Tag Archives: World Rock Symphony Orchestra

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.

*     *     *

Advertisements

Tommy turns 75, Celine & Tony sound off, Kelly & Jay play Fallsview and Arlene writes a bestseller

SHARPS & FLATS:  Crowd-pleasers Kelly Clarkson and Jay Leno are both set to entertain at Fallsview Casino next month, with the increasingly popular World Rock Symphony Orchestra now set to return in April …

PIECZONKA: Toronto Tosca

sublime Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka continues to dazzle as Tosca in the lavish COC production at the Four Seasons Centre now through Feb. 25 …  Daniel Lanois is set for two CBC Music concerts next month at the Great Hall on Queen Street.  The concerts coincide with Lanois’ induction into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame during Canadian Music Week festivities that same week … and legendary country gentleman Tommy Hunter will celebrate his 75th birthday by hanging up his guitar once and for all. Currently on tour, he’ll blow out the candles at a splashy birthday party in London, ON, on March 20, right after he gives his final concert at the John Labatt Centre. Should be quite a night!

HATS OFF:  To Tony Bennett and Celine Dion, who skipped the platitudes and went straight to the heart of Whitney Houston’stragic demise. Bennett says he has received mostly positive reaction to his statement urging the legalization of drugs in the U.S.

HUNTER: birthday boy

Legalization, he believes, would get rid of all the gangsters. “One thing I’ve learned about young people, when you say ‘Don’t do this,’ that’s the one thing they’re going to try and do. Once it’s legal and everybody can do it, there is no longer the desire to do something that nobody else can do.” Bennett, now 85, survived his own cocaine habit in the late ‘70s. Houston, who was 48, had admitted to using cocaine, marijuana and pills in the past. Dion, who is now, 43, considered Houston  “an amazing inspiration” but was clearly upset that “drugs, bad people, bad influences, took over her dreams, her motherhood,” she told Good Morning America this week. “When you

DION: remembering Whitney

think about Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson — to get into drugs like that for whatever reason – because of stress, bad influence, whatever — something happens that I don’t understand. That’s why I’m scared of show business, of drugs and hanging out. That’s why I don’t go to parties!” The private By Invitation Only funeral for Houston is set for tomorrow in New Jersey.

AND YES, YOU SHOULD TAKE IT PERSONALLY:  She’s worth millions and demonstrates how she got there every week on CBC’s megahit series Dragons’ Den.  But Arlene Dickinson shares even more of herself in her first (but, I predict, not her last) bestselling book, Persuasion, with some hard-won personal advice that everyone can use. “It’s a good idea,” she notes, “to take a hard look at your own narrative. Think about how you’d tell your life story to a Hollywood producer, how you’d explain the highs and lows. Have you cast yourself as a victim of circumstance? If so, maybe your story could use a rewrite, starting with the lead character who has choices – and sometimes makes the wrong ones.”

DICKINSON: persuasive life lessons

Making the wrong ones is something Dickinson knows about. She’s made quite a few herself. But, as she points out, those of us who have made some wrong choices along the way are in good company. High achievers are mistake makers, a fact she illustrates with engaging examples from Henry Ford to Oprah. (My favorite? Thomas Edison’s perspective on his many unsuccessful attempts to invent the light bulb. “I didn’t fail one thousand times. The lightbulb was an invention with one thousand steps.”)

Persuasion is about the art of connecting with the person you seek to persuade. It’s about caring. And about how to master “a little-known secret to success in business”  – listening. But because Dickinson makes it personal, Persuasion is much more than a How To book; it’s a survival guide for the mind and, sometimes, the soul. And within that survival guide are some valuable insights on corporate culture. “Staying in a situation you hate and complaining about everything that’s wrong, but never trying to fix it, doesn’t make you a martyr. It makes you complicit.”  Similarly, her views on our ability to choose the consequences of failure are bracing and refreshing. Bitterness is not an option, she insists, and shares another favorite quote, this one by mathematician Blaise Pascal: “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

As CEO of Venture Communications she also has  some genuinely amusing business stories to tell, including the time one of her partners,  trying to save the company money, arranged for her team to stay on a friend’s sailboat off Vancouver Island instead of paying for pricey Vancouver hotel rooms. When they arrived at the dock she noticed that the boat’s name was Important Business  — andsuddenly realized what my partners meant when they told me in the past that they work ‘going away on important business.’ They were talking about this sailboat!”

Stylish on screen and off, she appreciates the fame that television has brought her but resists the urge to take it for granted. “I have exactly the same insecurities anyone has,” she admits. “If anything, they’re even more overwhelming when you know a couple of million people are seeing all your flaws in high definition!” And despite the fact that her on-screen chemistry with fellow Dragon Kevin O’Leary has made her an audience favourite, her account of her auditions for Dragons’ Den (yes, she had to do more than one) and how she had to discipline her own self-doubts to get the job — she replaced another Dragon when she came to the series in its second season — is intriguing inside stuff.

Of course that’s why Persuasion is a bestseller. It’s a hypnotic, hard-to-put-down book of life lessons shared by someone who had to learn most of them the hard way. As Arlene Dickinson sees it, the main obstacle standing in our way is, not surprisingly, us. “Our past shapes and influences who we are, but it doesn’t limit who we can become.” Persuasion, as promised, is a new approach to changing minds. And although she preaches the power of persuasion, she urges her readers to be sure of their objectives, be they personal or professional. “Before you set out to persuade someone,” Dickinson writes, “you need to be certain that you actually want what you’re asking for. Because you just might get it.”

*     *     *