Saturday 17 October 2009

Canadian Opera Company

How many times can you say that you saw something new and innovative?
Well, the COC has brought an interesting variety of techniques to the Canadian stage.

The Nightingale & Other Short Fables
They put in a water tank where the orchestra would sit, and the stars must wear wet suits to remain warm. Yes, they are in the water with the puppets. I am amazed. Combining acting with operatic singing is hard enough, but to add to the disparate mix, they also manipulate some of the puppets. The buzz is loud. As a teacher, we have often had puppeteers in for performances. There are many in the arts who have mastered this craft and who have brought their excitement to 150,000 school children through MASC programs.

Taiwanese and 400-year old Japanese-style hand puppets, Turkish shadow puppets, Vietnamese Water Puppetry mixes with the singers to create a fascinating production. How creative and global, at the same time! There are 5 puppeteers in black who share the stage. What an amazing opportunity for creativity! Mr. Curry likes to use actors and dancers, as well as professional singers, who have been trained using body and movement techniques, he says in the video. I can see, from the CBC National news clip how amazing it must be to watch. I would compare Mr. Curry's dynamic creativity reminds me of Jim Henson. Just amazing photographs.

I have not been, but this production shares the stage with a more traditional opera, Madama Butterfly, and the set must be struck each night. The water is stored overnight, kept heated, and refilled the next day.

Production designer Michael Curry demonstrates the puppets he built for the world premiere of Robert Lepage's The Nightingale & Other Short Fables, on stage at Toronto's Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts from Oct. 17 to Nov. 5, 2009.
Here is the video from the COC's YouTube page. It is a long 9:25 minutes, but fascinating! Michael Curry's energy is palpable.


Lynette said...

This sound COMPLETELY wonderful! And yes, what a fascinating explanation of the process and the production. How I wish I could experience this!

Jenn Jilks said...

I knew you would love it, Lynette!