Talisker Players Presents Muse of Fire featuring Norine Burgess
Tuesday April 17, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Trinity St. Paul's Centre
For Immediate Release - Toronto, March 27, 2012: Toronto's Talisker Players conclude their season theatrically with Muse of Fire, a celebration of the Great Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, in words and music. This production features the public premiere of The Breath of Kings, a collaboration with the newly-founded Groundling Theatre Company.
The evening also features musical settings of songs from the plays of Shakespeare, by composers as diverse as Igor Stravinsky and the popular British composer Howard Blake (The Snowman). Muse of Fire stars mezzo-soprano Norine Burgess, acclaimed for both drama and lyricism in her singing, along with members of the Groundling Theatre Company, led by Artistic Director Graham Abbey. They will be joined by the strings, winds and percussion of the Talisker Players ensemble. Performances take place on April 17 and 18 (8PM) at Trinity St. Paul's Centre.
The Breath of Kings is a 40-minute concert piece for six actors and four musicians, which traces the story of Shakespeare's so-called Henriad - the history of Prince Hal, who became Henry V of England, told in the plays Richard II, Henry IV parts 1 and 2, and Henry V. The piece is built from a series of scenes - Richard's monologue from prison, a tavern scene with Falstaff, the famous St. Crispin's Day speech, and Hal's delightful wooing of Katherine of France - interwoven with music adapted from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. The music links the scenes, and also acts as commentary and underscoring, the arc of the seasons matching the arc of Hal's life, from youth to mature man.
The piece is paired with a selection of songs from Shakespeare's plays, including "Under the greenwood tree", "Full fathom five my father lies", "Come away death" and "It was a lover and his lass". The settings include Three Songs from William Shakespeare by Igor Stravinsky, for voice with flute, clarinet and viola; Shakespeare's Aviary by Alexander Rapoport (Talisker Players Composer in Residence), for voice with clarinet, viola and piano; and Shakespeare Songs by Howard Blake, for voice and string quartet. The programme is rounded out with two sonnets - No. 73, "That time of year", set by Toronto composer Mark Richards for voice with flute, cello and piano, and No. 91, "Some glory in their birth" by Jean Coulthard for voice and string quartet.
Norine Burgess's compelling stage presence and beauty of tone have brought her renown in opera houses and on concert stages around the world. She has appeared in opera productions in Canada and abroad. Equally acclaimed on the concert stage, the Canadian singer performs regularly with The Aldeburgh
Connection and with leading orchestras such as the Montreal Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and many other ensembles across Canada, the U.S. and in Europe.
Graham Abbey is best known for his role as Gray Jackson on the TV series Border. He is also acclaimed on the theatre stage. Over ten seasons with the Stratford Festival, he distinguished himself in numerous roles, including Prince Hal and Henry V, and he has appeared at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Royal Alexandra Theatre and Tarragon Theatre. He received two Dora nominations for outstanding achievement in Canadian Theatre, and won the 2002 award for featured male actor.
Groundling Theatre Co. is a new Toronto-based theatre company lead by Artistic Director Graham Abbey, which is committed to producing imaginative, original and accessible productions of Shakespeare's plays as well as works inspired by Shakespeare. Groundling Theatre's first production is scheduled for early 2013.
Pre-concert chats, free with the price of admission, will be offered on both evenings by composer Alexander Rapoport. Always an engaging, entertaining
and informative speaker, he will talk about his own piece as well as the others on the programme, and about how the text of each relates to the music.
Muse of Fire
Tuesday, April 17 & Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 8 PM
Pre-concert chats at 7:15 pm
A celebration of the Great Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare
Trinity St. Paul's Centre, 427 Bloor Street West
Norine Burgess, mezzo soprano; members of Groundling Theatre Company
The Talisker Players
Howard Blake: Shakespeare Songs, for mezzo soprano and string quartet
Jean Coulthard: Sonnet 91, for mezzo soprano and string quartet
Alexander Rapoport: Shakespeare's Aviary, for mezzo soprano, clarinet, viola
Mark Richards: That Time of Year, for mezzo soprano, flute, cello and piano
Igor Stravinsky: Three Songs from William Shakespeare, for mezzo soprano,
flute, clarinet and viola
The Breath of Kings, a concert piece for six actors and four musicians, with
words by William Shakespeare and music adapted from Antonio Vivaldi
Individual tickets: $30 / $20 (seniors) / $10 (students)
General information: 416-466-1800
Talisker Players Chamber Music offers one of the most imaginative and exciting concert series in Toronto. In collaboration with some of Canada's finest young singers, Talisker Players present the rarely-heard repertoire for voice and chamber ensemble. Their unique programming includes readings that illuminate the music and delight audiences with a stimulating, theatrical concert experience. The music, engaging and varied, includes both celebrated works and unknown gems from all styles and periods, with a strong presence of Canadian compositions.