The Gladstone's green roof