This site will point you to places you've never been to before.
You'll also be introduced to films (ratings from 1- 5), festivals, music, getaways travel, restaurants and much more. Commentaries and amusing anecdotes may pop up.
I really welcome your comments at the bottom of each article.
So join me on the ride into the rugged and the luxurious.
We all need to discover open borders in the world and in ourselves.
Monday, July 1, 2019
RUFUS WAINWRIGHT'S PRIMA DONNA PREMIERS MAGNIFICENTLY!
Jazz Festival Concert: Place des Arts, Salle Wilfred Laurier, July 2, 2016
PRIMA DONNA CONCERT
Prima Donnais Mr Wainright's first opera;
and because of it, we discover yet another brilliant side to the
singer/composer's artistic expression. What moving music! Highly French in
flavour, this interesting creation highlighted a lyrical melody which seemed to
echo the spirit of Bizet and Delibes. Several passages climaxed in melodic
crescendos, poignantly pointing to Verdi, Puccini, and the darker parts to
Prokofiev and Richard Strauss.
Thematically, the subject is a tasteful and highly stylized
tribute to "Woman" and the "Feminine" as she lives through
the inevitable sadness of ageing - how it affects her outward appearance, her
own doubts and insecurity.
Specifically focusing on the
late Maria Callas (portrayed with hypnotic intensity by Cindy Sherman), Callas
-- the great Greek opera singer -- is a larger than life legend. Her unique
voice and striking beauty captivated the world's attention - and this aspect
carried through in Prima Donna by the use of close-up images. Cameo photos on
the projected back wall screen in the film filled our own imagination. Baroque
style settings and luscious costumed Cindy Sherman as Callas were richly
highlighted in the film.
Just as Callas inspired the world, she herself was captivated by
Queen Regine, a bust of which is first shown in the film. It was directed by
the Italian genius, Francesco Vezzoli , and it featured his inspiring
soundtrack. Scenes of Ms. Sherman (portrayal alluding to Callas) at various
stages of ageing, singing at the piano, taking off makeup and studying herself
slowly, move across the screen enhanced by frequent fade-ins and fade-outs that
beautifully flow in a synchronized, symbiotic manner to the emotionally rich
terrain of the singing and the orchestral symphonic music -- perfectly
performed by the a symphony orchestra under the baton of the vibrant American
maestro, Jace Ogren.
The performance only featured some parts of the opera. Still, we
glued to our seats. The artists who sang were sublime; their lush yet varied
vocal totality along with their obvious connection to the characters they
portrayed effectively claimed our admiration. Soprano, Kathryn Guthrie who
reached notes that surely exceeded the highest upper C stunned us all.
Lyne Fortin, who
sang the lead, was exuberantly beautiful. Her deliciously
round voice is rich, emotive and it was perfect for the part.
Tenor, Antonio Figueroa was so tender, and his voice is sweet.
The opera is a stand-out. It will surely mesmerize audiences in Paris where it will soon
Post-intermission, Mr. Wainwright shared the more familiar side of
his musical artistry. Whether at the piano or in front of the mike, dressed in
an elegant sparkly silver suit created by Zaldy, his musicality spills out in a
non-stop flood of love. Head swaying, and arms moving gracefully to the fluid
and periodic cleverly punctuated rhythms that mark his original songs showed
how much music lives within him- his voice is so smooth - his range and his
ability to hold a note for an eternity is astounding.
Charming and always humorously self-mocking when referring to his
French, though he did hold his own in the language - as proven in his
hypnotically beautiful song, "Les feux d'artifices t'appellent" which
he played at the piano, as he did several songs: "Cigarettes and
Chocolate" and a sonnet song from his latest album,Let All the Loves In:: Nine Shakespeare Sonnets. I loved, "Going to
Town" and "Oh What a World." His sister, Martha joined him on
one of his late mother's favourite songs - and she appeared on stage again with
two cousins for the final encore number - the iconic - "Halleluja".
It was frustrating that such a complex concert offered no written
program for the public; nor were there electronic super headings in either
language as the opera (in French) played out. Thus the opera lost a vital
concomitant element, and as one French couple said, "We caught only some
words as they sung." (Regardless of language, opera librettos are often
lost during a performance in "ear translation."
How rare to hear an opera knowing the composer still lives within our midst!
ARCHER SETS THE TONE OF HOME-SPUN HONESTY
The singer, Archer, from Australia opened the evening. His vocal style is little bit skiffle and a little bit old time. His catchy vocal tremor is such a throw-back to days gone by. His songs about the outback, nature, death of a family mother, hobo days and kangaroos and cars were highly original. “The Greatest Symphony on Earth” about love-making surely showed his risqué sense of humour. Still, I was not sure if he was comfy in the theatre’s performance arena.
He was so low key, rather shy, and although his stage presence was interesting, his delivery might have been more appreciated at a café house. His songs are lyrically rich, but his diction seems to reside between his teeth; he was hard to understand. One suspects he is far more a songwriter than a singer. He’s the real raw deal, and for that, I admire him greatly as an artist.
SISTERS: BORN TO SING TOGETHER
de Rideau Vert, July 7th, 2016
Although they live miles and miles apart, Lucy Wainwright Roche
lives in New York,
Martha Wainwright in Saint-Sauveur, these two sublime songbirds belong on the
stage. Lucy has a voice as heavenly and as pure as Joan Baez’s. It’s pitch
perfect and true folk. Martha’s voice is a mix of Emmylou Harris, Alison
Krauss, Dolly Parton and Bonny Raitt. The variety of textures in her voice is
astounding. She is more kinetic on stage than her calm sister, but both hold us
in their vocal grip.
the minor key; yes
some were slow with lyrics about creeping shadows, but their haunting beauty
and sometimes lonely and sad images were so beautifully rendered. Such moving
melodies with perfect harmonic nuances -- the chance to slumber was
overshadowed by awe.
In “Baby Rocking Medley,” they offer wailing newborns up for
adoption willingly, while on a cover of Richard Thompson’s “The End of the
Rainbow,” you feel -- yes this is what Lucy said – the most depressing of their
medley. The song says: “There’s nothing to grow up for anymore,” and one
believes this is the real song that hit the most morbid of lullaby songs in the
repertoire delivered in the concert.
Laughter spread through the audience when Archangel,
Martha’s little son, came out holding a violin and bow, tried to sit on the
too-high stool, and then never really played. He just kept looking up at his
mother, waiting for his cue. At the end, he took a bow, and we were so amused.
Both ladies were great at playing off one another, sharing funny
anecdotes, and tell-all disasters, including one about their matching dresses
which alluded to a dress story about Rufus; his garment gift to the two of them
has gone into the garbage. Even their father Loudon Wainwright III was not off
limits. He is an insomniac: “Shut up and Go to Sleep” (their last song for the
evening), was totally appropriate for the theme of the evening. Cleverly
comedic, Lucy has this low key drawl humour that is subtly delicious. She added
just the right punch to Martha’s more intense stage presence and anecdotal
I loved this concert. Footnote: Press conference with Rufus and Martha Wainwright:
In 1985 I had the privilege to be called upon by the great Kate McGarrigle to live with Rufus and Martha while she toured... as long as I taught them piano. I didn't even know them, nor she me. Their talent was obvious even at their very young age. Imagine how nice it was to be reunited with them decades later during this press conference.