Richard Strauss's Salome has always been a controversial opera, to say the least. The premiere performance in 1905 was not particularly well received, though famously the premiere was attended by Giacomo Puccini, Gustav Mahler, and Adolf Hitler. Based off of Oscar Wilde's play of the same name, Salome comes from a Biblical tale, though highly erotic and controversially murderous.
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.
Frankly, we should all be so lucky to get real-time commentary by Pynkoski. He's endlessly interested and interesting; he even had me craning my neck to see what he was on about with this business about downbeats being up in a choreographed fencing duel. For nearly 35 years, Opera Atelier has been putting up shows that, take it or leave it, have an aesthetic that is 100% fleshed out.
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.
"We chose July 13, 1934 for our piece, the day Hitler made a speech claiming responsibility for the "Night of the Long Knives," where two weeks prior, he ordered the S.A. division of the Nazi Party, including Röhm who uneasily protected Queer artists, massacred due to a purported threat of mutiny."
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.