Magazine article Opera Canada

Calgary Opera

Magazine article Opera Canada

Calgary Opera

Article excerpt

Berlin cabaret is etched forever in the modern mind as the soul of Weimar Republic Germany, with its unique culture of biting satire and tired, world-weary ennui. Calgary Opera lovingly recreated this environment in its final event in a season without a venue. Entitled A Kurt Weill Cabaret, the concert featured Jean Stilwell and a superb male quartet in Weill's Seven Deadly Sins, performed, as originally written with both a singer and dancer and held at Calgary's posh Petroleum Club with dinner as accompaniment.

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The thrust stage of the club's dining room was perfect, but the space couldn't accommodate a chamber orchestra. To cope with this limitation, Calgary Opera commissioned John Estacio (composer of Filumena) to reduce the score to two pianos. While the absence of Weill's characteristic woodwind and brass scoring was missed, the reduction was workable, and it was given a solid, musicianly performance by Peter Tiefenbach and Ron Bennie.

Stilwell has had both experience and success in singing Weill, and she was a natural choice for the part. Nevertheless, her account of the vocal part was only moderately successful, her voice often sounding unsteady and too full of vibrato. Dramatically, however, there was much to enjoy, particularly the smooth blending of the singer and the dancer (Kathryn Pollack). In fact, the willowy Pollack's dancing as Anna II made a striking counterpoint to Stilwell's singing. The stage direction by Vick Willis was particularly apt, making effective use of the physical similarity of the two performers, who, as the score states, are in reality a single personality. …

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