It seemed to be a two-and-a-half-hour opera about people being their worst in a confined space. It was, basically, a series of vignettes that could be amusing and meaningful in a shorter format.
With the world premiere nature of this show and the resurrection of some of this music, it should come as no surprise that the songs disappeared from our cultural lexicon because they’re not musically memorable. I kept waiting for a showstopper, but none were forthcoming
Directed by Joan Font with choreography by Xevi Dorca, this revival of the 2015 production with set and costumes by Joan Guillén, is described in the program notes by the director as "action that could happen" in the 19th century, or even today in Toronto. I do beg to differ.
I am by no means an Orff scholar, so my analysis may be subjective. The collection of twenty four poems from a larger collection written by medieval monks with varying themes, yet this production seemed to hone in on just one: lust.
The Schubert-song recital is a staple and one that I find, for the most part, to be overdone. There is no denying the composer’s immense and invaluable contribution to the lieder repertory. His songs are like golden threads in the intricate tapestry that is the history of German lieder, but personally, I find that a recital programme of unrelated Schubert song to be lacking in imagination when there is a wide variety of song repertoire to be programmed in interesting and new ways.
It was Canadian bass-baritone Philippe Sly, backed by Le Chimera Project - the unusual-for-Lieder band of clarinet, trombone, accordion, and violin - staged by director Roy Rallo. The group of artists seem to have come together precisely to develop this take on Schubert's Winterreise, and to do so from as blank an artistic slate as possible.
With 2020 underway, Hued Songs can only look forward to more exceptional work carving a unique and necessary sphere within the South Florida music scene. Moreover, Spirituals & Òrìṣàs should challenge the region’s longstanding classical music institutions to think innovatively in the new year.
"Their stories broke my heart and invited me to see the world from another's perspective; to be moved by people who I would not ordinarily encounter," writes Nottage of Sweat. "As a Black woman from Brooklyn I hadn't expected that I would be so profoundly moved by their predicament."
And ultimately, it's indicative of Castelnuovo-Tedesco's approach: he chooses to supplement the wordplay already present in the source, and when it works the result is delightfully cheeky in the best way. One need look no further than the way the music swells with the punchlines, the subversively domestic sounds he gets from his orchestra of two pianos and percussion, and the text setting that remains declamatory almost to a fault.
I was very much taken with Stuart Laing's production design. It felt quintessentially Parisian and conjured up all of the sights, smells, and senses one comes to expect but did so in a very understated way.