Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Xtra! On Our Queer Operatic Triangle

Xtra! sat down with Ross and Ashiq to chat A Synonym for Love, modernizing Baroque opera, and the timeless mystery of romance:

A Synonym for Love highlights the timeless mystery of romance
Lydia Perovic

Emily Atkinson (Theresa) Photo John Lauener
"I am amazed at the opera voice and what it does to an audience," says [Ross] Manson during a break in rehearsals. "But sometimes I see traditional operatic productions and get bored. Maybe it's the recits in foreign language, which you have to read closely to follow the plot. Sometimes it's the staging." The most attractive productions, in his view, combine the music of opera with experimental staging and innovation in text - just the kind of work that the Underground / Opera series programmed by Aziz presents.


Although the score occasionally mirrors the rustic nature of the original libretto, with woodwinds delivering brooks, birds and rustling foliage, [Ashiq] Aziz will show how Handel's music acquires a whole different life in this urban and present-day setting. "Deborah's libretto is fully independent from the Clori, Tirsi e Fileno text. And today's audience won't automatically think of a bird when they hear a recorder - those associations have not survived." Some of the almost onomatopoeic sections like the early Nightingale aria remain the same musically, but "will mean in this context something very different."

The program notes describe Tirsi/Theresa, the lesbian lover, as a firebrand, a sure sign that Tirsi's original mad passionate arias will remain equally madly passionate. In many ways Pearson's libretto is very much the Toronto of today, not the least thanks to the pan-sexual love intrigue with a same-sex couple at its centre.

Read the full article here.

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