The last two days have seen an exciting dress rehearsal and opening night. Thursday afternoon's dress was performed in front of 150 boisterous students who had great reactions and probing questions at the conclusion. It was wonderful to hear some gentle laughter at the charming bits of both pieces and to sense their engagement with the stories. For us, it was also highly instructive to be able to focus and run through both pieces without stopping to fix anything. All went very well and the singers and instrumentalists turned in brave and beautiful performances.
We had our technical dress rehearsal this evening, running through both Venus and Adonis and The Lesson of Da Ji. These are often terrifying rehearsals, because you realize all of the different elements that are in play at any given time: costumes, lighting, blocking, music, text, etc. I am more convinced than ever, though, that this is a very strong program. Venus and Adonis is a charming and affecting piece and the singers are putting it across magnificently well.
By Marjorie Chan
We are involved in a flurry of activity leading up to our opening night this coming Friday. Rehearsals are going extremely well...the performers are really throwing themselves into their roles, the costumes are terrific and we've already had some good rehearsal time with the orchestras for both masques. There is a marked contrast, of course, between the transparency of John Blow's score for "Venus and Adonis" and the intensity of Alice Ho's "The Lesson of Da Ji". This is just one of the aspects of the production that will be fascinating for the audience.
Last Sunday, April 7, the TMT Lessons of Love team gathered at The Citadel - the home of the Coleman Lemieux dance company - for a day-long workshop of Alice Ho and Marjorie Chan's new work, The Lesson of Da Ji. Most of the singers were present: Marion Newman (Da Ji), Derek Kwan (Bo Yi), Xin Wang (Maid), Vania Chan (Moon) and Alex Dobson (King). With the help of rehearsal pianist Jeanne Yuen, we read through the two scenes of the masque, starting and stopping, considering questions and challenges, and generally seeking to become more familiar with this brilliant work.
Just a quick note this morning to report on a great day of rehearsal yesterday. The studio was HOT...apparently there was a "hot yoga" class going on in the studio below and they jacked the heat up in the whole building. It did make things a little challenging at the beginning, but we managed and - when things had cooled down a little! - we had a very productive rehearsal.
It's been a wonderful week so far, and it's only Tuesday morning! We are rehearsing in the beautifully-renovated Citadel Studio of the Coleman-Lemieux dance company at Parliament and Dundas. That area is growing and changing rapidly. We had a great day on Sunday with all the singers and our crackerjack continuo players...lots of music to try, sort out and discuss. Everyone sounds wonderful...the two sopranos - Dawn and Michele - are a perfect match. Lawrence Wiliford is perfectly suited to this repertoire...he should be singing Purcell all over the world!!
I can't get the tune to Fairest Isle out of my head. I think it's one the most perfect things in life. One of the great things about Purcell's music, including his way with a tune, is how simple it is. And yet it is full of invention, has such deep connection to the text and is full of musical craft.
We try not to miss an opportunity to program Henry Purcell's works on our season. There are many reasons for this, but the biggest is that Purcell had such a beautiful way with words, dance and music, both vocal and instrumental....so his works seem to be a perfect fit for us. We took a bit of a gamble when we first started out, and we undertook to produce Purcell's five major music theatre works in our first five seasons. We also commissioned James Rolfe and Andre Alexis to write a modern "response" to Dido and Aeneas and have performed that double-bill twice.