Culture blast

I love Toronto. I know, we’re the centre of the universe blah, blah, blah.

But really, these past couple of days have reminded me about the wonderful benefits of being in a large, culture-filled city, particularly in my current retired-with-grown-kids state.

The Canadian Opera Company

As a supporter of the Canadian Opera Company, I was blessed with a pass for 2 tickets to see Tuesday’s working rehearsal of Britten’s Peter Grimes. It stars great Canadian tenor Ben Heppner in the namesake role. The brother of a friend is also in it (Roger Honeywell as Bob Boles), plus a friend from choir (and voice teacher for Michael) is in the chorus (Paula Wickberg). I invited my brother to join me.

Unlike other rehearsals I’ve been to, this was early on in the process so there was lots of stopping and starting, which was great. We saw Music Director Johannes Debus put the orchestra through it’s paces, as well as tightening up timing and articulation of the chorus and the onstage drummer. We also saw some staging worked through so that, for example, Swallow could see the conductor to get his vocal cue while tumbling over and under a table (and the Nieces.) The rehearsal was also a great way to hear some of the music repeated a few times as it is new to me. I will now be able to recognize some of the the themes when we attend. We only saw Acts 2 and part of Act 3, but I’m excited to see the whole work in performance on October 5.

Last night, Zouheir and I attended a Star Talk at the Toronto Reference Library that featured an interview by Richard Ouzounian with Ben Heppner. It was a lovely surprise to see my three aunts there as well. Heppner comes across as a real family man who has managed in latter years to limit his performance schedule to 50 days per year. He said that his critics thought that this would spell the demise of his career, but he found that, the law of supply and demand came in to play here and he is in more demand (and better paid) than ever. A video of this interview should be up here within the next few days.

The COC has an excellent online listening guide and study guide for this opera. I will definitely be browsing through the latter before we see the performance.

Also in culture this week: Ai Weiwei at the AGO. Next post.

English: The Scallop The Scallop statue at Ald...
English: The Scallop The Scallop statue at Aldeburgh Suffolk. Dedicated to Benjamin Britten, who used to walk along the beach in the afternoons. Created from stainless steel by Suffolk-based artist Maggi Hambling, it stands four metres high, and was unveiled in November 2003. The piece is made up of two interlocking scallop shells, each broken, the upright shell being pierced with the words: “I hear those voices that will not be drowned”, which are taken from Britten’s opera Peter Grimes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3 thoughts on “Culture blast

  1. Dear Janet,

    The performances sound wonderful. I was interested in your aunts being there – Ben Heppner went to a church in Joyce’s area and I think that there was some interaction between the congregations. It would be great to have him in church choir!

    Thanks too for sending along the clip from Robin Williams.

    Take care, Love


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