Tag Archives: Jacques Offenbach

A living doll named Andriana brings down the (opera) house when Hoffman starts telling his Tales

POWER PLAY: Andriana Chuchman gets re-charged by Steven Cole

SHOCK TREATMENT: You don’t expect a lot of repressed mirth at the opera, even when the themes are tragicomic. But Toronto opera goers are howling with laughter this month at Andriana Chuchman’s diabolically funny performance in the new Canadian Opera Company production of Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman. In case you’re unfamiliar with the plot, it’s all about a

CHUCHMAN: living doll

romantic poet [Hoffman] who becomes a greater and more insightful poet after he amorously pursues three enigmatic women with disastrous results. Which is where Ms. Chuchman comes in. Hoffman is sure that in the exquisite Olympia he has found the perfect woman –apparently the fact that she sleeps in a glass coffin has somehow eluded him — and vows to make her his own. Alas, Olympia is a mechanical doll, brought to life by jolts of electricity that evoke nostalgic memories of Elsa Lanchester rising to the occasion as the Bride of Frankenstein. As directed by Lee Blakely, clearly a disciple of the Mel Brooks school of drama, and as deftly executed by Winnipeg-born soprano Chuchman, Olympia is a brilliantly bawdy creation, sung with spellbinding precision and a sense of punch-line timing

SHEARER: as Olympia in 1951

worthy of Madeline Kahn. It’s a great role, of course; ballerina Moira Shearer danced it in the award-garnering 1951 screen version more than half a century ago. But the remarkable Ms. Chuchman takes it to a new and hilarious level, and the performance frequently interrupted by spontaneous applause from a most appreciative audience. Her star turn is the diamond in a show filled with gems, including Russell Thomas’ searing Hoffman, Erin Wall‘s tortured Antonia — how often do you get to sing all those great arias about how you’re not supposed to sing? — Steven Cole’s amusing posturing as all four thankless servants and John Relyea‘s tour de force performances as all four demonic villains. Tales of Hoffman is on stage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts through May 14, and even with those memorable Offenbach melodies, I predict it’s Ms. Chuchman’s Olympia you’ll still be talking about long after the final curtain comes down.

ALICE & CHESHIRE CAT: her Adventures are bound for L.A.

BALLET HIGH: The National Ballet of Canada will return to L.A. this fall for the first time in 35 years. The company will bring its spectacularly successful production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to the Los Angeles’ Music Center, October 19–21. Closer to home, the National’s celebrated outreach programme YOU Dance is in Thunder Bay this week, introducing students in

BRUEGGERGOSMAN: we've got a crush on her

grades four to six to the world of dance through free workshops and performances. Now only five years old, YOU Dance has already performed free of charge for more than 48,000 students and teachers in Ontario. Hey, somebody’s doing something right …

SHARPS & FLATS: The irrepressible World Rock Symphony Orchestra is back rocking Fallsview Casino this week and next, with homegrown rocker Gowan set to play a three-night stand there on July 11-13 …  the incomparable Measha Brueggergosman serenades fans with songs from her new pop album, I’ve Got A Crush On You,  tonight  at the Markham Theatre and tomorrow night at Trinity St. Paul’s Church …  Jack de Keyzer brings his Blues

HOFFERT: Sunday salons

Revue to the lakefront this weekend with a Saturday night gig at the Riverview Room atop the Port Credit Legion … and always-in-demand music man Tom Szczesniak joins Paul Hoffert’s Sunday afternoon jazz salon at Musideum this weekend.

OUR TOWN: Super shutterbug Barbara Cole’s new photo exhibit, Two People Walking A Tightrope In An Ordinary Life Filled With Extraordinary Moments – love that title! – is now on view at the Baux-XI Photo gallery across from the AGO … Grace Restaurant on College Street celebrated its fourth birthday this week with a new chef, Kevin Gastonguay, replacing exiting rave-maker Dustin Gallagher … still in a festive mood, Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company celebrates its 30th Anniversary this week with tonight’s world premiere of Aguas/Waters at the Fleck Dance Theatre at Harbourfront. Aquas/Waters is choreographed by Artistic Director Esmeralda Enrique and Juan Ogalla, who won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Dance Performance last year.

