K-W and Beyond
Stratford Festival and The Threepenny Opera.
There is quite a collection of plays at the Stratford this year, classic Shakespeare with a total of 6 plays including "Romeo and Juliet", "King Lear" and "Richard III". Then there is also "The Scarlet Pimpernel" with beautiful costumes and a couple are wonderful musicals "My Fair Lady" and "The Threepenny Opera". July 19 I happened to be at the Avon Theatre, thoroughly enjoying myself at Bertold Brecht’s "The Threepenny Opera".
There are American musicals, there are French and then there are German ones. This one although taking place in London, England with characters bearing names like Peachum, Filch or Tiger Brown has the unmistakable style and melodies of German culture. And the Kurt Weill melodies are upbeat, rhythmic and full of vigour.
The opening appearance of the street bum singing the so well known "Mack the Knife" put the audience in the spirit of the famous musical.
The newly renovated Avon Theatre offers full audio support to the singers and their voices carried loud and clear. The mobile set was apparently Brecht’s idea and works very well 70 years after its conception. And the costumes of the ladies from Soho were somehow more the style of Hamburg from the 20’s or 30’s than England of that period.
highest applause was directed to Tom McCamus as Mackheath, Peter Donaldson
as J.J.Peachum and Sheila McCarthy as Mrs.Peachum. It always amazes me that
actors – who are not singers – given the roles, can sing and they sang well.
It is a great success, one of the best known and finest musicals of the 20th
century. Light entertainment well put together, a piece of good theatre and
running till November. The telephone for the Stratford box office is
1-800-567-1600 or local from K-W 519-273-1600. Have a great time!
The Grand River Baroque Festival
At the beginning of July a brand new and very interesting festival took place – the first of an annual celebration of baroque music performed in an innovative and exciting venue: the Buehlow family farm-barn. A real barn, modified and uniquely decorated for the event and with the help of volunteers and donations transformed into a very pleasant concert hall and meeting venue, complete with stage "balcony" for the VIP’s dressing/storage room, and an area with tables and seating designed for catering any type of unique event. Not sure that the Buehlow family knows what they got themselves into. This could turn out to be a popular venue for any type of stage production, orchestral performances, wedding, corporate or other type of public event that differentiates itself from the routine.
James Mason (Oboe – member of the KWS) and Julie Baumgartel (Violin), Artistic Directors, came up with the idea of the Festival and middle of the countryside venue, and with the help of the artists, singers, donors and volunteers, and the Buehlow family, presented us with three days of Bach, Castello, Marini and others.
I attended the "Incomparable Bach" opening night and listened to the Brandenburg Concerto No.1 as a live performance – for the second time in my life. First time it was in Prague in the gardens in 1965. The baroque music is somehow associated in my mind with the old European cities, cathedrals and city squares, the smell of late summer and the sun. It is almost church music, peaceful and distinguished. The concert was beautiful. The performance sold out.
Aside of the accomplished musicians like bass-baritone Daniel Lichti, there were also sure to be accomplished singers from the Wilfried Laurier music program. The concert was beautiful not only because of the music and the quality musicians and singers, but also because of this unique setting, the enthusiastic spirit of the organizers and performers, and the follow-up reception with the opportunity of meeting the artists glass of vine and finger food in hand. Unfortunately I could not attend any other concerts. There were compositions of Handel, Vivaldi, Zavateri and of course more of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos.
The success of this Baroque Music Festival demands continuation. The dates of next year’s Festival have already been set with justifiable confidence: July 4 – 6, 2003. Same venue. I have marked the dates in my calendar. If you missed the concert and want to follow-up on the details, check the website with URL http://www.grbf.ca/
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