A new direction perchance…
And now it is time to move beyond the political rants… it has become painfully obvious to me that the divide that is afflicting Canada, while it is somewhat different than that in the country to the south, permeates any politically-tangential conversation we might have… As minds are not likely to be changed and the theme is not going to lend itself to sober second thought, it seems to me that the best course of action is to drop that portion of the Editorialog. And thus, unless something really contemporary or pressing arises, I am going to develop some new themes and dwell more deeply on some older ones…
Today I went to my local cinema to watch Live From the Met. The performance this week was a new opera titled: The Hours. This is a very new operatic composition (put together during the pandemic) that draws both on a book and an earlier movie of the same name. This is not an opera for the faint of heart as it does not have a large number of joyful scenes. But it is a very powerful one.
Like Three Tall Women which I saw at the Stratford Festival last year, this production focuses on three women. It revolves around the author Virginia Wolfe and her book Mrs. Dalloway. One role actually is that of Virginia Wolfe, played/sang brilliantly by Joyce DiDonato and set in the 1920’s. Kelli O’Hara plays Laura Brown (a struggling mother & housewife who is oft-times reading Mrs. Dalloway) and her role is set in the 1950’s and she too does a masterful job with the part (including trying to make a birthday cake with her son for his dad/her husband). The third character (and the one I would go watch if she was playing a fence-post in the musical Oklahoma) is Clarissa. Renée Fleming is simply beyond description in this role. We thought she had already played her last operatic role at the Met a few years ago, pre-Covid-19 but she was instrumental in getting the key people together to make this opera happen, and she certainly isn’t about to mess it up. Her role is in the 1990’s and includes dealing with a close friend dying of AIDS
I would fly to New York to see this production in person. It received a serious standing ovation and in this instance it was well deserved. While I found it over-powering on the screen, I can only imagine what it is like in the Met itself. The supporting cast is well-chosen and the use of the chorus is particularly dramatic. My advice: take your Christmas money, get on a plane and go to New York; failing that, watch for a repeat showing and take it in… The acting and singing of these three towers of power make the darkness of the play simply a setting; the story becomes uber-real each time one of them opens her mouth and when they are singing duets or trios it is almost too good to be believable.
In a nutshell: this is another example of women taking control of a concept, getting the right people to work with them, and it all resulting in a very special moment. And it isn’t hurt at all by the fact that the conductor is Yannick Nézet-Séguin who brings orchestral enthusiasm and class in a very supportive way.
After the passing of Dr. O.A. Anderson, I closed the weekly ZOOM conference we held every Tuesday morning. My other colleague remaining from that time, James Matkin, has agreed with me that we should re-launch. Starting in January, initially on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 10:00 a.m. PST (11:00 a.m. MST, 1:00 p.m. EST and 2:00 p.m. AST), we will be conducting conversations on a wide variety of themes and topics. We have invited three  people to join our core panel; however (as we did on occasion in the past) we are also going to open up the audience to any one that would like to listen in, and even contribute as may be appropriate. If you think this is something you would like to do, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you on a mailing list: each session we will notify everyone of the primary theme and if you want to join the ZOOM you will be invited to do so. Attendance will not be taken, so if you are not interested on any given Tuesday, all you would need to do is nothing – ignore the invite and go about your daily tasks!!