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Arden has fun with 50, Bobby sings to Yamma, Alice goes to Washington and Mercer takes the plunge

NO BIZ LIKE SHOW BIZ: She may be the most celebrated centrefold in Canadian history, but Jann Arden, whose Botticelli beauty is on full display in the current issue of Zoomer magazine, says she doesn’t mind turning 50. “I

ARDEN: cover girl

don’t mind getting older one little bit,” she insists. “I don’t mind standing in the middle of the kitchen with the refrigerator door wide open thinking that I am going to buy my reading glasses sitting there on one of the glass shelves only to realize that what I was really looking for where my car keys that I swear I just had in my purse that I set down on the table beside the backdoor when my cell phone rang… What was I saying? I don’t mind one single thing about getting older. No, I don’t.” Even more delightful than Bryan Adams’ whimsical portraits of the Adored Ms. A. is the essay penned by Arden herself in her uniquely inimitable style. Buy it for the centrefold, then read the article — you’ll be glad you did … meanwhile, Ms. Arden’s pal Rick Mercer, who continues to coax her into going on hair-raising playdates with him, takes the plunge with members of our Olympic swim team in Victoria BC tonight

MERCER: in the swim of things

on his weekly Rick Mercer Report. (Is there anything funnier than watching Mercer try to keep up with Olympic-calibre athletes?) Now in his ninth (!!!) season, Mercer’s new episodes are currently being watched by close to 2 million Canadians — and that’s not counting the fans who watch him on their iPads and smartphones … some eye-popping photographs by National Ballet principal dancer Aleksandar Antonijevic, who opens here tomorrow night in The Seagull,  will be on display at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa from April 11 – 30. The exhibit will feature behind-the-scenes photographs of National Ballet dancers … and yes, you read that right —  Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey, Titanic) has signed on to write the new screen version of Gypsy with Barbra Streisand as Momma Rose.

DON’T WORRY, BE YAMMA: Watch for happy music maker Bobby McFerrin to duet with Mamma Yamma next month on Kids’ CBCLori Yates & The Nashville Rejects join Vinyl Cafe singer-songwriter Jadea

McFERRIN: Mamma's boy

Kelly at the Cameron House this Friday … Derek Christie and his band are set to heat up a Sick KIds Hospital benefit at the Hard Rock Cafe next Friday, March 30 … and Fallsview Casino is set to bring back its popular all-girl country-music salute 6 CHIX for a 10-day run June 20-30, following a two-night stand by Ringo Starr and his all-Starr band … and has any musical theatre company anywhere received the kind of response that Toronto’s Acting Up company has been generating? Its next concert show, The Long And Winding Road, is a musical tour of Beatles classics set for April 1 at Koerner Hall — and iit’s already almost all sold out. Then again, where else can you see Jackie Richardson, Graham Abbey, Michael Therriault, Steve Ross and so many more on the same stage in the same show? So maybe it’s not such a surprise after all.

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE:  Science icon Stephen Hawking recently shot a cameo for next week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory in which he meets up with Jim Parson’s awkward theoretical physicist Sheldon

PARSONS: Big Banger

Cooper. Said BBT producer Bill Prady: “We’re not exactly sure how we got him. It’s the kind of mystery that could only be understood by, say, a Stephen Hawking.” Hawking, no stranger to show biz, previously voiced himself on The Simpsons — four times!! … American tenor Russell Thomas will make his Canadian Opera Company debut as the barfly poet who spins captivating reminiscences of lost loves to his fellow drinkers when the COC opens its spring season with Jacques Offenbach’s Tales Of Hoffman April 10 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts … and ballet boosters Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan are the Gala co-chairs of the National Ballet’s June 20

KAIN: D.C.-bound

Diamond Gala, a glittering celebration to wrap up the NBOC’s 60th anniversary season with a $1.25 million fund-raising goal. Meanwhile, National Ballet fans in Washington DC who have been waiting for the return of their favourite Canadian high-steppers  — the company hasn’t played there since 2006 — will finally get their wish. NBOC chief Karen Kain will take the company’s celebrated production of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland to the Kennedy Center next January.

WHY WE VOTE, or, What I Learned Today On The Internet: We are all familiar with a Herd of cows, a Flock of chickens, a School of fish, a Gaggle of geese, a Pride of lions and, presumably because they look so wise, a Congress of owls. Now consider a group of Baboons. They are the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive and least intelligent of all primates. And what is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons? Believe it or not — a Parliament. Yes. A Parliament of baboons.       Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

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