Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Drab Butterfly

Last night I attended the new COC production of Madama Butterfly. Butterfly is one of those operas that has always proved a cash cow for opera companies. It is after all a beautiful story of longing, loss, love, colonialism, imperialism and Orientalism made magical by Puccini's beautiful and haunting music. Sadly, last night's performance was unable to make the opera come alive. The piece lacked any real coherent focus or message and was a washed out, muted version of Butterfly. 

As the curtain arose the set consisted of a minimalist raked stage with movable shoji screens that defined Cio Cio San's home atop a hill in Nagasaki. This left me with high hopes that were quickly dashed by the director's inability to bring anything alive. Behind this raked stage was a washed out rendering of distant mountains. This poorly defined imagery was reflected in a selection of costumes that were washed out and muted in tone and colour. The entire production was washed out and drab, including design, costuming and lighting. Even mood changes in the music that should have been reflected in the imagery on stage, like a night sky filled with stars remained washed out and tired. The production never achieved the magic that is possible for an opera of such beauty.

As if to compensate for the dullness of the visuals the orchestra played the score in a bombastic, Hollywood manner, making it sound more like a film score than a Puccini opera. Puccini's music can be sweet and powerful, but too often this production played for volume and bravado losing the softness and emotion of the piece. This was mirrored by a selection of voices that had no soft edges. While Patricia Racette's deserves credit for the power of her performance there was a sharpness to the tone that was harsh without any depth or warmth in all three of the lead voices. This was most evident when the voices sand together, never really coming together in tone or sound. In the end a story of loss that has in past left me in tears found me unmoved and ready to leave. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Food & Friends

Having a load of pears Mr.T and I decided to try out a Martha Stewart recipe for Pear-Cranberry Chutney. 

Cranberry, Pear Chutney

  • 3 Pears, Peeled & cored
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 3 Cups Cranberries
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • ½ Cup Orange Juice
  • ¼ Cup Raisins
  • 5 Dates, Pitted & Chopped
Toss the chopped pears with the lemon zest and juice in a bowl.
In a large saucepan over medium heat cook the cranberries and sugar until the berries burst and release their juices, about 8 minutes.
Add orange juice, raisins and dates to the saucepan.
Raise the heat to medium-high.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture bubbles.
Add the pears, cook, stirring until the mixture thickens and the pears are softened, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a month. 

After finishing the chutney Mr.D called inviting us out for dim sum. Sadly, all the roads were backed up with the Toronto Marathon so we made our way out to their place to meet them. Driving north we searched for a dim sum place finally settling on Shanghai Dim Sum on Sheppard Avenue. 

Located on a corner lot surrounded by an L-shaped parking lot the building was a small box that looked liked a converted donut or fast food place. Inside there were a few round tables and a couple of square ones all packed together really tightly. The place was packed and we waited for a table. The menu featured a selection of Shanghai inspired dim sum, which is heavy on the pork, lacking a lot of familiar shrimp & seafood options. The feature of Shanghai dim sum are soup dumplings and steamed buns filled with assorted fillings. The service was quick and the food delicious.

Feast Day of St.Divine

Dance of the Dead

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Blustery Fall Day

Today the temperature continued to drop and the winds picked up. It was a cool, fall, blustery day. Mr.T and I decided after our Saturday morning trip to Kensington to head up to IKEA to check out some sheets. Sadly, the subways were not working between Bloor and Eglington and we had to travel in between by bus. It made for a lot of people squeezing together in a small space. Once arriving on the Shepard line we decided to head out to Fairview Mall at the end of the line, checking out the mall. After walking around we made our way back to IKEA, not finding what we were seeking, then made our way to Canadian Tire. From there we made our way back downtown again having to disembark at Eglington station. This time there were even more people and the buses were become far to busy so we disembarked at Summerhill and then made our way over to Rashnaa for an early dinner. After all the traveling and crowds we were exhausted and decided after dinner just to head home. 

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